Cameroon’s lone oil refining company (SONARA) ,located in Limbe ,is doing little or nothing in assuming its corporate social responsibility, a research carried out by a Cameroonian non-governmental organization, African Center for Research, Development and Climate Change (AFREDECC) has revealed.
The research by AFREDECC, based in Limbe, was intended to “evaluate the impact of SONARA’s engagement with the population in general” and was funded by PASOC, a subprogram of European Union in Cameroon. The two-week survey was carried out in August 2010.
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He said because SONARA refused to cooperate in the study, AFREDECC could not get from the oil company itself what it has been doing in the domain of corporate social responsibility.AFREDECC, he said, then relied on the responses of a total of 3500 ten-question questionnaires that were sent out to surrounding communities in Limbe and elsewhere.
According to Mr.Zama, up to 88% of the 3500 people polled said that they had not benefited from any SONARA-sponsored activity. Of the 12% who admitted having benefited said they gained assistance in form of health care, education and water.
“This clearly shows that a large number of people have never benefited from a SONARA-funded project, “according to the findings, which ,Mr. Zama said, had been submitted to SONARA in the hope that it would improve relations with the surrounding communities and the public in general.
Fifty-four (54%) of the 3500 sampled know about SONARA and its activities while 46% of them know SONARA as a company but do not know its activities.
Almost all the 3500 respondents -that is 91.5% of them, called on SONARA to allocate more funds for social facilities open to the public. Seventy-six (76%) of the respondent said they did not know the “socio-economic impact of SONARA activities on their lives and communities and 76% not aware of the environmental impact of SONARA activity on their lives and communities”. Sixty-four (64%) of the respondents described as weak, SONARA’s relationship with the local population, suggesting that the oil company should consider improving communication with the public.
“The survey showed that 88% don’t think that the presence of SONARA in the Southwest region reduces local unemployment and only 20 % feel SONARA‘s presence has reduced local unemployment”, Mr. Zama said. “It is important for SONARA to recruit more local people-either on contract or permanent basis”, he suggested.
The opinion poll revealed that the communities would be ready and willing to contribute to SONARA’s environmental management plan if they knew what to do. Up to 72% expressed their interest to assist such as plan, whereas 28% said they did not want to have anything to do with SONARA’s environmental management program.
Mr. Zama disclosed that AFREDECC before the press conference had presented its SONARA findings to Limbe Traditional council and Limbe Chiefs Conference in the hope that as stakeholders they could further persuade SONARA to take its corporate social responsibility much more seriously
The Mayor of Limbe II council, where SONARA is located, was represented at the ceremony by his PRO and litigation officer, Charles Lobe
“I am very impressed with the research findings. The research was rich in principle and quality. The findings reflect the opinion of my council. Look at our new park. We have approached SONARA to get some funds to install electricity and water, but SONARA has given us a deaf ear”, the mayor’s representative told reporters
“Although the council is near SONARA, we don not benefit anything in terms of its corporate social responsibility.SONARA is 30 years old but a nearby locality Mokundange lacks drinking water,” Mr. Lobe said, adding that “We have made several requests and SONARA has made broken promises in exchange.”
AFREDECC, created in 2007, has as main focus environmental sustainability. It is a youth-led NGO and member of several international organizations.AFREDECC has represented Cameroon abroad at international conferences