A new implementation framework for disaster risk reduction policies and legislation for Cameroon: designing policy for action
Ashu, Richard Ekema Agbaw
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Fifty-two years after the inception of the legal framework of the Cameroon civil protection law, which aimed to mitigate, prepare and reduce risk within the national territory, Cameroon is still lagging behind in terms of implementation of disaster risk reduction policies and legislation. Statistics show that more than 700,000 people have lost their lives, with over 1.4 million injured and approximately 23 million made homeless as a result of disasters occurring around the world. In the Sahel region, at least 23.5 million people – one in six - are expected to be food insecure, of which 6 million will need urgent food assistance. One in five children under five suffers from acute malnutrition while over 30 million are threatened by one of the deadliest armed group, Boko Haram, and now, the Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon. Cameroon is at the centre of humanitarian relief, refugee response and recovery planning in the Central Africa region, and Sahel as a whole in the last three decades. Paradoxically, the findings and results of this thesis show that Cameroon demonstrates very poor pro-activeness and efficacy in coordinating and implementing disaster risk reduction and management within its national territory. Considering the endorsement of the Sendai Framework in 2015-2030, Cameroon was already a participant and member at the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) meetings and also the Hyogo Framework for Action, 2005-2015. The actual efforts on the ground summated to crises management practices and emergency response where disaster prevention and management where based on “lip-services”, bureaucracy, bottle-necks and partisan politics rather than actual implementation of DRR policy into action. Wicked implementation of public policy for disaster risk reduction are felt at different levels, administrative units and the entire Cameroonian population whose lives lie at the mercy of anthropogenic or human-made disasters. The aim of this thesis therefore was to develop a new implementation framework for disaster risk reduction policies and legislation in Cameroon. To address the purpose of this study, the thesis provided examples of implementation failures resulting from the current top-down approach. As such, the bottom-up / street-level and third generation of implementation theories are employed to provide concrete arguments on the theoretical framework used to design policy into action. This is aligned within the Words into Action framework of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR). The Concurrent Transformative Mixed Methods Research (MMR) suited the overall research design and analysis of the thesis. Given the highly normative nature of the research, this thesis by five articles consisted of either theory testing, case study, or developmental research. Implicitly, the thesis identified four critical components necessary for policy revision and change of legislation providing a model for amendment within a new disaster risk reduction framework in Cameroon. The importance of this thesis is not only limited to the policy proposal plan to update existing laws and legislation within disaster risk reduction and management efforts in Cameroon, the annexed Green paper, which presents the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Plan of Action, 2019-2025 is expected to align Cameroon’s goals towards the integration of Sendai Framework, Climate Change Adaptation (CCA and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Based on the results of this thesis, it was recommended that the remaining four of the seven sectorial studies identified from the National Disaster Prevention and Management Programme (NDPMP) could be looked into for further research. Three out of the seven targets, which were achieved in this thesis following the NDPMP supported by UNDP and the Cameroonian government were: i) revision of laws and regulations; ii) drawing up of an intervention national plan of action; iii) research on natural and technological risks and disasters. The thesis recommended that 1% of Cameroon’s annual budget should be allocated for major disaster research and programmes annually as a prerequisite to address major risks and disasters throughout the national territory.