The Central African Republic: Breaking the Cycle of Fragility and Conflict

In the Central African Republic, recovery and reconstruction, after its most recent civil war, will take time, political will, courage and perseverance. But there is hope: After three years of unprecedented violence and civil strife, the recent presidential elections have opened the door for a fragile peace brokering process.

Now, for the first time, citizens have a democratically elected president and parliament. A 12,000 armed strong peacekeeping mission is deployed on the entire territory that is able to contain the armed groups scattered throughout the territory. Despite its entrenched poverty, and frail economic and social climate, the CAR’s public finances are no longer in acute crisis. Regionally, there are signs of a rebound in confidence, with the resumption of international flights to Kenya and the reopening of the road corridor to Douala.

And with this tailwind, the people of the Central African Republic, their leaders and development partners can make real progress toward the kind of positive change that can make a difference in the lives of citizens that have been hardest hit by violence and civil strife.

In the words of Faustin Archange Touadera, the President of the Central African Republic, the country has come a long way. “In the past three years, it went through a deep crisis which involved appalling crimes and violence. The structure of the economy is in ruins, social cohesion has been wrecked. The very foundations of the State are no longer there. In addition, armed groups are still in possession of weapons. Thus our challenge is above all peace, the restoration of peace, national unity, and social cohesion,” he said in an interview during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. “We wish to show that we are determined to leave that situation behind, with the help of resolute reforms and currently, our main support is the will of the people of the country to turn the page,” he added.

Support from the international community has helped stabilize the situation, providing basic security and humanitarian services. As a result, the number of IDPs and refugees has decreased, although still at 900,000 people to date. However setbacks are to be expected in this fragile state, as the recent outbreaks of violence in the past two months have shown, both in Bangui and more recently in Kaga Bandoro, 300 kilometers east of Bangui.

” We must ensure that that our farmers get back to work. In fact, 80% of our population lives in the countryside, where the main activity is agriculture. So, to promote agriculture means to help 80% of the population “

Building a better future

About 2.3 million people, around half of the country’s population, are still in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. But the country is rich in natural resources. With plenty of water and arable land, these citizens can rebuild their lives and become food secure. By working to diversify the extractives industry and developing its agriculture sector, the CAR could drive its economy. But it will take commitment from the international community: commitment that goes beyond stabilization efforts and humanitarian aid.

“We must ensure that that our farmers get back to work,” said President Touadera in his recent interview. “Many persons were displaced as a result of the crisis. The people can no longer go to the fields. A disarmament program will, I believe, restore peace and enable our farmers to resume their activities () In fact, 80% of our population lives in the countryside, where the main activity is agriculture. So, to promote agriculture means to help 80% of the population,” he added.

The World Bank Group is working with partners to ensure that this fragile and hard-won stability is lasting. “The organization of credible elections, the Government’s commitment to implement major reforms and the end of open conflicts have created a window of opportunity to break the fragility trap,” said Paul Noumba Um, the World Bank Country Director for the Central African Republic, Mali, Niger, Chad and Guinea.

The World Bank has recently approved an ambitious USD 250 million program over the next three years through its IDA Turnaround facility, which includes 11 projects combining stabilization and development efforts. “It’s five times higher than the regular allocation provided to the country by the International Development Association (IDA) and has been designed in close collaboration with the authorities and other donors,” noted Jean-Christophe Carret, the World Bank Country manager for the Central African Republic. “Our top 3 priorities are public finances management, reintegration of both former combatants and displaced population as well as job creation, through a large road reopening and agriculture program,” he said.

In addition, the WB is co-leading, alongside the UN and the EU, a Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA) – to define the country’s priorities over the short and medium term- and the preparation of an International Donor Conference for CAR which will take place in Brussels on November 17, 2016. The RPBA identifies urgent needs at USD 120 per capita per year, which equals more than doubling compared to actual aid provided in 2012.

According to Paul Noumba Um, “With our help, and strong coordination with other partners, the Central African Republic can become a post-conflict reconstruction success story. It will take continued effort to ensure peace and stability, but it is worth it.”

Source: World Bank.