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The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MINDUH)
From small villages to big cities
If there is any domain that has made remarkable progress since Cameroon’s Independence it’s that of urban development and housing. The modern look of our Cameroonian towns, at least the major cities like Douala, Yaoundé, Garoua, Bamenda, Bafoussam, Maroua or Ebolowa, are very much different from the big villages that they were when we look back at ‘old pictures taken on the eve of our Independence’ words of President Biya to the youths on February 10,2010. In the era when the Messa ’Camp Sic’ neighbourhood, known as the civil servants camp at the time was a series of grass huts with mud walls. This Changes are visible not only bin physical features but equally in the demographical institutional point of view.
1/ -The story of an Urban development sector in constant evolution
In creating the Ministry of Urban development and Housing by decree n°2004/320 of December 8, 2004, on the organisation of the government, the President of the Republic, Paul Biya made concrete one of his most cherished dreams, which is to be more practical in the urban development sector. In order to implement the national policy in relation to this sector, this Ministry amongst other functions is in charge of town planning ,control and development; the preparation and implementation of integrated social development strategies in the different urban regions ; the implementation of the housing policy, the definition and monitoring of the application of the regulations relating to housing .It therefore normal for MINDUH to work in collaboration with decentralised regional communities as well as all the actors of the civil society.
The creation of the Ministry of Urban Development and housing in 2004, at the level of the institutional landscape, does not in any way mean a belated awareness of the government of the Republic in urban matters.
The creation of Minduh which is a real institutional evolution in the sector, coincides with the dissolution of the Ministry of Town Planning and Housing created by decree n° 79/492 and organized by decree n°79/494; Its main responsibilities despite several reorganizations have not changed in the least, but are more than ever concerned with resolving the most complex urban problems.
In fact, the disorderly urban growth due to rural exodus will oblige the president to give a new orientation to the urban development policy by creating a Ministry of Towns on December 7, 1997 (MINVIL). Indeed, in his speech of October 2, 1997, in Maroua addressing Cameroonian city dwellers, he declared: « I commit myself »:
Representatives of petty traders and of the informal sector will be consulted so as to better intergrate them in the economic process. Thus, President Biya in prioritizing the various challenges faced by Cameroon, goes on to put an accelerated urban programme at the forefront of his policies. In the same vein, during his speech in Douala, on October 11,1997, he declared that ‘ the first challenge is that of an accelerated urbanization scheme ; its equally a major challenge to all nations at the end of this century…we have to continue maintaining and increasing urban infrastructures, road networks, government buildings. There is a need to provide water, electricity and telephone supply to all families as well as proximity schools and dispensaries for children. We must provide all the inhabitants with the necessary peaceful atmosphere and security which they need to carry out their activities ; the issue about growing insecurity is a vice present in all our major cities, it‘s a global issue. We need to know how to handle it and embark on a merciless fight against organised crime.
These challenges define the responsibilities of the new Ministry of Towns yet to be created. Acccording, to President Paul Biya ‘this Ministry shall be in charge of promoting a more dynamic Urbanism policy. They will equally update urban programmes, ensure their implementation and set up a new stage for our housing policy with the support of the private sector. The Ministry of Towns will equally monitor the required balance needed in the division of open space for houses, industrial zones so as to ensure the protection of the environment.
For a period of about 7 years (from December 7, 1997 to December 8, 2004), MINVIL will focus on accomplising the vision of the Head of State Paul Biya. A task which the present Ministry of Urban Development and Housing carried on, and whose impact on improving urban transportation, urban planning and cleaning refuse dumps is a tangible reality.