Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is home to around 4.8 million people. Due to its civil unrest, this country also has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and is in a state of crisis. Here are the top 10 facts about the life expectancy in the Central African Republic that reflect the current quality of life, as well as the steps set for future improvement.

Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in the Central African Republic

1. As of 2018, the average life expectancy in the Central African Republic is 53 years, which gives it a ranking of 217 out of 224 countries. The average male life expectancy is 51.7 years, while the average female life expectancy female is slightly higher at 54.4 years.

2. After winning independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic suffered decades of political instability. In early 2018, more than 18,000 citizens of the Central African Republic fled fighting in their homeland to take refuge in neighboring Chad. The violence and displacement of these people are some of the main causes of the low life expectancy. As of 2016, more than half of the population was in need of food and the violence had killed thousands. The fighting also forced Muslims to flee their homes in the Christian-majority country.

3. Although the average life expectancy seems despairingly low, the Central African Republic has made improvements in its overall health over the past few years. After the persistent military crisis, the country’s overall life expectancy dropped to a low of 43 years in 2007. Luckily, after President Francois Bozize signed peace pacts with two rebel groups, the Central African Republic was able to tackle more of its own political, economic and social conditions, contributing to a dramatic rise in life expectancy.

4. The leading causes of death in the Central African Republic include HIV/AIDS, influenza, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS deaths in the Central African Republic account for 13 percent of total deaths in the country. Influenza and pneumonia deaths make up 11 percent of deaths while diarrheal diseases account for around eight percent of deaths.

5. The life expectancy does not account for the fact that an estimated 14.4 percent of the average life is spent in poor health. While diseases account for a high proportion of deaths, poor nutrition is one of the main causes of early decline. Years of conflict have reduced the mobility of populations, which in turn has hindered people’s ability to grow crops, buy food and access health care. “Most of the people live on less than $1 a day. There is little food. Even cassava, the most basic foodstuff in the local diet, is often scarce”, said Dr. Deus Bazira from the World Health Organization. Pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable individuals and are most susceptible to malnutrition.

6. Throughout the country, there is currently an extreme water and hygiene crisis. Sixty-eight percent of the rural population lacks access to clean and safe water, which increases the risk of diarrheal diseases and otherwise preventable water-borne diseases.

7. Areas outside of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, have limited health care. Much of the population faces poorly equipped and understaffed clinics in the countryside. Bangui itself has only one major hospital, which is limited in care. The distribution of medicine is also difficult due to the lack of transportation.

8. Since 2016, the country is working to improve its overall health with a new trajectory under the leadership of the government. The Central African Republic plans to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable groups, such as those with disabilities, children, pregnant women and malnourished patients. “This new commitment to improving the health and nutrition of the poorest and most vulnerable will help ease the poverty that stymies the Central African Republic’s growth and unlock its economic potential,” said Mariam Claeson, Director of the Global Financing Facility.

9. On January 7, 2019, the U.N. worked with the Central African Republic to launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan. This operation requested around $430 million to provide humanitarian assistance to 1.7 million people this year, a major step in improving health conditions throughout the country.

10. Although providing humanitarian aid is difficult due to security and logistical constraints, international operations and organizations are assisting the Central African Republic through its current crisis. The International Rescue Committee and The European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) are examples of major strides to offer medical care, water and sanitation services and protection for people in high-risk areas.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in the Central African Republic provide insight into the progress made and steps needed to improve the quality of life in the country. Although the state of health remains unstable, with relief agencies working to assist conflict-affected populations, the Central African Republic will hopefully continue to increase its life expectancy over the next few years.

– Malini Nayak
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 facts About Living Conditions in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Africa with 16 prefectures. The Central African Republic is among the poorest nations in the world even though the country has an abundance of natural resources. Roughly 90 percent of the population lives in poverty, with little access to food, decent housing, water or sanitation. One of the main causes of poverty is the ongoing conflict that shattered the country. This conflict caused the living conditions in the Central African Republic to deteriorate along with the way of life for many citizens. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Central African Republic.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Central African Republic

