The TDRP is financing an $8.6 million community reintegration project in the Central African Republic (CAR). The project will primarily target youth in Northern provinces.
The new operation financed by the TDRP in the Central African Republic is not a typical demobilization and reintegration (D&R) program. The project is innovative in several ways: it focuses on communities rather than individual ex-combatants; it is implemented by international NGOs rather than through a government entity; and it will expand community support already provided rather than create new activities and structures.
R before DD
In the CAR, disarmament and demobilization has been an ongoing challenge and it is not clear when these processes will start. In this environment, carrying out reintegration activities may seem counterintuitive. However, the benefits from reintegration support may offer an added incentive for self demobilization.
"There is still a lot of tension and insecurity in the north, and the communities are very poor", says Bernard Harborne, Task Team Leader for the project at the World Bank. "If we can support these communities to develop basic infrastructure and stable means of subsistence, we will increase the appeal for rebels and bandits to lay down their arms."
Community-based reintegration vs. individual benefits
Under the Multi-country Demobilization and Reintegration Program (MDRP), which supported a D&R operation in CAR from 2004 to 2007, classic DDR programs provided individual benefits to ex-combatants after their demobilization. In these programs, each ex-combatant would be identified and registered in a database; the ex-combatant would then receive a cash payment, usually in several installments, to cover basic needs after leaving the demobilization camp.
Under the new project, whole communities are targeted across three prefectures (provinces) in the north of the country, rather than individuals.
"We have chosen these areas based on the high proportion of ex-combatants among the population", explains Harborne. "In particular, we designed our intervention to benefit young people between 18 and 35 years old, especially those at risk of violence, but through a community approach instead of individualized support".
This approach spreads the benefits of the project to all members of the community and not simply ex-combatants, a good way to promote social reintegration as well.
Implementation by International NGOs
There are large areas in the CAR with limited or no government presence. In the three prefectures of Ouham, Ouham-Pende and Nana-Gribizi where the project will be implemented, four international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whom the Bank has selected as the project's Implementation Agencies already have programs: the International Rescue Committee, ACTED, Première Urgence and Solidarités.
The community reintegration project will increase the financial resources of these four NGOs and allow them to expand their ongoing activities, as well as develop new ones.
Leland Montell, Director of the International Rescue Committee in the CAR, notes: "The IRC has been active in these zones since early 2007, and over time we've expanded our operations and our staff. The grant from the TDRP will enable us to continue to serve these communities but on a larger scale, which is very much needed".
A large part of the support to communities will go to agricultural production. This may take the form of inputs (tools, seeds, fertilizers), training, or assistance to associations of producers.
"One of our past activities that proved very successful was to take several groups of producers to an agricultural fair in a nearby town. The farmers were able to sell their produce and make a good profit. They were really happy and their results encouraged the entire community. We intend to expand on this type of service under the community reintegration project", adds Montell.
Support to small business will also be emphasized under the new project. For example this could mean purchasing a grinding machine for a small peanut processing plant. Montell notes that the IRC "will provide this support under a cost-recovery scheme, with the proceeds of the plant benefiting a cooperative". Again, the emphasis is on the community.
The NGOs use a participatory process to identify and select their interventions. To ensure that the new market or the new health post continues to be maintained after the project has ended, the IRC often sets up local steering committees, made up of local officials, community leaders, and representatives from women's associations.
The four Implementation Agencies will meet among themselves and with the CAR authorities on a regular basis to exchange information and assess progress.
CAR - Community Reintegration Project
Financing: $8.6 million grant from TDRP
Objective: To improve access to basic social infrastructure and economic opportunities for local communities, with a focus on youth and youth associated with armed violence Implementing partners:
- ACTED in Ouham-Pende
- International Rescue Committee in Ouham-Pende and Nana-Gribizi
- Première Urgence in Ouham-Pende
- Solidarités in Ouham