- What is Global Partnership?
- Meet Ebolowa
- Sustainable cocoa and chocolate
- More green in the city
- Education / schools
- Made in Ebolowa
- Citizen Participation
The essence of a global partnership is that both local authorities, together with external partners, exchange knowledge and experience on topics that are important to both cities.
Bruges and Ebolowa are convinced that global challenges, like climate change, poverty and inequality, should be tackled in tandem. We have enlisted partners from the private sector, education and civil society to bolster our campaigns and thus contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
Ebolowa is a provincial town surrounded by tropical rainforest in French-speaking southern Cameroon. Our partner city is home to some 150,000 people, more than half of whom are under the age of 30.
Because of the green environment, agriculture, and in particular cocoa farming, is an important economic activity, along with wood processing, machine building, fishing, etc.
Ebolowa is a young, dynamic and enterprising town and is, just like Bruges, a Fair Trade Town. With the label 'Made in Ebolowa', it has decided to promote itself as a city of 'sustainable farmers'.
More information: www.ebolowa.net
Why work together on a sustainable chocolate chain?
Simply because we are united by cocoa and chocolate and we believe that chocolate is only truly delicious when it also has an impact on the various links in the chain: from cocoa farmer to the chocaholic.
Deforestation, child labour, low wages and poor working conditions bring pressure to bear on the chocolate sector. As a local government, we wish to support the transition to more sustainable chocolate.
With this partnership, we are taking a step in the right direction by joining forces with the Bruges Chocolate Guild and cocoa cooperative Bityili in Ebolowa.
The partnership of Bruges and Ebolowa explained
Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population and 80% of the global economic output. They lead the way as pioneers on sustainability issues, developing innovative solutions for environmental, social and economic challenges. Better knowledge about specific local conditions allows the development and promotion of context-specific solutions that are more likely to resonate with citizens, thus having greater impact. Cities play a crucial role in achieving the SDGs, and city-to-city alliances are steadily emerging. The partnership between Bruges, Belgium, and Ebolowa, Cameroon, highlights the potential of synergies among the Global South and Global North.
Through policies and funding instruments such as the Aid for Trade (AfT) strategy and the EU External Investment Plan (EIP), the EU aims to support partner countries often facing internal constraints which prevent them from accessing the economic benefits of expanded trade. Moreover, EU initiatives such as the EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award focus on EU citizens’ awareness of the external trade realities and the role that purchasing decisions play in supporting better trade.
Do you want to read more about how Bruges and Ebolowa have partnered up for a more sustainable chocolate value chain, follow this link.
From sustainable cocoa in Ebolowa…
Ebolowa is a green provincial capital in Southern Cameroon where cocoa can be found in abundance. Moreover, Ebolowa is a Fair Trade City and has its own chocolate brand 'Keka Wongan'. In Ebolowa, the cultivation of cocoa is an important source of income for many inhabitants. Climate change, deforestation and excessively low wages mean that the cocoa farmer’s profession is under pressure. With the 'Made in Ebolowa' label, the city council and local farmers are working to promote fair trade in Cameroon.
In Ebolowa, there are many cocoa farmers who work together in cooperatives. One of these cocoa cooperatives is Bityili. This is a young organisation that is fully committed to sustainable production with a view to improving the quality of the beans. Better quality means a better price. And a better price provides the cooperative and its community with more opportunities for a stable future.
Through the partnership, we aim to raise awareness, exchange with other cooperatives, train cocoa farmers and provide them with logistical support to make sustainable production doable.
Towards sustainable chocolate in Bruges…
Bruges is not only a chocolate capital, it is also a Fair Trade City.
Together with the Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers, we brought these two worlds together in a delicious Fair Trade chocolate bar 'Sjokla'. We are currently looking into the feasibility of producing Sjokla with cocoa from our partner city. With this city product, we wish to underline the importance of sustainable chocolate and the respect for the craftsmanship of both the cocoa farmers and chocolatiers.
In the meantime, we are committed to continuing our efforts and turning Bruges into a sustainable chocolate city. In the first place by measuring. We have mapped out how the people of Bruges and the Bruges chocolate sector perceive sustainable chocolate. Armed with this information, we are now planning concrete initiatives to turn sustainable cocoa and chocolate into a reality.
It is not only Bruges that is adding more greenery to its city, in Ebolowa, too, reforestation is being addressed. Ebolowa is surrounded by tropical rainforest, which provides food, firewood and remedies against certain diseases. Many people make use of it, which, of course, affects the forest’s survival. To compensate for this felling, Ebolowa commits to reforestation and adding more green to certain streets, parks and schools. Not only will the trees serve as shaded areas, the various flowers and plants will make the city more attractive and contribute to biodiversity. To achieve this, a plant nursery will be started where young people from the USEP social employment programme will be trained as green workers.
The Cameroonian 'indomitable lions' against the Belgian 'red devils', that would certainly produce some fireworks, wouldn't it? Ebolowa is, just like Bruges, a football-loving city. Balls are kicked into imaginary goals on every street corner and tournaments are organised between companies, schools, communities and amateur football teams. Football is omnipresent. Not only does it provide entertainment and recreation, it also affects society and should be accessible to everyone. Girls, in particular, are still too often faced with barriers to practising their favourite sport. That is precisely why Ebolowa would like to focus on girls' football.
