• Avoiding another crisis in the Central African Republic | Abdoulaye Mar Dieye

    22 Jan 2014

    Children collect water
    Akadus Zangoa, aged 10, carries a container of water to his mother, who sells manioc from a small stall to make enough money to feed her family. Without access to clean water the fear of an epidemic within the camp is heightened. Photo: UNHCR/S. Phelps

    First of all, I would like to draw attention to the tragedy unfolding in CAR. The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic has uprooted nearly one million people and it is estimated that 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.

    Now, a major food crisis is looming. According to the U.N., 94 percent of communities report that they do not have enough seeds to plant for the next agricultural season. There needs to be a strong and massive response from the international community.

    However, we must understand that the crisis has deep structural causes that are development-related.

    Extreme poverty, considerable inequalities, poor governance, weaknesses and failures of the political class triggered the crisis. While we invest in humanitarian action, we must also tackle the structural causes of that crisis as part of a wider effort aimed at putting the country back on a more robust development path. 

    When the violence subsides, attention must stay focused on rebuilding essential infrastructure such as water reservoirs, sewers, bridges and local clinics. To that end, public works projects can provide vital sources of revenue for women and men.

    Such initiatives can help restore trust and confidence among local communities across ethnic and religious divides, while involving them in the rehabilitation of local administrations.

    Addressing human rights and gender-based violence through dialogue and local reconciliation, as well as ensuring disputes are mediated and victims are supported through legal aid and physical protection, can go a long way toward preventing conflict.

    In the medium term, rebuilding the capacity of the State to deliver basic services to the population, and creating a functioning judiciary and security corps, including police and gendarmerie units that are able to prosecute crimes, are critical in the lead up to eventual elections in the country.

    Having worked with donors, national actors and international partners to create a roadmap for the transition, we will support the country’s stabilization through the phased implementation of community security, livelihoods, social cohesion, and reconciliation initiatives.

    Today, I want to call on all partners to not only address the humanitarian crisis but also look at crisis recovery in CAR. If we seize that opportunity, the country could be in a much stronger position to finally put its past behind. If we fail to do so, another crisis could soon happen again.


About the author
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Abdoulaye Mar Dieye is the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Programme

 

Follow him on Twitter: @MarDieye

Biography
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Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Director, UNDP Africa, on the crisis in the Central African Republic

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