The nation of Cameroon was formed via a merger of two distinct colonial territories, one administered by the British and the other by the French. The two territories initially joined together in 1961 as a federation called the Federal Republic of Cameroon, but in 1972 the federation was abolished in favour of a unitary state, the United Republic of Cameroon, now known simply as the Republic of Cameroon. President Paul Biya took power in 1982 after the resignation of his predecessor, and the now 85-year-old Biya has ruled ever since. Currently, Anglophones only represent 20% of Cameroon’s population, and over time the nation has developed into a predominantly Francophone oriented state, leaving Anglophones feeling alienated. Discontent has flared over issues like a lack of job opportunities and discrimination against Anglophones, perceived central government meddling with English schools and courts in Anglophone regions, and harsh crackdowns against Anglophone protestors. In 2017, these tensions turned violent as Anglophone rebel militias emerged, declared independence from the central Cameroonian government, and began launching attacks on soldiers and strategic targets.
We recommend investing $20 million in a track II initiative that allows the central government of Cameroon to address the grievances of the anglophone general population and illustrate goodwill that will carry the country to a continued unified nation living in peace with equality to all its citizens. The proposed “Sanitation Outreach and Accessibility Project” [SOAP] is a Global Affairs Canada initiative, that will address the deteriorating human development indicator that has been attributed to the increase in frustration and violence amongst the anglophone speaking Cameroonians. Access to water and sanitation is relatively low in Cameroon and even more so in rural areas. Given that the West region of Cameroon (English speaking part of the country) has fewer urban centers, we induce that this part of the country has lower access to water and sanitation than the more urban and developed francophone region. SOAP will increase water and sanitation to less developed regions in the West of Cameroon and will be constructed in collaboration with the central government, local anglophone firms and workers, and local NGOs. The objective of this track II initiative is to alleviate tension by improving human development, allow the central government to demonstrate goodwill to its anglophone citizens, and pave the way for a peaceful solution and the continuation of a unified Cameroon.