Central African Republic ConflictSince 1960, when the Central African Republic gained its independence from France, different armed conflicts have emerged in the country, principally fights for political power. However, in this decade, a confrontation between two different religious groups and the government has led to an environment of constant violence, forcing many people to leave their homes. These are 10 key facts about the Central Africa Republic conflict that you need to know.

  1. The Central African Republic conflict began in 2012 when the Seleka, a Muslim rebel coalition, attacked different cities in the country in order to overthrow the regime of President Francoise Bozizé.
  2. The main opposition group to the Seleka is the coalition known as Anti-Balaka, formed principally by Christian fighters.
  3. In 2014, Seleka rebels and Anti-Balaka forces agreed to a tentative ceasefire agreement.
  4. The Central African Republic conflict started again in 2015 when the government rejected the agreement by Seleka and Anti-Balaka forces.
  5. The Central African Republic conflict has displaced 466,000 people, who are now refugees in other countries.
  6. Since 2013, when the conflict started, more than 935,000 people have been internally displaced and about 60 percent of them are children.
  7. It is estimated that 3,000 to 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
  8. According to the U.N., nearly 2.5 million people are facing hunger in the country.
  9. Reports by human rights groups and the United Nations suggest crimes have been committed by both Seleka and Anti-Balaka.
  10. Different allegations of sexual abuse have been made by the United Nations, making the conflict worse inside the country.

Several organizations, principally the United Nations, are working in the country in order to end the conflict. However, the conflict is still ongoing, creating a wave of violence that has resulted in thousands of refugees, deaths and political uncertainty.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Congressman Urges More Aid to the Central African RepublicRep. David Cicilline (D–R.I.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said critical aid to the Central African Republic (CAR) was necessary after visiting the country with a congressional delegation in August. He stated that the international community “has to think about the long-term implications of abandoning our efforts to stabilize this country.”

Cicilline specifically criticized the 2017 withdrawal of U.S. special operation forces in the African country. Since the withdrawal, members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel faction in CAR, have continued to attack civilians, particularly in the country’s southeast region.

Since its independence from France in 1960, CAR has experienced near-constant sectarian violence and political instability, usually caused by religious or ethnic conflicts. Its economy, infrastructure and development have suffered as a result.

The Central African Republic ranks last on the U.N. Human Development Index. More than 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, and only 36.8 percent are literate. Preventable diseases, such as malaria and malnutrition, have contributed to an average life expectancy of 52.3 years.

According to Oxfam, 60 percent of CAR is controlled by rebel groups. In fact, the U.S. suspended embassy operations in CAR from December 2012 to September 2014 due to violence spurred by civil war. This violence also has displaced 600,000 people.

The U.S. has historically provided aid to the Central African Republic. In the past two years, the U.S. spent more than $500 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance to CAR. The U.S. also supported U.N. peace operations in CAR, which sent more than 10,000 peacekeepers to the embattled country.

However, the U.S. recently decreased aid to the Central African Republic. For FY 2017, the U.S. sent $48.6 million in aid to CAR, compared to $64.7 million in FY 2016. USAID also stated their purpose in CAR is to primarily respond to humanitarian crises as opposed to supporting long-term development.

The U.N. mission mandate in CAR ends in November. At that time, the U.N. Security Council can send additional peacekeeping support to the country.

CAR remains a complicated geopolitical issue. Nonetheless, the international community remains committed to providing aid to the Central African Republic to promote stability and development and empower its population to rise out of poverty.

Sean Newhouse

Central African Republic Poverty RateThe Central African Republic is among the poorest countries in the world. In 2017, the country had the lowest reported GDP per capita, at $656, and the average person lives on less than $1.80 per day. The Central African Republic’s poverty rate is among the highest in the world, with 62 percent of citizens living on less than $1.90 per day when the data was last taken.

The incredible poverty rate is due to a variety of factors, perhaps none more important than the Central African Republic’s history as part of the French Empire. As a country rich in natural resources that have been in demand throughout history, the Central African Republic has been exploited by western nations from the beginning of the Age of Imperialism to the modern day.

