OKANI is a community-based indigenous NGO located in East Region of Cameroon in Africa staffed by a small team and governed by a committee of Baka peoples composed of: a chairperson, treasurer, project managers and secretary elected from the member communities during the general assembly . It works to secure the rights and promote sustainable livelihoods of indigenous communities in Cameroon forest and works in support of their collective bodies known as Council of Elders. This Indigenous NGO is directly connected to community governance structures. According to mandate, feed-back to all the community is the first obligation.
Date of creation: 2004
OKANI has 9 years extensive experience in the following: advocating IP rights, managing community-based projects, including income generation, self-determined development and land use mapping, participatory video. OKANI has two finance officers who need training in accounting and project finance from FPP. The finance team has a proven capacity to manage funds in a responsible manner and report back to beneficiary communities. Grants funds from RRI, Waterloo foundation, UNDP and Plan Cameroon have all been handled responsibly by the organization.
OKANI has several outstanding and gifted community activists as well as a team of young women and men who are gaining experienced in community work. They are fully practicing their own cultures as well as doing work for the communities the men and women are good hunters and farmers’ .The team is fully indigenous and all are dedicated, committed and fully respectful of local values and community governance structures.
Partners and donors:
- Forest Peoples Programm
- Plan Cameroon
- Rights Resources Initiatives
Areas of work, vision and priorities:
OKANI is working on several main issues in Cameroon: protected areas, food security at the local level, access to land, education, and OKANI’s vision is to set up the Baka and to be sure that they can work for their personal interest.
OKANI has just successfully supported the communities to develop, agree and adopt their own map of their territory to provide the basis of their advocacy for the return of their land. They have also supported the communities to address the issue of land use in Cameroon and the new extension off agro-industry and realization of short video to address the problem of Baka’s child education.
54 communities are now working with Okani the following actions: mapping, participatory video, agriculture.
This work will include vital components and further initiatives to continue to secure title to their lands alongside the work on traditional knowledge and sustainable livelihoods, including through dialogue with government agencies.
Substantial and sustained funding for OKANI and the collective community representative bodies it serves is needed to keep up momentum in their push for their land rights through mapping and elaboration of a common global vision by the Baka themselves.
FPP considers OKANI now has the capacity to receive funding direct. FPP will continue to work with OKANI and Communities in a technical advisory role for the coming few years, but we envisage that the organization will become increasingly independent in the future.