World Bank Brings Public Works Jobs to Rural Families in Central African Republic

July 30, 2015

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2015— The World Bank has mobilized a total of US$20 million from the International Development Association (IDA)* to support the Central African Republic (CAR) government to develop jobs through road maintenance works in this fragile, war-torn country. The project will benefit 35,500 men and women living in rural districts throughout the nation by providing families with income, improving transportation opportunities and boosting access to markets and basic social services.   

The IDA grant supports the LONDO project (or ‘Stand-Up’ in Sango, the official language in CAR) that will provide temporary employment to vulnerable people throughout the entire country, with the exception of Bangui, the nation’s capital city. Designed to support social and economic recovery as well as facilitating peacebuilding, the project will pay stipends to 35,500 men and women for 40 working days each. The LONDO project benefits from the experience of the Labor Intensive Public Works program in Bangui, as well as the lessons learned from other cash-for-work programs in fragile and conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“There is currently a rare window of opportunity open for stabilization and recovery in CAR, with the deployment of the United Nations peacekeeping mission since September 2014 and a strong call from the Government and the CAR population for the World Bank to sustain its engagement by providing additional economic opportunities to vulnerable people,” says Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Manager for the Central African Republic. “A short-term employment program such as the one supported by today’s project that provides a productive role and occupation to vulnerable people can help to restore confidence between the state and citizens, while the injection of this money into CAR’s stalled economy will help to reduce the nation’s high unemployment and lessen the chronic poverty of millions of rural families.”

With about a quarter of its population displaced and over half in need of humanitarian assistance the CAR is currently home to one of Africa’s most serious crises. The recent unrest has significantly weakened government institutions leaving CAR’s roughly 4.5 million citizens with limited or no access to basic services, a loss of outside investment and dramatic violence.

A unique delivery framework has been developed for the project under which AGETIP-CAF (Agence d'Exécution des Travaux d'Intérêt Public en Centrafrique), a national and public agency, will execute the road works rather than procuring them to third parties. With AGETIP-CAF’s leadership, 71 local reconstruction teams of 500 workers will be set up to upgrade and maintain about 10,000 kilometers of national and rural roads which are in poor repair. The successful operation of AGETIP-CAF’s regional offices may help to attract additional financing in the rural provinces.

LONDO will help establish a community maintenance system (cantonnage communal) to support the sustainability of both jobs and improved roads. Local authorities will receive tools, equipment and technical assistance.  Workers will receive bicycles for transportation to and from work sites and may also benefit, during working hours, from short trainings and consultation on topics such as HIV/AIDS, when locally available, to help improve socio-economic integration.

“By focusing on tangible outputs such as stipend payments and improved rural roads with LONDO’s Labor Intensive Public Works approach, the project will go beyond infrastructure-building and will  promote collective decision-making, collaborative behaviors, and community ownership,” says Paul Bance  World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project. “LONDO will also lay the ground for more development projects to follow in areas of CAR that have been underserved in the past.”

LONDO benefits from strong collaboration between the Bank and several other international partners, including the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) and the Agence française de dévelopment.

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people, the majority of whom live on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

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