Paralegal extension in North-West Cameroon
The most pressing development problem in Cameroon is seen to arise from its politics, rather than it's economy or natural resource base. Processes of democratisation have stalled, human rights abuses are commonplace and the judiciary has been unable to obtain autonomy from the government. Despite recognition by the national constitution, minority groups are regarded as second-class citizens, particularly those without strong attachment to the land such as pastoralists. This includes the Mborooro-Fulani who have been systematically exploited by both state and ômiddlemenö. This paper looks at the work of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) that was set up in 1992 by the Mbororo people. Now working in partnership with a UK NGO and three local NGOs the organisation aims to protect the rights and promote the culture of all Mbororo people. Politically engaged and using the REFLECT approach, since 2001 the organisation has been focusing on two schemes: paralegal extension (using community volunteers to extend legal advice and services) and legal literacy (acquiring critical awareness of rights and the law). The paper describes how these schemes have developed, and looks at some of the key strategies used such as challenging officials and public embarrassment. Finally it assesses the impact so far, looks at what can be learnt and concludes with a look to the future.