Dibamba offers locals a healthier future
Globeleq’s aim to be a good corporate citizen is not just about other people’s perceptions of the company. Caring for the communities in which Globeleq operates is part of the company’s DNA. Every one of Globeleq’s assets is involved in community initiatives to improve the lives of those who live closest to its plants.
In Cameroon, $181,252 was set aside in 2016 to invest in education, health, the environment and businesses as Globeleq’s contribution to social and economic development (SED) initiatives in the country.
When the Dibamba Power Development Company (DPDC) was reorganised two years ago, Deputy General Manager and civil engineer, Georgette Hell, was tasked to actively help empower the local community.
“It is very rewarding working at Globeleq. I had worked for the government before, and my job here allows me to stay in touch with my country’s administration. Also, because Globeleq is an excellent corporate citizen, I can take initiatives to help people knowing that I will be supported,” she says.
The Bakokos community, who live near the Dibamba power plant in Yassa, is essentially rural, Georgette says. But as the nearby city of Douala grows, they increasingly find themselves living in close proximity to urban populations and activities which can sometimes have a negative impact on their lives.
“One of the biggest challenges is dealing with changes to the environment and lives of Yassa residents because of the encroaching urbanisation. Deforestation, the destruction of mangroves and the marine ecosystem, the pollution threat from factories and mismanagement of natural resources are just some of the problems faced,” she says.
An extensive programme
However, locals also have to deal with many other challenges that have nothing to do with the growth of Cameroon’s economic capital. Poor education, unemployment and the lack of access to quality health care are just some of the problems they face. This is where Dibamba can and does help.
The six focus areas of Georgette’s job as the plant’s social responsibility programme manager are the supervision of environment, health and water issues, the coordination of electrification projects and poverty reduction activities, improving local school education and updating and coordinating the implementation of the Social Management Plan (SMP).
“In terms of education, the challenge in Yassa and its surroundings is to upgrade the school to international standards. Regarding health, while the capacity and quality of health facilities has been improved, there is a lack of management structures,” she says.
“When it comes to employment, there are many obstacles to finding and securing employment for locals. Considering environmental challenges, there is a need to support the development of small businesses and encourage a clean environment.”
To encourage a desire to excel at school, Dibamba has instituted a system of awards for the best students at public primary schools in the Yassa-Bakokos community. The office of the principal at the Yassa-Yatchica Public School has been equipped and the electrification project is on track.
Globeleq Cameroon has undertaken several projects to improve the health of the local population and facilitate access to health care. Projects include the sinking of boreholes, an ongoing outreach programme to raise awareness of water-related diseases and the need for purification, as well as the improvement of health facilities in the surrounding towns.
On the big issue of employment, a study is currently underway to determine the feasibility of establishing a modern poultry farm in the area. The plant is completely committed to complying with all legal and regulatory environmental standards.
“These are just some of the projects that are currently underway and many more are in the pipeline. We want the local community to reach a development level at least equal to uptown Douala and to make it a SMART City. We also want to develop green spaces and good sanitation for a ‘green Dibamba’,” says Georgette.
A happy place
Although Georgette’s job is not always easy, particularly as this mother of four works 300 kilometres away from her Yaoundé-based family, she clearly loves what she does.
“I am most proud of the rehabilitation of the Yassa health centre, because people no longer have to travel long distances to get lower-cost but quality health care. Thanks to our help, the head doctor has realised his dream of offering optimal healthcare services to his patients, and the community has benefited from Dibamba’s contribution”, she says.
One of the biggest success stories of the past year has been the electrification of the village of Yassa, in collaboration with ENEO, despite all the difficulties encountered in the local community.
“My biggest challenge is to ensure the involvement of the locals, because if they do not feel involved, they will not be able to take advantage of all that Globeleq’s Dibamba plant can provide them.”