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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.