Internal conflict has worsened the problems originally begun by western imperialism. Since the Central African Republic gained independence in 1960, the major Christian and Muslim factions in the country have rarely ceased in-fighting. Alongside religious rivalries, multiple ethnic groups and political ideologies have contributed to widespread violence and instability throughout the country.

Longstanding political instability has led to a severe lack of development, one of the greatest reasons behind the abysmal Central African Republic’s poverty rate. Widespread poverty has allowed the country to wallow in incredibly low rates of development for years, ranking 179th out of 187 countries.

In a population of just over four million people, nearly 370,000 children will grow up without one or both of their parents, and more than 50 percent of the population can neither read nor write. Almost five percent of the population carries HIV/AIDS, one of the highest rates in the world.

Numerous groups worldwide are providing necessary aid to the Central African Republic, but many focus on providing emergency relief. While any and all aid is needed throughout the country, short-term solutions do little to assuage the Central African Republic’s poverty rate. In order to provide a long-term solution to poverty, the International Rescue Committee is, alongside emergency aid and health services, creating programs that help both men and women receive education and set up businesses. This program will allow Central Africans take the first steps out of poverty themselves.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in the Central African Republic

Approximately 663 million people live without access to clean water. Many nongovernment organizations (NGOs) are dedicated to improving water quality and building wells in poverty-stricken areas. However, the ad hoc building of wells does not solve the problem of water poverty and sanitation. Wells can and do break down and someone must fix them, but at this point, most water charities have left the community a long time ago. The key to ending water poverty, which will in turn bring more people out of extreme poverty, is water sustainability. This is where Water for Good – an organization working in the Central African Republic (CAR) – comes in.

A Plan for Water Sustainability

Founded in 2004, Water for Good works to bring water sustainability and improve water quality in the CAR. It is now the largest water provider in the country. Water for Good has drilled over 650 new water wells in the CAR and each well provides enough water for 500 people. The organization also maintains over 1000 water wells across the country and has rehabilitated more than 900 old and forgotten wells. While wells can last over a decade with routine maintenance, they will eventually need a major overhaul.

Water for Good plans to bring clean, safe water to every person in the CAR  by 2030. This is in step with the U.N.’s timeline for achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals. The nation has a population of only 4.7 million people; however, with a large geographic size and a history of internal conflict, improving water quality in the CAR is a difficult task. Water for Good plans to partner with the U.N. and other charitable organizations to achieve this goal.

Local Companies

Doctor Richard Klopp – CEO of Water for Good – tells The Borgen Project that an important step toward water sustainability is transitioning the duties of maintenance and upkeep to private companies within the CAR. Water for Good currently has four maintenance crews that each take care of about 260 wells. The goal is to hand off all of those responsibilities to private, locally-owned companies. In fact, it has already started to happen.

Water for Good created a locally-owned company, Marcellin African Drilling (MAD), and then handed off all the operations to the owner, Marcellin Namsene. While MAD still partners with Water for Good on projects, it is a private, locally-owned business that can continue to upkeep the wells when Water for Good’s work is finished.

A Strategic Focus

Water for Good was originally founded by a former missionary named Jim Hocking, when a good friend sold him a well-drilling business if he agreed to run it as a nonprofit. Hocking had no experience with water wells or drilling, but was familiar with the issue of water quality in the CAR, having grown up in the country. Originally, the organization was named Integrated Community Development International and had several other aims besides water. It was also involved with HIV/AIDS work, orphan care and providing religious services. Eventually those other issues were jettisoned in order to focus on water sustainability. The organization now provides drilling, maintenance and runs a radio station which focuses on community development, sanitation and hygiene. While the CAR is a very low-infastructure country, most people have access to a radio.

“We realized what the country needs from an American NGO is water infrastructure built and sustained, ” says Klopp, “and so that’s all we do now.”

It is a strategic focus for a unique organization. Hopefully, the success of Water for Good inspires other organizations to realize what can be accomplished with long-term planning and a focus on sustainability.

Brock Hall
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is one of the world’s least developed countries. The country has been economically unstable since achieving its independence from France in 1960. Aid from wealthier countries is often only enough to satisfy a few humanitarian needs. Causes of poverty in Central African Republic include poor agricultural and geographic conditions and an expensive, poorly-constructed medical system.

