I am currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in southeastern Cameroon as part of my graduate work in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration at the Korbel School of Int’l Studies (Univ. of Denver). My current home, Lomié, is a jungle town of between 3,000 and 5,000 people (depending on who you ask how many of the surrounding villages and dwellings you include). It is in the Upper Nyong division of the East Region and is accessible by a single dirt road. It has, however, been connected to a cell phone network since 2006, and has (semi) high-speed internet available via satellite. It is also situated at the eastern edge of the Dja Faunal Reserve, Cameroon’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is home to the western lowland gorilla, black and white colobus monkey, chimpanzee, elephant, buffalo, leopard, giant forest hog, and a long list of other animals you and I have never heard of. (See for yourself: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/407). Needless to say, the selection of local bushmeat – a local diet staple – is plentiful.
In that sense, Lomié is a bit of an oasis, as it is both extremely remote and relatively wired compared to its environs. Much of that is due to the logging and mining interests in the area. The access road leading to the paved road at Abong-Mbang, for example, is scattered with logging trucks (as well as the occasional bush taxi, aid vehicle, and Lomié resident). The Geovic mining company also uses the jungles around Lomié as a base for their cobalt and zinc mining projects.
My host institution, GeoAid, was initially started by this company in order to alleviate the effects of mining on the surrounding communities. GeoAid’s current projects include vegetable farms for local Baka (pygmy) groups, a bread-making operation, a girls sewing group, a number of agricultural education projects, and some health initiatives in which they partner with the Cameroonian government to provide preventative and curative assistance.