  1. The country and many humanitarian organizations are making a desperate call for aid. Around 2.9 million people of the current 4.8 million living in the Central African Republic will need assistance. This is more than half of the population. On Jan. 7, the country’s government teamed up with the U.N. to launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, requesting nearly $431 million to provide humanitarian assistance.
  2. For a majority of the population, the living conditions in the Central African Republic are too dangerous. Many were displaced from their homes and thrown into chaos. As of January 2019, the current number of people displaced from their homes inside the country is 640,969 people. Living mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport, the conditions the displaced live in are not any better. Refugees are often forced to sleep in the open, making them vulnerable to harsh weather conditions. They have little access to clean water, food or medical aid.
  3. For those who are able to cross the borders to refugee camps, the conditions aren’t much better. Over 598,000 refugees from the country are forced to live in crowded villages or scattered along the borders. The neighboring country to the west, Cameroon, hosts the largest population of Central African refugees according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Approximately 275,700 refugees took refuge in the country as of December 2018.
  4. Nearly half of all Central Africans are under the age of 14 years. Of note, 370,000 of these children are orphans who will grow up without one or both their parents. The SOS Children’s Villages in Bangui and Bouar are home to thousands of children, many orphaned by AIDS or civil war.
  5. Malnutrition is a major problem in the Central African Republic. A USAID survey conducted in January 2019 found that 10 of the country’s prefectures have excessive levels of severe acute malnutrition. Around 1.9 million people in the country face severe levels of food insecurity. In efforts to help, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) distributed food aid to more than 5,000 people at the Saint Jean de Galabadja parish in Bangui. In December 2018, the USAID partnered with the U.N.’s World Food Programme to provide emergency food assistance to more than 628,000 food-insecure people.
  6. Diseases such as malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, nutritional diseases and sexually transmitted diseases are major health concerns in the country. Unfortunately, there is little support offered by clinics and first-aid posts available. The capital of the country, Bangui, only has one hospital and there is little to no health aid outside of the city.
  7. As the violence continues and more and more citizens are displaced, access to clean water is becoming harder to achieve. In rural areas, clean water is often not available at all, which allows the spread of numerous diseases. In response to this issue, the ICRC helped established 11 taps connected to the municipal water network and three water tanks fitted with a total of 24 taps for around 35,000 displaced people gathered at the airport in Bangui. The ICRC plans to have more taps and latrines set up at different sites to increase access.
  8. Transportation can be hard in the Central African Republic. The country only has about 400 miles of paved roads and no access to railways to the sea. However, most of the country rely on the rivers passing through for communication and trade. Because it is hard to navigate the unpaved roads or the lack of access to ferries, the displaced live scattered throughout the country and around the borders.
  9. Many NGOs try to improve living conditions in the Central African Republic. One of them is the Mercy Corps which worked in the country since 2007. The Mercy Corps helps the residents in various ways. It gives immediate assistance to displaced families and orphaned children fleeing from the violence that plagues the country. It also operates as a survivor support center that offers linkages to medical care, counseling and legal services for survivors of gender-based violence. Other services include the Corps’ members training vulnerable people in income-generating activities, constructing wells and leading play therapy and child protection committees that help kids heal from traumatic violence.
  10. The World Food Programme also works in the Central African Republic alongside the UNHCR, UNICEF and NGO partners to provide vulnerable communities basic food and nutrition by distributing food. The WFP also helps to support smallholder farmers in restoring and enhancing their productive assets. When school meals and general food distributions programs purchase from smallholders, it will be benefiting 46,000 farmers. 60 percent of them are women.

As the country currently stands as one of the world’s poorest countries, there is still a lot of work to do. However, there is still hope for the improvement of living conditions in the Central African Republic.

Madeline Oden
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Line Breakdown
Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, showing that poverty remains a top global issue. Every country has a poverty line, which is the level of personal or family income below which one is considered poor by government standards. While there are a handful of countries with extreme poverty, there are others that have maintained the poverty line within their country.

Poverty Rates

According to the Huffington Post, factoring poverty rates is a mixture of art and science. When coming up with a country’s poverty line, the measurement of wealth and distribution has to coincide with the cost of living rates or price purchase parity adjustments. In other words, someone who may be perceived as poor in the United States can be considered wealthy in another country. The global quantification of extreme poverty is categorized differently than middle- and upper-income countries.

Countries with the Highest Poverty Line

  • The Dominican Republic of Congo: Despite the most recent decrease in DRC’s poverty rate, 71 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2012, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations has estimated that 2.3 million people living in the DRC are poor and living in refugee camps. Due to the detrimental political corruption, the people of DRC continue to suffer for minimal necessities. The nutritional statistics of DRC are extremely low and health conditions are severe. Stunting, wasting, immunization coverage, drinking water conditions and diseases are just a few examples of matters that need to be taken seriously to solve these conditions.
  • The Central African Republic: As of 2008, the poverty rate for the Central African Republic stood at 66.3 percent and not much has changed. Although this is a healthy decrease from 84.3 percent in 1992, a majority of the countries’ population lives on less than $1.90 per day. To many, the Central African Republic may appear to be the land of diamonds, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. With a low population count of five million people, most of them are living without food, sanitation and decent housing. Every year, the Central African Republic only brings in $750. The Central African Republic’s issues reside from civil conflict, diseases and lack of infrastructure for schools and jobs. With minimal annual income, jobs are scarce and in high demand.

Countries with the Lowest Poverty Line

  • Finland: With a low poverty rate of 5.5 percent, Finland has one of the lowest poverty lines in decades, although the risk of poverty for many residing in Finland is the highest it’s ever been. There’s a secret to Finland’s success story: employment, education and parenting take priority. In addition, Finland is committed to improving education and healthcare. It is generous with welfare and possesses a low infant mortality rate, good school test scores and an extremely low poverty rate. Finland is considered the second happiest country on earth, falling second to the United States.
  • The Czech Republic: About 9.7 percent of the Czech Republic’s population live below the poverty line. Of all the European Union member states, Czech has the lowest amount of people threatened by poverty. In comparison to the average rate of 17 percent for the eurozone, Czech is doing pretty well for itself. Czech’s high-income economy is primarily based on the revenue it receives from its auto industry. This still remains its largest single industry, accounting for 24 percent of Czech’s product manufacturing. Czech’s wealth is due to its successful trading system.

