Central African Republic: Work for peace project

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Thousands of youth in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, will be given jobs in a new donor-funded public works scheme. The project is designed to improve infrastructure and reduce the level of violence which has claimed hundreds of lives in recent months.

Eric Levron is the livelihood advisor at the UN Development Programme, or UNDP. UNDP is funding the four-year $31-million US scheme along with other donors.

Mr. Levron says: “It’s obvious that a large part of the reason for the crisis here is lack of jobs for young people. If there were more job opportunities, there would be fewer gangs and less crime in Bangui.”

Bangui has been the scene of unprecedented violence since December 2013. Muslims are being targeted by militias known as anti-balaka. The anti-balaka groups are being blamed for atrocities committed across the country since CAR fell into civil war after a coup led by Seleka militias.

Lucien Gon is a spokesperson for CAR’s public works agency, AGETIP. Mr. Gon says the project’s objective is to employ youth so they will stop looting and destroying property.

The scheme is slated to employ several thousand people. Private employers contracted by AGETIP must limit unskilled employees’ contracts to not more than 45 days, in order to maximize the number of people who can be employed unblocking drainage ditches and sewers, and improving roads.

Companies must also raise their rate of pay for unskilled employees.

Frederic Linardon is the country director for Agence d’Aide à la Coopération Technique et au Développement. The NGO has been supervising a public works project in Bangui. Mr. Linardon says that one month of work at the new pay rate would help many young people get back to working for themselves.

Mr. Linardon explains: “Our experience with a cash-for-work program showed that many young people can save enough money with a contract of just one month to re-launch the kind of activity they had before the crisis − as street vendors, for example.”

All the labour-intensive work is to take place in Bangui. But Mr. Gon says the work will be extended outside the capital when security conditions permit, initially in the southwest.

To read the article on which this story is based, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100041/work-for-peace-scheme-for-car