Providing alternatives for youth to joining violent extremist groups in Cameroon

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations resolves a fishing conflict on Lake Maga that was pushing young fisherman to seek any means to make a living

A Project of
Cameroon

Sabina Behague

More than 60% of people in the Lake Maga region of northern Camaroon earn their living from fishing. Each fisherman has an average of 10 family members, totaling more than 16,000 mouths to feed. The fishermen did not understand the regulation of fishing on the lake and the importance of the biological recovery period for fish.

As a result, oversight committees began to monitor Lake Maga, ensuring that the fishing cycle was respected to avoid killing immature fish. However, the armed oversight committees were overstepping their authority, assaulting young fishermen, taking their nets and canoes, and fighting with them, resulting in serious injuries.

V4P training on conflict management and advocacy in Maga

In the midst of this situation, Voices for Peace was training 300 members from local communities, including 30 from Maga, on how to advocate and how to manage potentially violent conflicts. Following this training, the V4P team agreed to work with the locals in Maga to create an advocacy campaign and lead conflict management meetings to address the fishing conflict.

V4P and local residents organized a Civil Society Coalition, which held meetings between the leaders of the oversight committees and fishermen from Pouss and Maga in the presence of the sultan’s representative and the leaders of herders and fishermen. The meetings taught participants about non-violent conflict management around the fishing activities, and, at the same time, the regulatory texts on fishing resource management were explained to the fishermen. Finally, everyone has agreed to conduct a major awareness-raising campaign on the regulations of fishing activities on the lake. Thanks to this activity, calm has returned between the communities of fishermen and the oversight committees.

You know, fishing on the lake is the most important economic activity in Maga. It’s the lung of our community. Conflicts on the lake that prevent young people from fishing and earning a living are very dangerous. You must have heard that a few years ago in Pouss, which is only a few kilometers from here, the defense forces destroyed a Boko Haram recruitment camp. We know that the young people found in these camps were attracted because they had no viable way of earning a living. You see, that’s why the work of Voices for Peace has been very commendable,” said Malika Isaac, a member of the Civil Society Coalition in Maga.

We cannot afford to have conflicts on the lake, because if young people cannot fish, they will turn to very dangerous activities, including those linked to violent extremist organizations.