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Isolated communities in CAR on the road to economic activity thanks to HI

Inclusion
Central African Republic

In Central African Republic, Humanity & Inclusion is working alongside vulnerable and isolated communities to improve the state of the roads so that aid can get through to them and they can move freely again.

Civil engineering teams working to rehabilitate roads damaged and gouged by weather and time.

January 2024, Basse-Kotto sub-prefecture. Rehabilitation work on the Alindao-Kongbo and Alindao-Tambia sections of Route Nationale 2 | © T. Fulcrand / HI

Problems with access is one of the main reasons humanitarian aid is suspended: 47% of humanitarian organisations implementing rapid response activities reported having to interrupt their operations at least 34 times during 2022 because of the state of the roads. 
Lucienne Yirikpanga is the mayor of her village and for the past few months, she has been working alongside Humanity & Inclusion (HI) on a project to rehabilitate the road infrastructure in the south of Central African Republic (CAR). She tells us how this project is gradually bringing life back to her community.

Ending the population’s isolation

Since 2013, Central African Republic has been experiencing an unprecedented crisis. Humanitarian needs are huge throughout the country, but with only 2.5% of roads paved and road infrastructure either lacking or in a state of disrepair, vulnerable communities are increasingly isolated, and humanitarian aid cannot reach them. 

Guaranteeing road access to these populations is therefore essential. Since July 2023, HI, via its Atlas Logistique division, has been working on Route Nationale 2 in order to open up the southeast of CAR, made up of four sub-prefectures: Mbomou, Haut-Mbomou, Ouaka and Basse-Kotto. These sub-prefectures, home to some of the most isolated communities in the country, are only accessible by this national road, which is in a very poor state of repair. Lucienne Yirikpanga, mayor of Bangui-Ketté commune in Basse-Kotto, describes the impact that the lack of road infrastructure has on life in her village:

"Increases in the price of basic necessities and difficulties in obtaining them make day-to-day life very hard. We also find it very difficult to access health services when we have an emergency. And it’s not just the adults who feel the consequences, children are also impacted: they can’t get to school or they arrive very late, which isn't good for them either."

So what is Atlas’s objective? To open up these areas by restoring roads and bridges, damaged by erosion, flooding and a lack of maintenance.

Working with the communities to bring life back to the villages

Since becoming mayor of her village two years ago, Lucienne has been acting as a mediator between the members of her community and the organisations operating in the region to ensure that activities run smoothly and efficiently. She has been in contact with HI/Atlas Logistique from the very start to make sure she understands the project and can help the team ensure its success.

"This road rehabilitation project is a great relief for our community, as it will enable us to move around freely, without obstacles. My role is also to help HI adopt a community-based approach so that we can tackle the challenges together," says Lucienne.

She tells us that the project has been very well received by the local people, who are impatient for the road rehabilitation work to be completed. The local economy has already been boosted thanks to the labour intensive approach used by Atlas in the rehabilitation work. No mechanical equipment is available in these areas and bringing it in would be very complicated. Although the tensions and violence have subsided, Lucienne says that past events have left deep scars and finding work is still a complex task... Most of the time, people sell rattan items they have woven, run small businesses or cultivate the fields. Today, life is gradually returning to normal in the community, with everyone doing whatever they can to take care of their families:

"I can only say thank you: our community has never benefited from a project like this... I hope the work goes well, and I'm thinking of the other communities in need that will also benefit from this aid. It's a blessing to have it, I don't know how I can thank HI", concludes Lucienne.

This civil engineering project is being deployed in the Central African Republic in the prefectures of Ouaka, Basse-Kotto, Mbomou and Haut-Mbomou. It began on 1 July 2023 and will end on 30 September 2024. It is financed by USAID/BHA and aims to improve the practicability of 80km of road by rehabilitating the most critical points. HI estimates that this project will help around 400,000 people living in the intervention zone and 20 humanitarian organisations active in the region.

 

Date published: 13/05/24

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