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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid