International Development Planning Review

Shoring up local development initiatives: elderly elite and conscientised empowerment in Cameroon

International Development Planning Review (2017), 39, (2), 123–142.

Abstract

The elderly elite constitute a category of social actors implicated in local development through consciousness-raising. The analytic ideas of empowerment and agency, asset-based approaches, social capital, and relational networking inform this paper. Utilising a case study approach, and empirical accounts from the Ndong Awing Cultural and Development Association (NACDA), in the North-West Region of Cameroon, this article explores conscientised empowerment, a strategy deployed to awaken the local community for social change. The interplay of sociocultural dynamics, gender considerations, community mobilisation and sustainability are intricately balanced, resulting in the community being revived through a renewed development mindset. While expectations of elite involvement remain grandiose; the elite involved in this village-centric development project navigate community aspirations while safeguarding their self-interests. Though elite involvement proves contentious, the community is galvanised by a development manifesto calibrated through relational networking. Local development policy and planning require the harnessing of incremental community resources, building on the agency of key stakeholders, in synergy with the state and other external partners, to realise an effective repositioning of social development.

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Fonchingong, Charles

Fonchingong, Charles