Following a series of meetings with local government leaders, IOM yesterday (10/9) launched the European Union-funded Community Stabilization for At-Risk Communities project (SIRIRI) in Boda, Central African Republic (CAR).
Before the crisis, which began in 2013, the mixed population of an estimated 28,000 coexisted peacefully in the diamond and gold mining town. When violence erupted in Boda, 185 kilometres west of the capital Bangui, the ethnic and religious minority retreated to the safety of an enclave – effectively dividing the town in two. Today, community members living in the enclave still risk their lives if they leave the enclave, as armed group elements continue to operate in the region.
In other areas of the town, internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly non-Muslims, are still sheltering at various sites including St. Michel de Boda, a Catholic Church, which hosts 975 people. Since February 2014, IOM, with funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), has provided site facilitation in the ten displacement locations in Boda, informing the wider humanitarian community via IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of the needs of the IDPs.
In its first phase, the community stabilization project, which started in Bangui in March 2014, launched 37 infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation of schools, medical facilities, and social centres. These have contributed to a revitalization and stabilization of conflict-affected communities.
Over 17,400 people, including 44 per cent women, have participated in cash for work activities such as clearing canals and roads. In addition, 98,000 community members have benefited from socialization campaign activities including community theatre, dance workshops for children and radio shows.
The 18-month SIRIRI project, which builds on the success of the project’s first phase, has three components: revitalization of local markets, infrastructure rehabilitation and social cohesion activities. IOM hopes to contribute to Boda’s stabilization by revitalizing the local economy, increasing dialogue between the different communities and strengthening social cohesion.
“This EU-funded project will lift the town of Boda and surrounding communities out of socio-economic stagnation and create visible signs of normalisation,” said Torsten Haschenz, IOM Chief of Mission in CAR. “While we already see cautious signs of progress in the situation of IDPs almost two years after the recent conflict, the project will continue to promote mobility of hitherto enclaved populations and thereby enhance their long term prospects of remaining a vital part of the local community,” he added.
In the coming weeks, IOM will hold meetings with diverse community representatives and local government leaders in Boda, who will prioritize infrastructure projects. Potential projects include rehabilitating the local market, clearing out drainage canals, and improving roads.
The project contributes to the stability and early recovery of communities badly affected by violence. With continued EU support, the project is now also expanding beyond Boda, to Kaga Bandoro, Ndele and Bambari