GENEVA, Switzerland, May 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Community leaders from Bangui’s 3rd arrondissement met this weekend to identify and prioritize infrastructure projects to revitalize their district. Much of the community’s public infrastructure was destroyed or abandoned when the civil war broke out in the Central African Republic (CAR) in December 2013.
This was the first of several community meetings that will take place as part of an 18-month project funded by the European Union: “Community Stabilization and Retention of Mixed Communities.” The initiative aims to support mixed communities in Bangui and increase social cohesion and dialogue by facilitating the rehabilitation of community infrastructure.
The mayor of the 3rd arrondissement chaired the meeting, which was facilitated by IOM staff. A total of 62 representatives took part, including representatives from women’s associations, youth organizations, displaced people, religious communities and local committees from the arrondissement’s 29 neighbourhoods. Participants discussed and identified 22 urgent socio-economic infrastructure needs and voted to select six priority projects that correspond to the needs of the entire community.
Work will soon begin on the following infrastructure priorities: rehabilitation of a maternity clinic and the mayor’s office conference hall; installation of street lights and public garbage bins on the main thoroughfares; and repair of bridges. IOM will look at the feasibility of the proposed projects in coordination with the humanitarian clusters, local authorities and relevant ministries.
The “Community Stabilization and Retention of Mixed Communities,” project will target the whole of Bangui, but is focused on the 3rd and 5th arrondissements, which are mixed communities in terms of ethnic, religious and economic diversity. The project will involve some 10,000 beneficiaries and aims to support the most vulnerable people in the community.
Civil society organizations and local leaders, in coordination with IOM, will provide lists of community members who would like to participate.
The project officially began in April and already has over 400 direct beneficiaries. These are locally hired community members who work in mixed Christian and Muslim teams of up to 50 people to improve their neighbourhoods and clean the streets.
The street cleaning program was expanded on Monday to employ a total of 300 youths in the 3rd and 5th arrondissements. They carry out rehabilitation of markets, gutters and drains, and provide waste management support to sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the 3rd arrondissement. Community members and local merchants are appreciative of the clean streets and frequently cheer on the youths while they work.
Many participants in the street cleaning program were themselves displaced from their homes in December when conflict intensified in Bangui and continue to live in IDP sites. More than 135,000 people are displaced in Bangui, and over 560,000 nationwide.