GENEVA, Switzerland, April 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The European Union (EU) has announced a 20 per cent increase in the budget of the IOM-implemented “Community Stabilization and Early Recovery for At-Risk Communities in Bangui” project, raising the total budget to EUR 4.8 million.
The 18-month project, which started in March 2014, has already helped 11,512 beneficiaries in the war torn city through cash for work initiatives, rehabilitated over 30 infrastructure projects and allowed over 111,000 people to participate in community-based recreational activities supporting social cohesion.
The project’s main objective is to encourage peaceful co-habitation and dialogue in mixed communities in Bangui. By providing opportunities to revitalize local markets and increase access to basic services based on consultative community processes, the project aims to engage “youth-at-risk” and other vulnerable community members in the community reconstruction process.
It works through local civil society organizations and local authorities to directly engage with the communities. One of its main achievements has been the engagement of community members from different neighborhoods in the same activities – notably through local clean up squads.
Aisha, 29, a resident of Quartier Senegalais in Bangui’s 3rd district, is one of the beneficiaries:
“Since the crisis in 2008 I have not crossed the canal to the Sara neighborhood, even though it is only 5 minutes away from my house. When the Anti-Balaka started attacking our neighborhood, I fled. My family and I spent nine months in the Central Mosque. We returned in June 2014,” she says.
“Our chef de quartier asked me to participate in the IOM programme and I was placed in a work team in Sara. I had to cross the canal. Together with another five participants from the Muslim neighborhoods we met to cross the bridge. We were very worried. EUFOR and IOM were there and waited for us.”
“When we crossed the bridge, we saw people from Sara and Yakite crossing over to our neighborhood to work there. We worked on both sides of the canal for 10 days. We cleared the debris and a lot of garbage. I used the money I made to buy some seeds and created a little garden on the banks of the canal looking at the Sara neighborhood.”
“One of the women I worked with, Francoise, lives just opposite of me on the other side. She also has a little garden. Last week she invited me for dinner. I went over with my kids. She will come visit me as well this coming week. I am not sure the peace will last, but for now it is great to have a little garden, I can sell the produce. And it is nice to have a new friend so close. Francoise will send her children to Koudoukou School, which is located in our neighborhood. I offered to accompany her to the school, so she would not be threatened by anyone,” she adds.
According to the project’s interim review, local authorities and community members perceive an increase of security of up to 50 per cent in the project implementation zone and more than 45 per cent of beneficiaries credit the project with having significantly contributed to the stability of the areas by providing alternative income generating opportunities to youth-at-risk and allowing community members to interact in activities designed by themselves.
“Collective positive experiences as implemented by IOM via engagement with civil society actors are one of the main factors encouraging people to return home from displacement sites,” says Mansour Mangui, Chef de Quartier in Fondo in the 3rd district.
The project will continue until August 2015 and reach a total of 19,000 beneficiaries through cash for work activities, rehabilitate a total of 42 infrastructure projects and engage over 130,000 people in the socialization campaign.
In order to capitalize on the achievements in Bangui’s most volatile districts, IOM is urgently appealing for additional funding in order to continue its efforts to provide alternative livelihoods to youth-at-risk and contribute to community-owned stabilization efforts.
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