The election of President Faustin Archange Touadéra in February 2016, and of the National Assembly, reinstituted constitutional order in the Central African Republic (CAR) after nearly three years of political transition. The return to constitutional order and stability is supported by the international community, and facilitated by the deployment of the 12,000-person United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Together, these factors have created high hopes that the country will at long last break free from the cycle of fragility and crisis it has experienced since independence.
Challenges are significant and urgent as the CAR prepares to tackle the results of more than two years of armed confrontation and decades of poor governance and underdevelopment. Armed groups took control of a vast majority of the territory, with unprecedented levels of looting, pillaging, and acts of retaliation and abuse. Insecurity led to the forced displacement of approximately one-third of the CAR population. The crisis also devastated the country’s economy, and the main productive sectors—agriculture, the extractive industries, and forestry— collapsed. Armed groups took control of mining sites, and growing resource trafficking and corruption financed warlords and fueled instability, all of which further weakened the state’s ability to respond to the urgent needs of its population. Vulnerable groups were particularly hard hit.
The CAR government in May 2016 requested support from the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank Group to prepare a Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA).1 The assessment identified priorities for the first five years of the post-election period, with three specific objectives in mind: (1) support the CAR government in identifying recovery and peacebuilding needs and priorities and associated financial costs; (2) identify specific operational, institutional, and financial arrangements to facilitate the implementation of identified priorities, given capacity and security constraints; and (3) create a platform to monitor implementation progress, notably on major reform commitments, and ensure consistency and coordination across development, humanitarian, political, and security engagements.
The resulting report was approved by the government in October 2016 and adopted as the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan (RCPCA). It will be presented and discussed during the international donor conference in Brussels on November 17, 2016.
Several structural causes of the crisis need to be addressed for the CAR to move forward on a path toward sustainable peace and recovery. Scarce resources and political power have been concentrated in the hands of the elite, and imbalances between Bangui and the rest of the country—as well as the marginalization of certain extremely poor regions, notably in the northeast—have bred frustration and tension. The cyclical nature of the conflict has been exacerbated by the weakness of national institutions, which found it difficult to maintain social and national cohesion; as well as by the absence of prosecution for human rights violations. Consequently, “victors’ justice” has become the norm, creating an environment of widespread impunity. Moreover, regional instability, weapon trafficking, and illegal trade of diamonds and gold maintain insecurity in the country.
In response to these challenges, the government proposes a five-year recovery and peacebuilding plan. It is articulated around 3 priority pillars and 11 strategic objectives (table 0.1).
Total needs have been estimated at $3.161 billion. The five-year plan relies on the progressive increase of interventions, along with improvement of the security situation, the gradual redeployment of public administration throughout the country, and the availability of the necessary capacity to implement the plan. A set of strategic activities and results are laid out for each pillar (table 0.1). Six cross-cutting objectives have also been integrated throughout the document, focused on promoting regional equity, gender equality, and transparency and accountability at all levels; national capacities (in government, public administration, and civil society); youth inclusion; and environmental sustainability. The RCPCA should be accompanied by a Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for the period 2017–19, which will focus on live-saving interventions, severe malnutrition, protection against violence, and provision of basic services in unstable or inaccessible areas. Close coordination has been sought with humanitarian actors during the assessment period to ensure that the activities led under the HRP and RCPCA are complementary, and to enable the progressive transfer of responsibilities to national authorities in charge of providing security and basic services.
Prioritization and sequencing have been introduced in the plan across sectors and geographical areas, based on discussions with the government, consultations conducted in all regions, and the findings of a household survey covering 1,790 households across all communes and arrondissements. The results of these consultations and surveys are presented in an annex to the main document. Prioritization has been further refined through political discussions, notably with the National Assembly.
The first pillar aims to support peace, security, and reconciliation as essential underpinnings to recovery and normalization. It covers four strategic objectives at a total estimated cost of $461 million. Short-term priorities include, notably, the adoption of a national disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation (DDRR) strategy, which aims to disarm and demobilize former combatants that meet the agreed-upon criteria and to repatriate foreign combatants. The government will also finalize and adopt the political and strategic framework for reform of the security sector. Mobile court hearings will be established to spread the reach of the judiciary across the entire territory, and the penitentiary system will be demilitarized. A Special Criminal Court will be operationalized and a National Human Rights Commission will be established. A network of peace and reconciliation committees will be created at the local, regional, and national levels, and a Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Reconciliation Commission will be operationalized. A national strategy for the return of displaced populations will be designed and adopted. In the medium term, activities for the reinsertion and socioeconomic reintegration of former combatants will commence. Reforms will be adopted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the defense and security forces, focusing in particular on improving human resource management, providing training and capacity building, and rehabilitating key infrastructure. An in-depth reform of the justice sector will be implemented, which will notably help ensure its independence and impartiality, and complement support to the resumption of an effective justice system. Implementation of the existing reconciliation strategy will also continue.
