Reminding Government of WCD, Environmental Laws

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On the 5th anniversary of the World Commission on Dams, Global Village Cameroon wrote the following open letter to the Prime Minister of Cameroon and the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection reminding them of what is expected in the development of the Lom Pangar Dam. The letter is based on the World Commission on Dams report and the Cameroon law guiding environmental impact assessments were used.

This letter was written to let the government know what we feel is not going on well with the Lom Pangar dam project and other dams programmed in Cameroon. Information concerning the EIA for the Lom Pangar is not yet made public and consultation of local people and the NGOs has been poor. The EIA consultants for the Lom Pangar just finished their work and handed the document to the Minister of Energy and Water in the restitution meeting organized by ARSEL Cameroon’s Electricity Regulation Agency and the Ministry of Energy and Water on the 21st of October 2005. The Ministry of Energy and Water has to transmit the document to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection who heads the inter–ministerial committee that will study the EIA document before validation. The civil society and public up till this moment have not had access to the EIA despite promises made by ARSEL that the document was to be publicly available after the restitution meeting of 21st October 2005.

Here are four indispensable and fundamental points Global Village Cameroon sees necessary for the government to address

  • Cameroon has an Energy Policy Plan and it is from this that the government made a choice of Lom Pangar dam project. The Energy Policy Plan has not been made public for the civil society and the public to evaluate whether Lom Pangar is really the best option. The government seems to have already the politician will to construct the dam.

  • WCD report recommends clearly that priority needs to be given for the amelioration of existing dams to meet the set standards, in Cameroon dams have not been improved upon. Cameroon has a list of dams she is to construct so soon.

  • Social and environmental factors needs to be given the same weight as economic and financial aspects in dam projects.

  • The local population and NGOs need to be informed and consulted during the EIA phase and about the position of the EIA document at each time and step.

It is for this reason that GVC addressed this letter to the government. GVC carried out studies in Mape and Bamendjin Dams and found out that the intake capacity of water in the two dams have reduced greatly in 30and 25 years respectively.

ALUCAM, Cameroon’s aluminium smelting company, privatized to ALCAN a Canadian based profit–driven multinational recently signed a protocol with the Cameroon government to build, operate and use the Nachtigal Dam. This will increase their production from 100,000 tons to 260,000 tons.Alucam pays about 8FCFA for electricity consumption while other Aluminium industries pay 12FCFA. ALUCAM is the highest consumer of electricity in Cameroon. ALCAN has not also made public the agreement they signed with the government and it is not yet clear how ALCAN benefits the Cameroon people.

GVC has worked in vain till now to get the EIA document made public. The government now says it will only publish it in the website of IUCN, Very few Cameroonians have access to the internet not to talk of printing the voluminous document from the internet at this time that poverty has affected the majority of Cameroonians. We do not know how soon this will happen.

GVC ask the government to give the civil society at least four months to study and make comments on the EIA before the final decision on its validation is made.

GVC also ask the government to make public the following documents:

  • the new National Energy Plan
  • the EIA document that has been divided in 25 themes
  • the Environmental Action Plan which define how environmental problems will be followed up and present the calendar of activities defining the responsibilities of each actor in project