Agriculture is an extensive source of stress, making it one of the larger causes of poverty in Central African Republic. Their economy is based on the cultivation and sale of crops, such as yams, maize and millet. Around 67 percent of total income is from agricultural production for the rural poor.

The nation runs on export trade; however, it is difficult to develop enough revenue because CAR is a landlocked country. This leaves farmers with little to no opportunities for growth in the agricultural sector. Only 4 percent of arable land is used each year because of the lack of opportunity for exportation. Subsistence farming dominates for many communities. Additionally, one-third of all children under the age of five are underdeveloped and suffering from chronic malnutrition.

There is a sizeable demand for medical services in CAR; however, this demand remains unmet, and citizens of the Central African Republic are suffering. The unequal distribution of medical staff throughout the country is astounding. In 2004, there were estimates that there were no more than three physicians and nine nurses per 100,000 people.

HIV, malaria, hepatitis-A and rabies are the most common diseases in CAR, putting people in fatal situations without proper treatment. Treatment for these diseases is expensive, putting the families of these patients in financial strain. This compels them to give up other necessities, such as food. Preventative measures are often too expensive. The burden of disease is caused by a lack of preventative measures, and it pushes families deeper into poverty.

Some of the causes of poverty in Central African Republic cannot be fixed, such as their relative location to the coast, which affects the amount of exportation. However, other issues have the potential for change. The health care system, for example, can become more accessible, especially for rural communities. Accessible in two ways, one being that there can be a larger number of clinics throughout the country with more physicians per 100,000 people. The other way to become more accessible is for treatment and preventative methods to become free. There is still hope for citizens of the Central African Republic.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

Education in Africa A new education company, Bridge International, is transforming the landscape of education in Africa. Bridge improves education through technology and data analytics. The goal is not only to provide universal education to communities in need but also to use data gathered from thousands of schools to improve administration.

Bridge works to expand educational access. Worldwide there are 263 million children not in school. Bridge improves education for roughly 250,000 children living under what the World Bank defines as extreme poverty.

Beyond a lack of access to education, the problem in many African countries is the poor quality of education. In many countries, there is little infrastructure to ensure accountability needed to provide adequate education. A recent World Bank report stated that the average teacher absentee rate in Uganda was 56 percent and 47 percent in Kenya. Additionally, 67 percent of Kenyan government school teachers cannot pass exams based on the curriculum that they teach.

Many schools in Africa have to deal with communities in which literacy is the least of their concerns because famine, disease and malnourishment are prevalent. This means that generations have been unable to obtain a solid educational foundation. Many children go through school, but often not even learning to read.

Bridge improves education in Africa through innovative technology. Bridge teachers use wireless devices to record both teacher and student attendance. Through this Bridge has achieved an almost 100 percent teacher attendance rate. The “teacher computers” also track lesson pace, assess student scores and measure pupil comprehension. The devices free teachers up from administrative tasks so that they can focus on teaching and helping students who are struggling. The devices also send back data to be analyzed by Bridge administrators for a better educational product.

In Kenya, the 2016 average standardized test scores were 44 percent. However, the average standardized test score for a Bridge student was 59 percent. A recent study by Pencils of Promise, the University of Liberia, the Ministry of Education of Liberia and Bridge demonstrated that after four months there was a clear trend of improved learning among Bridge students. Moreover, after four years at Bridge, the average child’s test scores increase to 74 percent.

Recently, Bridge has partnered with the government of Nigeria to grant one million young people with coding skills. It has partnered with the Liberian government on an initiative to improve public education across the country. It has been proven that if given the correct government clearance, Bridge improves education in Africa.

Bruce Truax

Photo: Flickr

Central African Republic's Poverty Rate
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a country located in the middle of Africa. It is bordered by Chad, Cameroon and South Sudan. Despite its supply of gold, diamonds, oil and uranium, the CAR is incredibly impoverished. The Central African Republic’s poverty rate is considered to be one of the worst in the world, with a GDP per capita of $639.