The second pillar aims to renew the social contract between the state and the population by building state presence and capacity to provide basic social services such as education, health, and water and sanitation. It covers four strategic objectives, with a total cost of $1.326 billion. Short-term priorities include, for instance, supporting the progressive redeployment of civil servants and state employees. A decentralization policy, including local elections for the establishment of local authorities, will be implemented, as well as a local reconciliation and social cohesion policy. Representative and accountable political governance will be promoted through the creation and strengthening of democratic institutions (including the National Assembly) in line with the CAR constitution as well as through supporting national planning processes. National policies and institutional frameworks for basic service delivery will be revised, with a particular focus on education, health and nutrition, water, sanitation, and social protection. Activities aimed at improving access to and the quality of basic services will also be implemented. This will include the construction and rehabilitation of administrative offices, health care services, water and sanitation infrastructure, and schools and training centers. Training and recruitment programs for teachers and health care workers will be launched. Agricultural productive capacities and livelihoods of the most vulnerable households will be gradually restored, notably through recapitalization efforts aimed at small farmers and herders. Revenue generation programs will also be introduced, targeting women and youth in particular. Community financing will help promote savings mobilization and a credit culture, while strengthening social cohesion. The introduction of integrated transhumance management structures will help reduce conflicts between farmers and herders. In addition, to increase revenues and support increased service delivery, public financial management reforms and capacity building will continue. In the medium term, quality control mechanisms will be introduced to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of state policies at the local level.
The third pillar aims to promote economic recovery and boost productive sectors to rapidly provide the population with income-generating activities and employment opportunities in core productive sectors, and to improve the business and investment environment more broadly. It covers three strategic objectives at a total cost of $1.224 billion. Activities will support the relaunch of the agriculture, forestry, and extractive industries sectors. The transition from subsistence farming to a more productive food-related production system will be encouraged, as well as the diversification of commercial agricultural production. This will be achieved by improving access to inputs, services, and information. Agro-ecological potentials will be mapped out, and associated market studies will identify the cash crops and value chains holding the greatest potential for job creation and increased revenue. Bottlenecks to commercial farming and agribusiness will be progressively tackled, and research entities will be rehabilitated and their activities resumed. The government will also aim to increase added value and job creation in the forestry sector, while taking into account the need to sustainably exploit resources. Measures will be adopted to improve the investment climate for the extractive industries sector and to incentivize investments. This will help increase revenues by reducing informal activities and improving sector management. To further unlock the country’s economic potential, the government will undertake investments in key transport, electricity, and communication infrastructure. Business creation will be facilitated, the cost of doing business will be reduced, the public-private dialogue will be strengthened, and legal security will be improved. Technical and vocational training will be enhanced and entrepreneurship supported to ensure a smooth transition to the labor market, in order to maximize the use of available human capital to underpin private sector growth.
Addressing the priorities identified will require strong commitment and leadership by the CAR government, as well as effective support from the international community and civil society. To this end, a new partnership will be needed, based on a limited set of agreedupon milestones and commitments that can help focus attention on the critical priorities for the CAR’s successful recovery during RCPCA implementation. Many of the reform areas for which commitments could be drawn are already identified and prioritized in the RCPCA. These include, from Pillar 1, critical reforms to develop and implement strategies for DDRR and security system reform and to promote political inclusion, broader reconciliation, and respect for rule of law; from Pillar 2, reforms to help the state return and establish a legitimate presence across the country, improve the macroeconomic framework, and build core government functions and fiduciary capacities and anti-corruption measures; and, from Pillar 3, measures to facilitate rapid improvement of the business environment and to improve natural resource management, including of minerals and timber.
To discuss these priorities, including their political and security aspects, the government has undertaken, in partnership with the international community, to establish a CAR Mutual Commitment Framework (Cadre d’Engagement Mutuel—CEM-RCA).2 It will include the commitments of international partners in accordance with the principles of aid effectiveness as set out in the New Deal and so will ensure their cohesion.3 It will also strengthen the dialogue on transparency and accountability. Given the low levels of domestic resource mobilization in spite of efforts made to increase domestic resources, international financial support will be absolutely critical for RCPCA implementation.
Needs totaling $3.161 billion have been identified, of which $1.684 billion will be required for the first three years. The international community should make a concerted effort to provide predictable and coherent aid over the coming years to avoid the experiences of other post-conflict countries, which have seen a massive hike in aid flows followed by a rapid decrease a few years later. To this end, the appropriate combination of financing modalities and instruments need to be adopted in order to deliver rapidly on specific priorities. At the same time, strengthening absorptive and implementation capacities will be essential. Given the limited donor presence on the ground, and the significant risks related to the context and limited capacity for implementation, creation of a common financing platform that can allow grant financing to be closely aligned to the needs identified in the RCPCA should be explored. Grant financing would be pooled in a number of existing or planned multipartner trust funds.
This pooling will enable prioritization of the objectives associated with the recovery and peacebuilding process, support more coherent efforts to build capacities and institutions, and allow technical and financial partners to cofinance scale-up of investment projects.
The RCPCA proposes the establishment of an operational structure for coordination, monitoring, and implementation. This structure will ensure the implementation of the RCPCA, and allow alignment of funding with key priorities, mobilization of resources to respond to critical gaps, and clarity on the appropriateness of different instruments. It will also guide the elaboration and implementation of a communications strategy. The imperative for quick results will have to be balanced with the long-term objective of building institutional capacity. An accompanying monitoring framework is also proposed. This framework will include a combination of data and perception indicators and provide a snapshot of progress and obstacles to inform decision making and communicate results to the population.