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HDI ranking: 150/187
HDI score: 0.495
Cameroon continues to make progress transferring responsibilities to the local level. However, fiscal decentralization, a lack of local capacity, and the absence of a strong civil society continue to challenge the process (GIZ, n.d.).
Local governance at a glance
- Cameroon is divided into 10 administrative regions, each divided into divisions, and divisions into sub-divisions. Each administrative region is placed under the jurisdiction of a governor appointed by the head of state. The number of local governments amounts to 376 councils, including 14 city councils, and 42 sub-divisional councils within the cities (CLGF, 2013).
- At the national level, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) has responsibility for relations between central and local government, including the power to suspend local authorities in the case of emergencies. (CLGF, 2008)
- Councillors are elected via universal suffrage for a five-year term. While councils and sub-division councils are headed by a mayor directly elected by councillors, city councils are headed by a government body appointed by the president (CLGF, 2013).
- The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MINATD) is responsible for relations between the central and local government. It also oversees the regional and local authorities and their decentralization policies (CLGF, 2013).
- Cameroon does not have gender quotas at the subnational level (Quota Project, 2013).
Civil society actors include
- Reflection and Concrete Actions for Africa Development (RECAAD-Cameroon) seeks to promote good governance, and fights for human rights and the eradication of corruption (RECAAD- Cameroon, 2014).
- The Zenü Network consists of several civil society actors that work with regional and local authorities as well as associations and movements to identify and strengthen local governance (Zenü Network, 2012).
- Youth Tracking Decentralization in Cameroon (YTDC) is a project that seeks to promote good governance within the management of municipal councils. This includes specific focus on the critical importance of transparency and having a participatory decisionmaking process (YTDC, 2014).
Capacity building institutions
- The Local Government Training Centre is a training center for current and new local government officials and staff. It is supervised by the MINATD (CLGF, 2013).
- United Councils and Cities of Cameroon (UCCC) is an association of all of Cameroon’s councils that seeks to contribute to the process of decentralization. It supports its members with financial assistance and capacity-building among other things (UCCC, 2014).
- The Centre de Formation Pour L’Administration Municipale (CEFAM) is a training center for local government officials and staff.
- The National Committee of Local Finance (Comité National des Finances Locales –CONAFIL) was established by law in 2009 to monitor local government’s revenue generation and expenditures.
- Local authorities can raise taxes and charges up to an annual business levy of US$200 (CLGF, 2013).
- The local budget derives from transfers from the central government through the MINATD via the Special Council Support Fund for Mutual Assistance (FEICOM) (CLGF, 2013).
Key initiatives for participatory local governance
- The 1972 Constitution and the Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2009 both identify local governance as a means of improving service delivery, accountability of officials, regional tensions, inclusion, and environmental management (World Bank, 2012).
- The 1996 constitution recognizes the decentralized nature of the State and officially established the Region as a regional and local authority (Constitution of Cameroon, 1996).
- In 2004, several laws were passed to finally lay down a [former] legal framework of decentralisation which include a transfer of powers to local entities. This devolution included financial, material and human means as well as the establishment of the National Council for Decentralization, and an Interministerial Committee for Local Services (Cheka, 2007).
Challenges for participatory local governance
- The World Bank states that Cameroon’s “legal framework relating to decentralization is overlapping, cumbersome and contradictory, and in many respects open to different interpretations. The main difficulty is that decentralized functions are ill-defined and not distinct from ‘deconcentrated’ operations of the central government” (World Bank, 2012).
- Despite strong decentralization legislation, Cameroon lacks an effective strategy and an operational plan for decentralization (World Bank, 2012).
- A small budget of municipalities often leads to a lack of qualified staff resulting in obstacles to exercise tasks properly. This is especially the case if there is a lack of work organization or technical management teams (Desbrosses, 2014).
- In 2008, constitutional amendments provided for an intermediary provincial/regional level of local government. However, this has not yet been realized (CLGF, 2013).
Recent posts on this website about this country:
- Participatory Budgeting in Cameroon (2014)
- Impacts of community forests on livelihoods in Cameroon : lessons from two case studies (2011)
- Decentralisation in Commonwealth Africa : experiences from Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania (2011)
- Towards better service delivery : an economic update on Cameroon : with a focus on fiscal decentralization (2011)
- Mobilising tax revenue to finance development : the case for property taxation in Francophone Africa (2010)
- Local power and women’s rights : gender perspectives on decentralisation processes (2010)
- Tenure in REDD : start-point or afterthought? (2009)
- New niches of community rights to forests in Cameroon : tenure reform, decentralization category or something else? (2009)
- Accroître les ressources financières des communes : pratiques émergentes en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre (2008)
- Women’s empowerment and good governance through community radio : best experiences for an action research process (2008)
List of sources:
Cheka, C., 2007, African Development: “The State of the Process of Decentralisation in Cameroon.”
Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), 2013: “Country Profile: The local government system in Cameroon.”
Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, 1996: http://confinder.richmond.edu/admin/docs/Cameroon.pdf.
Desbrosses, A., 2014, WikiTerritorial du CNFPT: “La décentralisation au Cameroun: un goût d’inachevé.”
United Councils and Cities of Cameroon (UCCC), 2014: www.cvuc.cm/national/index.php/en.
Quota Project, 2013: “Cameroon.”
World Bank, 2012: “Cameroon – The Path to Fiscal Decentralization: Opportunities and Challenges.”