Together with our two city teams, Club and Cercle Brugge, we are joining forces to enhance the football experience in Ebolowa. In the coming years, there will be exchanges in women's and youth football, among other things. And of course, a jersey swap is part of that.
Active world citizenship is what we aim to achieve with this partnership. By enabling exchanges between teachers, lecturers, students and pupils. By stimulating student work placements and projects in Ebolowa and Bruges. Here are a few testimonies...
Ids Coone, Sports and Movement student at Howest:
"For our IP case, we worked out some proposals on an accessible mobility policy in Ebolowa, albeit remotely, but still in close consultation with Ebolowa’s city council. For my internship, I am going to map the thresholds around girls' football together with my Cameroonian colleague and set up a specific project around this."
Eli Noë, economics and geography teacher at Middenschool Brugge Centrum:
"Together with Lycée Classique et Moderne d'Ebolowa, we are currently developing an action plan around a number of SDGs that appeal to us both, such as climate action, gender equality, … We are opting for a sustainable school partnership, because we think it is the best way to make active world citizenship tangible."
Secondary and primary schools can also establish a digital school link with a school in Ebolowa. If you are interested, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us!
Just like Bruges, Ebolowa is a city of enterprise, a city of makers as well as a Fair Trade City.
With the 'Made in Ebolowa' label, our partner city supports farmers and makers who consciously embrace sustainability and fair trade.
In both Ebolowa and Bruges, campaigns are launched annually to draw attention to the importance and impact of Fair Trade. Ebolowa mainly focuses on local farmers and cooperatives, while Bruges targets its citizens, schools, associations, companies and catering establishments.
Raising awareness about all the links in the chain and concrete projects that generate an impact for the farmers: that is what this partnership is all about.
Organising a Fair Trade Week, supporting cocoa farmers and chocolate manufacturers with training and communication, investing in cooperatives that want to make their production more sustainable... are just some of the initiatives within the Fair Trade partnership.
As a local government, you are closest to the people, and it is also necessary to involve them in the policy and update them on the plans and achievements to date.
Ebolowa recently launched a website where more details are posted about the city council’s services, among other things, for the benefit of its residents and visitors alike.
In addition, with the concept of 'SDG Clubs', our partner city is involving more young people in the city’s policy. Through intensive workshops, young people will be informed about the SDGs and the way they themselves can help shape their city.
Just like Bruges, Ebolowa is also being affected by the pandemic. Fortunately, the city has the virus well under control. The efficient monitoring and the preventive measures Ebolowa has taken, and continues to take, are certainly partly attributable to this. The City of Bruges’ emergency fund donated EUR 22,000 and the Province of West Flanders subsidised EUR 8,254 to help Ebolowa in its fight against the pandemic.
Impact of Covid 19 in Ebolowa
In May 2020, Ebolowa went into partial lockdown, which led to a tangible food crisis among its citizens. That’s why it was important to kickstart the economy first.
As in Bruges, schools in Ebolowa were closed from April to October as a result of the pandemic. At the start of the school year, all buildings had to be disinfected and the number of class sizes had to be halved, which led to very long working days for the teachers.
Raising awareness and disinfection
One of the preventive measures that the local government of Ebolowa (CUE) has strongly emphasised is raising awareness among the population and the disinfection of public buildings. To this end, they worked with the youth organisation Young Pacifists Association for Development (PACILICA), which was trained by a health worker. Specifically, the young people went into the neighbourhoods to draw people's attention to the measures in the local language (Bulu).
They were also deployed to relieve the staff in the hospitals; also, they disinfected about 38 schools, markets and bus stations. Preventive messages against Covid 19 were painted on various (school) walls across the city.
Purchase and distribution of hospital equipment and protective kits
Besides raising awareness and disinfection, equipment and protective kits were purchased for all schools in Ebolowa and 5 small-scale health centres. The equipment, which includes ThermoFlash thermometers, face masks, bandages, hand sanitiser, workwear, soap and bleach, enables staff at these centres to protect themselves better and deal with suspected cases quickly. For two months, 15,000 residents can be treated with this equipment, which is primarily intended for containing the pandemic, but can also be used in the fight against other diseases, such as malaria. All schools in Ebolowa have been equipped with the necessary hand sanitiser and masks to protect themselves from the virus.
As in Belgium, it is compulsory to wear a face mask in public places. The CUE distributed 5,645 face masks to health centres, schools and markets and purchased 3 sewing machines. These will initially be used to make face masks at the Technical College, the Centre for the Promotion of Women and the Family, and the Ebolowa Leprosarium. Thereafter, they will continue to be used in a sustainable way by students taking sewing classes.
The Bruges - Ebolowa global partnership is based on a variety of stakeholder partnerships. We are always open to new partnerships that strengthen the sustainable urban policy in both cities.
If you would you like to contribute to the existing projects or if you have your own ideas or proposals, do let us know via email@example.com.