The Central African Republic has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960. It is rich in natural and mineral resources but has one of the poorest populations in the world. The country is prone to regional power struggles among armed groups and across borders.
During the recent crisis in late 2012 and early 2013, rebel groups angered by the government’s neglect of the country’s mainly Muslim North and the failure to implement a peace plan from a previous civil war, formed the Séléka and seized power.
Their attacks on civilians led to retaliation by primarily Christian and animist militias known as the Anti-Balaka. Large scale violence made almost a quarter of the population million people flee to other parts of CAR or to neighboring countries.
There is a United Nations peacekeeping force of more than 11,000 in the country. Governments in the region brokered the departure of the Séléka from power and installed a transitional government and in February 2016, President Faustin Archange Touadéra was elected. He has been pushing to disarm and reintegrate armed groups but the process is not smooth.
Cordaid in Central African Republic (CAR)
After decades of funding the programs of local mainly faith-based partners, Cordaid began direct implementation of programs in CAR in 2008 when we opened a country office. Cordaid RCA is specialized in several areas, including strengthening health and education systems, emergency humanitarian aid, and social cohesion.
In CAR, Cordaid introduced and implemented a number of innovations, including performance-based financing system (PBF), with the objective of improving the quantity and quality of services provided to the population in the area of health and education Cordaid has been running education programs in the CAR since 2010 and healthcare programs since 2009. An emergency aid program is also active.
There have been many challenges, including in 2013 and 2015, looting of the Bangui office and the temporary evacuation of some of our expatriate staff and suspension of some activities. Thanks in particular to the dedication of our Central African colleagues and the PBF methodology, health and education could continue and in 2015, Cordaid Bangui moved offices to a new and more secure location. Cordaid CAR has six suboffices in Alindao, Bangassou, Berberati, Bossangoa, Bouar and Bozoum and Bocaranga.
In addition to our own financing, our projects have been supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bêkou Fund of the European Union, the Global Fund, DFID, UN agencies and Misereor. Partners involved in implementation include the Ministry of Health in CAR, the Ministry of Education in CAR, or the National Performance-Based Financing Cell, as well as national and (Caritas national and Diocesaine, Conasan, ASSOMESCA, the Platform for Inter-Religious Dialogue, FCA, etc.), national NGOs like ACABEF as well as international consortium partners like IMC and Mentor.
Emergency aid – Cordaid is conducting an assessment on the needs of the thousands of internally displaced persons in the region of Bouzoum. We are running an emergency aid program in the western and central regions. Together with Caritas we provided food parcels for 2000 refugees in Bangui. 1700 farmers were provided with seeds such as corn, grain and rice.
Our program ran in Bozoum (CARJR1) and now in Bocaranga, please see details below. Since May 2015, Cordaid is the lead of a consortium with 8 partners, under the Dutch Relief Alliance mechanism. The funds for this mechanism are provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Actors are Cordaid, Oxfam, ICCO, PLAN, St. Vluchteling/IRC, Tear, Warchild and WorldVision. The program is called the CAR Joint Response, and we are currently halfway phase 2, that is ending 31 March 2016. It is a humanitarian program focussing on emergency needs of the affected population, based on the Humanitarian Response Plans of 2015 (phase 1) and 2016 (phase 2). Total budget for both programs is Euro 12 million for all partners.
Under CARJR1 we reached 22.048 people with Food Security activities and 38.362 with Wash activities. Budget CARJR1 was Euro 760.000.
Cordaid is supporting IDPs and host families in the Bocaranga and Koui area, that recently fled the area due to new violence of the Siliki, militia based in Cameroun crossing the border to gain power in the region, burning down villages, killing people and steeling their resources (cattle and agricultural produce).
We support within the sectors of food security and wash: providing food packs, vouchers and short cycle seeds to most vulnerable families; emergency latrines, cleaning water wells; supporting farmer groups with seeds and tools and agricultural training. In total, we target 28.020 people with Food Security activities and 4. 200 with Wash activities under CARJR2. Budget CARJR2 is Euro 575.000.