Political instability in the CAR affects the prosperity of its citizens. In 2013, the Seleka group–a Muslim-affiliated group–seized power in the Christian country. The Anti-Balaka showed Christian resistance and rose up to counter the Seleka. This conflict created a legion of problems in the Central African Republic. In September 2013, Seleka was dissolved. However, there are still remaining rebel groups to this day, known as Ex-Seleka. This conflict has resulted in the use of child soldiers, causing a lack of enrollment in schools and internally displaced persons (IDP) throughout the country. Moreover, this political uncertainty has impaired food rates, health and increased the percentage of people living at less than $1.90 a day.

Unsustainable agriculture practices in the CAR have contributed to its alarming food insecurity rates. Years of conflict and political instability have damaged agricultural activities, and nearly 75% of the country’s population relies on these agricultural activities for food and income.

Malnutrition in the Central African Republic is one of the top concerns for the country. Nearly one-third of the population (1.3 million people) is food insecure, with 47.7% of the entire population undernourished. More than 10% of children suffer from malnutrition. Highly chronic malnutrition rates remain a concern in the CAR. The average life expectancy, for both males and females, is 51.4 years. This is below the international average of 71.4 years. In 2008, 66.26% of the population was living at less than $1.90 a day. This shows incredible under-development. The Central African Republic’s poverty rate shows characteristics of scarcity and hardship.

The Central African Republic’s poverty rate demonstrates a multitude of problems related to the country’s food insecurity, malnourishment and political instability. However, there is hope for the citizens of the Central African Republic. The United States has provided assistance to strengthen the U.N.’s mission to address the continuing humanitarian crisis in the CAR. The United States has provided approximately $500 million in development and security assistance, helping the people of the CAR to find long-term stability and peace. The World Food Programme (WFP) has begun its first food voucher program to assist more than 100,000 people affected by conflict. The organization plans to provide more than 1.2 million people in the CAR with nutrients for life-saving assistance.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is a nation with a long history of political turmoil and humanitarian crises. It is also consistently named among the poorest nations in the world and has some of the worst global health indicators. The country has the sixth highest infant mortality rate and the third-highest maternal mortality rate in the world. As recently as 2013, a major crisis displaced over 25% of the population and almost collapsed the nation’s already precarious health system. Although it seems as if the CAR is finally able to stabilize its political situation—for the first time in its history, the nation has a democratically-elected president and parliament—endemic poverty and poor health infrastructure coupled with a tropical climate makes the prevalence of disease a major problem. Here are four of the most common diseases in the Central African Republic:

  1. Malaria: The mosquito-spread disease is endemic to the Central African Republic. Malaria infects a large portion of the population at least once a year. It accounts for 40% of all medical consultations and is the leading cause of death amongst children. Malaria is the primary public health issue and one of the most common diseases in the Central African Republic. Many international organizations, in partnership with the government, have attempted to carry out projects such as free treatment for children under five and mosquito netting distributions to curb the effect of the disease in the nation.
  2. HIV/AIDS: The CAR has one of the highest rates of HIV in Central and Western Africa. The rate is at 4.9% and is one of the most common diseases in the Central African Republic. People in urban areas, especially women, are at the highest risk of contracting the disease. Due to constant conflict and political turmoil, treatment is often hard to find. Organizations such as the UNHCR help diagnose and provide treatment, but they often suffer in conflict situations. In the 2013 crisis, looters descended on several facilities.
  3. Cholera: In 2016, the medical community panicked at reports of a cholera outbreak in the Central African Republic. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. After the latest humanitarian crisis in 2013, thousands of people were displaced and access to clean water became very limited. This led to a breeding ground for cholera and its ensuing spread throughout the country. UNICEF and other organizations quickly mobilized to contain the outbreak.
  4. Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious bacterial disease that affects the lungs and spreads easily in crowded spaces. Over the past decades, TB has been on the rise in the Central African Republic. The forced displacement of large swathes of the population due to constant ongoing crises often disrupts treatment and prevention operations. Tuberculosis is also a leading killer of HIV-positive people. In 2012, there were 8,084 reported cases of TB—a 44% increase from the year before.

The tropical climate of the Central African Republic means it is already a hotspot for contagious and infectious diseases; a precarious health system coupled with endemic poverty makes matters even worse. Although many international organizations have made a concerted effort to address these issues, the constant political conflict and instability make it extremely hard for them to properly do their job. The international community should help the CAR by not only providing medical aid and supplies but also helping it build a stable government that will properly handle these issues.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

In the heart of Africa surrounded by Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan, the Central African Republic is rich in diversity, culture and resources. However, despite holding some of the world’s most valued natural reserves, including gold, diamonds, and oil, the Central African Republic is in a dire humanitarian crisis. Human rights in the Central African Republic are being violated at a high rate. However, aid agencies are working to eliminate these abuses.

