The Concept of National Solidarity

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Bases

National Solidarity which is a mission assigned to the Ministry of Social Affairs, appears as a new concept at the institutional level but paradoxically former because rooted in our traditional values. Its objective is to contribute to the fulfilment of all in the community.
In 1987, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr. Paul BIYA presented solidarity as a duty underlying the strategy of social development essential to the emergence and fulfilment of a modern and inclusive Cameroonian society.
In his work “Pour le Libéralisme Communautaire”, the Head of State pointed it out opportunely in these terms: “The modern Cameroonian society of which we call the emergence and fulfilment would be a giant with clay feet if it does not feed itself with traditional values as numerous as enriching.  One of these fundamental values is the sense of community here presented as a duty of solidarity”.
This perception of solidarity as a determinant of development will be supported by the World Summit on Social Development held in 1995 in Copenhagen and organised under the auspices of the United Nations. Thus the Copenhagen Summit has consecrated the main place to the human being in any sustainable development programme.
In addition, the 8th Millenium Development Goal (MDG) presented international solidarity as one of the strategies to attain MDG in 2015.   This shows that solidarity is a development matrix both at national and international levels.
In order to lay emphasis on it once more, the Head of State, His Excellency Paul BIYA, in his profession of faith during his candidature for the presidential election of October 11, 2004, said: "Social progress is and remains our priority".
While taking Social Progress as the engine of all the action of the Government, the Head of State who in conformity with the Constitution, is responsible for the definition of the policy of the nation, makes social dimension, the substance of his policy.
The First Forum on National Solidarity in Cameroon, held from June 21 to June 24, 2005, can be considered therefore as the concrete expression of a desire to unite the vast treasure of traditional values, with national and international responses related to the requirements of everybody's welfare.
This vision of the Head of State is and remains a priority. Thus, in his message of December 31, 2012 to the nation on the occasion of the end of the year 2012 and New Year 2013, he said: "I do not forget that the essential aim of the progress of our country is to improve the living conditions of our citizens, but, in this respect, we should recognise that much remains to be done".

Definition and content

National Solidarity globally results from the outcome of an approach which centred on security mechanisms, compensation, promotion or valorisation of socially vulnerable populations for their empowerment and the restoration of their human dignity.  Its vocation is to evolve into a platform where public and para-public administrations, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, civil society, the private sector and target populations combine legal, institutional, technical, financial, social, cultural and economic means to eradicate social exclusion, poverty and precariousness, vulnerability in one word.
National Solidarity presents itself as the whole of initiatives, attitudes and activities organised and rationalised taken both at the government and each individual levels in order to help social groups in a seriously distress situation and unable to solve unanticipated situations that overwhelm them without support.
However, that solidarity should differentiate itself from parasitism because as noted by the Head of State in his abovementioned book, it is a double solidarity, both in the effort and in sharing fruits of this effort. Thus, the aim sought is the empowerment of vulnerable groups to take part effectively in the development of our country.
Thus, National Solidarity will be defined as the generalisation of the protection of vulnerable social groups to all social organisations.  It is based on two principles: the bias in favour of vulnerable groups on the one hand, and intervention practices favourable to social cohesion and collective and participative action, on the other.
- The bias in favour of vulnerable social groups is based on the recognition by society of the vulnerability of some groups face to the risks and fundamental social problems and their inability to deal individually with these unfavourable conditions.  Hence the need to mobilise all the organisations of the society in order to inflect vulnerability and favour social integration;
- Within the framework of intervention practices favourable to social cohesion, collective and participative action, the emphasis is laid on common actions carried out by collective organisations defending social rights of vulnerable people, from community initiatives favouring active participation of the concerned and members of their living environment, with the institutional support of public forces.
While focusing actions on the answer to the problems arising from vulnerability, these joint initiatives aroused by national solidarity, value interpersonal relationships.  Their interventions include mutual aid services, community support, public actions of fundraising, alternative resources to traditional public services and defence of rights and interests of target populations.
Two main areas are emphasized: the development of local solidarity initiatives in favour of vulnerable groups and the public support to mutual assistance and integration networks of vulnerable populations.

Target groups

Vulnerability is the precarious state in which an individual or a group is first exposed to risks arising from harmful effects caused by unfavourable situations.  These situations may be natural, caused by the man or his environment.
Individuals or groups exposed may be children, women, persons with disabilities, older persons, vulnerable indigenous people, people living with HIV/AIDS, border populations, prisoners, refugees, victims, people of enclosed areas, people in high-risk areas, displaced populations, prostitute(s),  persons with an impairment, etc.
The special circumstances that render these people vulnerable call for a strengthening of a system of solidarity which is a guarantee to ensure security and well-being.

Activities

National solidarity is materialised towards its targets by direct or indirect actions, permanent or temporary assistance and multifaceted support for their full fulfilment and their participation in development.
Thus, these actions are declined in material, medical or financial assistance.
They can also take the form of capacity building of the concerned or to funding of their income generating activities.  Indirectly, they reach the target through subsidies to private structures responsible for their care.
As the Minister of Social Affairs, was saying, it consists, for all the stakeholders, in going beyond the traditional palliative assistance to vulnerable individuals and groups, to further give preference to targeted and multi-sectorial support for the empowerment of these groups.   And the triptych "Support - Accompaniment - Empowerment" shall lead to a total fulfilment of all target populations of national solidarity as human beings and citizens of the world.
Within the framework of decentralization ongoing in Cameroon with the transfer of some responsibilities from the state to Regional and Local Authorities namely councils as corollary, it is now around these councils that is organized the satisfaction of the needs of the target populations of national solidarity (see Decree N°2010/0243/PM of February 26, 2010 laying down the procedures for the exercise of responsibilities transferred by the State to local councils in matters related to the allocation of aid and relief to the poor and needy and Order N°2010 / /A/MINAS of August 27, 2010 concerning specifications related to the conditions and technical modalities for the exercise of the powers transferred by the State to local councils in matters related to the allocation of aid and relief to the poor and needy).

Prospects

The establishment of a National Solidarity Fund in Cameroon is one of the strong recommendations of the first Forum on National Solidarity held from June 21 to June 24, 2005 in Yaounde.
The National Solidarity Fund is a tool for the implementation of the government policy in the search for a balance between population growth and the progressive valorisation of human resources.  In this case, the State of Cameroon is concerned with improving the health of people in general, the promotion of basic education for all, strengthening of the fight against unemployment and improving conditions appropriate to the fulfilment and preservation of the needy and vulnerable individuals.
Thus, the fund would serve as a frame of reference responsible for initiating specific and corrective measures to better integrate disadvantaged individuals and groups and reduce disparities and socioeconomic differences;
The organization of a week of solidarity which will aim to raise awareness of the national and international community on the necessity to pool financial, human and material means.

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