Cordaid’s Humanitarian unit is also working, with MiN funding (euro 200.000), in the Damara region, to support a community of around 9.000 people, where people have returned after they crossed the river into DR Congo to seek shelter from violent events (last time in 2015). They are left without any assistance. Cordaid is supporting 300 families to rebuild their shelters and is providing hygiene promotion as in the past months a cholera epidemic touched the area.
Peacebuilding – Cordaid is participating in an operation of radio programs in collaboration with the Archbishop and the Grand Imam of Bangui and young Muslims and Christians on the themes of peace, justice and reconciliation.
In addition, Cordaid organized training of trainers in peacebuilding for 30 community leaders representing different faiths and other civil society organizations. We also held a training of 270 community leaders in peacebuilding in nine dioceses. Cordaid is also supporting the local Caritas with capacity building and technical support.
Healthcare – The Healthcare program in CAR is led by a team of 12 doctors, 7 of whom are from the Central African Republic. Our approach is to strengthen the health system mainly using performance based financing as point of entry and in emergency situations seeking to move as quickly as possible from relief mode to development.
In the period 2013-2014, the healthcare program survived with only limited funding from the Dutch government and Cordaid’s own funds in a health program in Bouar, in an emergency project in Bangassou, in a pilot HIV and AIDS project in the city of Bangui and in the rehabilitation of a hospital in Mobay and the construction of two clinics. Subsequently UNICEF funded a WASH project and a PMTC project in Bouar.
Misereor funded an integrated program for rehabilitation which also covered health facilities. With co-funding from the EU, Cordaid supported a recovery program and technical assistance for the ecumenical pharmaceutical network organization ASSOMESCA. The Global Fund (with IRC as prime recipient) funded HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment.
At the time of writing (early 2017), Cordaid’s Health Program covers around 40% of the population in 5 of the country’s 7 health regions (RS):
- Jeune S3 (Santé, Sécurité, Sexualité) a SRH program in Bangui and RS 1 and 7
- DFID Mentor Consortium Emergency Healthcare in Alindao: 113092 and 113434 (RS6)
- CHF Emergency Healthcare Zangba Mingala 113242 (RS6)
- World Bank PASS in RS 2,3 and 6 112989, 113308, 113310 (RS2,3 and 6)
- EU Fonds Bêkou:113430 (RS6)
- Rehabilitation, repair and re-equipment and restocking of health facilities (Misereor) 113084
Education – Cordaid supports primary education in CAR since 2010. In 2013, the Cordaid country office in Bangui participated in the implementation of the Emergency Transition Plan (2014-2017) funded by the Global Partnership for Education (SME) through UNICEF (focus was on construction, rehabilitation of schools and sending teachers back to schools).
Following good results within the health sector, Cordaid introduced Result Based financing (RBF) to the education sector. This RBF for education program was gradually but steadily making progress. During the school year 2014-2015, Cordaid contracted 141 schools in four prefectures/departments (the Nana-Mambéré, Ombella-Mpoko, Lobaye, Ouham and Ouham-Pende), covering approximately 10% of the country’s schools. As a result of the program, access to education was established for approximate 60.000 underprivileged children (approximately 13% of the country’s children in primary school age).
To enhance institutional capacity, the education team also trained school directors and staff members (policy makers and school inspectors) of the Ministry of Education, including the in 2014 established ‘Cellule National RBF in education’. Cordaid subsequently managed to seize the momentum in June 2015: the newly appointed minister of Education declared RBF as a national education strategy.
Unfortunately, the education program came to a standstill in September 2015 when civil conflicts between Anti-Balaka and Séléka flared up. A potential resumption of the RBF education program later that year was hampered due to a forced closure of the Cordaid office in Bangui.
However, since September 2016, the education program is resumed, targeting approximately 121 schools (71 in Nana-Mambéré and 50 in Lobaye and Ombella-Mpoko) and granting access to quality education for 43.219 children aged 6-14 years. By application of RBF and in collaboration with the ‘Cellule National RBF in education’ the main barriers that are addressed in the project are the low level of motivation of teachers and substandard teaching skills due to a lack of training and coaching, economic hampering factors that prevent impoverished parents to send their children to school, and cultural customs and traditions like early marriage for girls which makes them dropout from school prematurely.