In the Central African Republic, where years of prolonged violence and conflict have ravaged the country’s health care system, an innovative approach is saving lives and putting people to work. As the global COVID-19 pandemic bore down on the country, the government made the difficult decision to mandate the use of facial masks. Like many countries, however, they were faced with a dearth of masks in local and international markets. The IDA supported LONDO project was able to quickly rise to the challenge, locally producing more than 2.4 million masks in record time.
The LONDO project is the largest cash-for-work program in the country, supporting stabilization and social cohesion in a war-torn country through temporary employment. Usually, it carries out small infrastructure works and road maintenance, which are critical in a country where young people are particularly vulnerable to recruitment into armed groups and violence. As the COVID-19 crisis shakes the country’s economy and fragile stability, potentially pushing more than 140,000 people into extreme poverty, according to recent World Bank estimates, the project’s ability to rapidly adapt to meet the critical need of the moment is even more important.