This crisis erupted in 2012 when economic inequalities and ethnic tensions incited conflict. The violence is coming from two opposing non-governmental armed groups: the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka.

Under the control of these combat groups, many human rights in the Central African Republic have been compromised. These groups have attacked civilians, committed sexual assault and demolished villages. There have been more than 560 civilian deaths and upwards of 4,200 homes destroyed. This is likely a fraction of the full damage because of the lack or destruction of records.

With 1.2 million children affected, the worst human rights violation in the Central African Republic is against children. Nearly one in five children is a refugee or is internally displaced. This violence and displacement have resulted in one-third out of school, 41 percent under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition and up to 10,000 recruited by armed groups since 2013.

Despite these circumstances, there is optimism in the fight for human rights in the Central African Republic. In 2016, aid officials met in Brussels to discuss recovery plans, budgets and other efforts to help the crisis. At this meeting, the officials decided that the primary objective besides providing emergency relief should be building a foundation of basic social services, such as schools and clinics, to encourage a peaceful future.

Keeping to this plan, UNICEF trained more than 1,300 teachers as well as built and repaired 172 schools. UNICEF has also initiated projects to enhance primary healthcare, as well as expand access to clean water, sanitation, and education, and offer psychosocial care for children traumatized by violent experiences.

While human rights in the Central African Republic are in need of improvement, aid agencies are focusing their efforts on building a better future for this nation, hoping that the children who have witnessed these tragedies can build the solution.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr


Conflicts in the Central African Republic have had devastating effects on the country’s civilians, particularly the civil war that began in 2012. The healthcare system has become less effective as qualified doctors and nurses move to safer areas, and aid is often denied due to unsafe commuting conditions. Along with a one-third decrease in qualified medical staff, clean water supplies are becoming scarce because water leaks cannot be easily repaired. Due to an unstable healthcare system and less access to clean water and food, many diseases are becoming more prominent among the Central African Republic’s population. Below are two of the top diseases in the Central African Republic that are causing some of the highest mortality rates for both children and adults.

Malaria

Malaria is not only one of the deadliest diseases in the Central African Republic but is the top fatal disease in the world. Malaria is responsible for more than eight percent of total deaths in the country and 32.8 percent of deaths in children under five years old. This number has dramatically risen in direct correlation to the increase in malnutrition. The Central African Republic civil war has detrimentally affected healthcare, making malaria more widespread but less treatable. The war has forced civilians out of their homes, leaving them without shelter and protection against mosquito bites, and resulting in the destruction of 70 percent of existing medical centers.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is combating malaria, and many of the top diseases in the Central African Republic, by bringing aid in the form of treatments and shelters, particularly, mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. The aim is to reach 80 percent of the Central African Republic’s civilians with aid in order to control the malaria problem. However, many locations are simply difficult to reach and the civil war only complicates this. MSF has designed mobile treatment facilities to treat a wider range of people.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a major problem in the Central African Republic and is ranked number nine on the world’s most fatal diseases list. This disease affects 15 percent of adults, most of whom are young women. Not only is the afflicted person severely affected by the disease, but many children have been orphaned by an infected parent or abandoned by their family for contracting HIV/AIDS. The Central African Republic has one of the highest rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the world.

The World Bank’s Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program has provided more than $18 million to African nations since 2001 to combat this disease. This has helped to supply medical centers with proper medicine, such as ARV, which prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In addition, World Bank aid has helped provide vaccines, educational services and mobile services to reach more isolated areas. This funding, however, is limited and not sufficient in reaching all patients in need of treatment. Many patients have also become resistant to the primary drug that is being used for treatment, and additional funding is needed to develop new and effective medicine.

Although these top diseases in the Central African Republic have had detrimental effects on its civilians, there are many forms of aid and organizations that are determined to decrease their crippling effects.

Miryam Wiggli

Photo: Flickr