Contract duration : 01 April 1985 – 31 August 1988

Job description : On behalf of ded (Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst; German Development Service) I worked on the government estate Mbongo of the “Société Camerounaise de Palmeraies” (SOCAPALM) – palm oil producing society - , which was the biggest Cameroonian palm oil company at that time. Mbongo estate was a one hour drive from Douala (towards Edea) in a swampy area with myriads of mosquitoes under difficult tropical conditions (average temperature: 33° C and almost 100% humidity). The specific tasks consisted in assisting the estate management to extend the period of the workers' stay on the estate. The latter suffered from the fact that lots of unskilled labourers left the estate after a short time due to the hard work, lack of appropriate living conditions, lack of leisure time activities and lack of proper land for cultivation. This problem resulted in staggering palm oil yields and never-ending training of newly recruited work forces.

Based on the preparatory work of a predecessor, I could contribute to mounting the percentage of stable workers from 30% to 80% during this three-year period. In collaboration with my Cameroonian colleague, additional sources of income have been offered to estate workers through the provision of small plots for cultivating, availability of appropriate seeds, plants and agro-services, market development in all 6 estate villages, provision of small credits, fruit tree nursery, tests with mushrooms on wood and general advice accompanying all aforementioned activities. Furthermore, other attractions for the workers have been offered such as football- (men) and handball (women) tournaments, digging of ponds for fish raising, set-up of a small library, provision of better health services and village development efforts (waste disposal, planting of fruit trees, reopening of small waterways for boating and access to the sea).