News / Africa

Bangui Work Program Targets Potential Troublemakers

Muslims with their belongings are seen before they are escorted by French peacekeepers from their homes in Bangui, Central African Republic, April 27, 2014
Muslims with their belongings are seen before they are escorted by French peacekeepers from their homes in Bangui, Central African Republic, April 27, 2014
Nick Long
Aid donors have come up with a plan to put young people back to work in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui - at least for a few weeks.  C.A.R. authorities say they hope this will keep restive youths out of trouble and enable them to restart their own businesses.  

This week donors announced plans to spend around $31 million on public works programs that would rapidly rotate job opportunities among Bangui’s unemployed.

The private companies bidding to work on these projects will have to meet some unusual conditions: They will have to pay their unskilled employees about twice as much as usual - $6 a day instead of $3 - and they will have to limit each unskilled worker’s contract to just 45 days.

Eric Levron of the United Nations development agency (UNDP) said in a VOA interview that the idea is to increase employee turnover, to give more people a share of the work and income.   

"This high turnover condition is new in the sense that donors - in this case, the French Development Agency [AFD], the World Bank, the European Union and UNDP - have not previously insisted on such conditions in dealing with the private sector," said Levron.

At a meeting this week between donors and the government, a spokesman for the C.A.R.’s public works agency, Diogene Gon, made no secret of the fact that they are hoping such public works programs will keep potential troublemakers out of mischief.

"The objective is to put a lot of young people to work, so they will be tired and sleep well at night and not do 'stupid things,'"said Gon.

Since last December, when violence escalated between the anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka militias, thousands of homes and shops in Bangui have been looted, many have been destroyed by mobs, more than a thousand inhabitants have been killed and most of the Muslim population has fled.

The $31 million from international donors over the next four years will support program to dig drainage ditches, unblock sewers and repair roads.  This is only part of the aid these donors will spending on Bangui’s infrastructure by 2017, but other improvements will not focus on jobs programs.

A few hundred people work on those kinds of projects in Bangui at the moment.  In the next few weeks their number will rise to several thousand.

One ditch-digger who is on the job already is Cedric Onduluka.  He took a break to talk to VOA this morning.

"It’s good news that there will be more of this kind of work. This will be a great relief to young people.  When they have work they won’t be tempted to break into people’s houses and loot and steal," said Onduluka.

The French development agency says no target number has been set for the manual-labor team.  They could employ a large part of Bangui’s population - estimated to be close to one million, depending on how frequently the work is rotated among the same people.

Most contracts are likely to last about a month.  One aid organization that has been running labor-intensive or so-called "cash for work" programs in Bangui is the French technical agency ACTED.  Its boss in Bangui is Frederic Linardon.  

'In my experience, many young people in Bangui who work for $5 or $6 a day can save enough money in a month to relaunch the kind of activity they had before the crisis - as street vendors, for example," said Linardon.

So far all the "cash-for-work" jobs will be in Bangui, but the C.A.R. public works agency says future programs will extend outside the capital, at first in southwestern parts of the country, when security conditions permit.

C.A.R. governments have traditionally focused resources on the capital to the exclusion of the rest of the country, and aid agencies and international NGOs currently have most of their key staff in the capital - factors that could also weight development spending towards Bangui.

"Too much of the aid the Central African Republic receives does not reach outside Bangui.  Too much of everything is concentrated on the capital," he said.

The French development agency’s manager in Bangui, Julian Boglietto, says that he is looking to set up some pilot projects offering cash for work in agriculture, which he says might show other donors what is possible.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More