Human story: Boosting economic recovery to support displaced people in the Central African Republic

Over the past two years, the Central African Republic has undergone a major political and humanitarian crisis. Outbreaks of violence that hit Bangui from December 2013 to September 2015 have caused important population displacements, due to the destruction or the pillage of thousands of houses and facilities. In the most crisis-affected neighborhoods of Bangui, ACTED supports the return of displaced people and the economic recovery through “labour-intensive public utility work”*.

Claude is a 52-years-old butcher from Sarah-Dah, third district of Bangui, one of the most affected by the crisis. Following the destruction of his house in December 2013, he had to settle in a camp for displaced people with his mother, his wife and their 8-month old daughter.

His kiosk and butcher equipment have also been destroyed during the violence outbreaks at the end of 2013. Suffering from a gunshot wound, he was not able to work during the months following the crisis. He also had to abandon his business because he lacked resources. Today, he punctually performs small jobs in private concessions, but it is not enough to support his family.

In February 2016, Claude participated in weeding works implemented by ACTED in the particularly hard hit neighborhoods. Those weeding activities, along with other rehabilitation works (cleaning, backfill, digging…), are part of the Economic and Social Reconstruction Program in Urban Areas (PRESU), funded by the Bêkou Funds, and with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD). Those “labour-intensive public utility work” implemented by ACTED pursue several objectives: offer an immediate job to displaced and vulnerable people, give an occupation to youth at risk and invest money in the neighborhoods to support the return of the populations.

Thanks to the 10-days weeding activity carried out with ACTED, Claude made 25,000 CFA francs, the equivalent of USD 41. He plans to use a part of it to buy first necessity goods and food for his family. He wants to save the rest in order to rehabilitate his house, very damaged by the fighting. His main goal is to settle his family back. Claude goes back regularly to clean the house and spend the night. “I don’t want to go away, I will always come back here. It is the house of the ancestors. I will never leave my house. Ever.”

Claude is very happy with the works implemented with ACTED. He thinks they are important to support populations willing to return in the neighborhood they once had to flee. He also sees it as an opportunity to renew the social links: “We worked together as a family, we were all working and laughing. In the society, it is very important because it creates social cohesion.”

*The expression “labour-intensive public utility work”, used by the International Labour Organization (ILO), describes the optimal workforce utilization to minimize poverty, while considering carefully the issues of cost and quality. In general, it is to find a balance between proper use of workforce, materials and equipment (hardware) to produce a profitable product and of satisfactory quality.