Poverty lines will continue to be a global issue until countries ally to reduce the gap in socioeconomic status. Without the rich, there would be no poor. Even within impoverished areas of the world, there are different levels of poverty and what one can afford. Unity and prioritizing citizen’s needs is a necessity to promote change in poverty lines.

 – Kayla Sellers 

Photo: Flickr

In a world of limited choices, becoming a child soldier can sometimes seem like the closest thing to freedom. Since 2012, more than 14,000 children have become Central African Republic child soldiers. At merely eight years old, these children are vulnerable targets and used as human shields, combatants and spies for various rebel militia groups in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Civil Conflicts and Child Soldiers

The CAR has experienced civil turmoil since gaining its independence from France in 1960. The current civil conflict began when the rebel Muslim group Seleka took control of the predominantly Christian country in 2013, overthrowing then-President Francois Bozize. While the 2016 election of current president Faustin-Archange Touadera inspired hope among many, government security and control of the widespread violence remains largely in the CAR’s capital Bangui.

Contrary to popular belief, Central African Republic child soldiers often join rebel militia groups by choice. Children who voluntarily join militias often live in impoverished areas with unstable conditions. Desperate for food and a sense of protection, these children decide to become child soldiers in hopes of a better life. Although many child soldiers join these militias by choice, some are forced into these roles with drugs.

Central African Republic child soldiers are used as spies and messengers for their rebel groups because they aren’t as suspect as adults. Boys are more readily thrown into conflict than girls, but both sexes are exploited; sometimes, they are sexually abused.

Community Integration of Combat Children

With little or no education prior to joining, these children are unaware of the true nature of the situation. Many have lost the guidance and protection of loved ones and seek revenge on groups that may have killed family members. Rebel militia groups take advantage of this by offering support and aid to their cause.

Releasing child soldiers from their militias and reintegrating them into safe communities presents a persistent problem. Advocacy group Child Soldiers International (CSI) offers continued support in fighting child military recruitment internationally. Thankfully, progress is being made in this area.

CSI has led education initiatives to bring awareness and education regarding child soldier recruitment and devastation in the CAR. One such effort supported by CSI, UNICEF, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) and Enfants sans Frontieres (ESF) was the publishing and distribution of illustrated booklets that explained the effects of child soldier recruitment to communities affected in the CAR. In May 2018, workshops regarding child soldier recruitment, devastation and laws preventing further recruitment were held in Bangui.

Child Soldiers International

CSI supports the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) treaty, ratified in September of 2017. OPAC sets the minimum age for military draft and involvement at 18, which is also the minimum age for non-state armed groups; however, 16 is the minimum age for state armed forces recruitment.

According to CSI, “Since OPAC was adopted, 166 of 197 states (84 percent) have ratified the treaty.” CSI’s three-year plan entitled ”Declare 18!” intends to raise the minimum draft and involvement age to 18 in 100 percent of states with armed forces by 2020. Continued support of such organizations will continue to change the discourse of this exploitation in the CAR.

– Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr

Infant Mortality in Central African Republic
Newborns remain at high risk in war-torn countries, and in the case of Central African Republic, many women lack adequate resources to ensure a successful pregnancy. This absence has resulted in the nation having one of the largest statistics of infant mortality in the world.

In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the infant mortality rate for Central African Republic in 2016 was 42.3 deaths per every 1,000 births, making Central African Republic one of the riskiest places for a child to be born.

Causes of Infant Mortality

According to a study by UNICEF, the main cause for infant mortality in third-world countries is preterm birth complications, which encompasses 35 percent.

Complications can often result from limited access to medical care. According to the same study by UNICEF, not only was infant mortality in Central African Republic one of the highest in the world, but as of the year 2009, there were only three healthcare professionals to assist with every 10,000 people in the country.

Also, due to the lack of trained medical professionals to assist pregnant women, many mothers decide to have the child at home or end up in labor before they reach a facility. In a 2012 report published by Doctors Without Borders, the report stated that 26 percent of newborn deaths occurred in a hospital, while 74 percent of deaths occurred at home or en route to a hospital.

Solutions to Infant Mortality

Due to the high risks that newborns encounter, organizations have provided and proposed solutions to infant mortality in Central African Republic. According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), midwives can serve as a substitute for mothers who are unable to make the journey to the nearest healthcare facility.

The organization stated that a midwifery program in Nigeria was able to see a 60 percent increase in the use of prenatal care and almost 50 percent increase in healthy childbirth, when there was the presence of a midwife during pregnancy.

The Importance of Breastfeeding

Another proposed solution is aiding mothers with breastfeeding before and after they give birth. UNICEF has addressed the importance of breastfeeding mothers by stating that, “delaying breastfeeding by 2–23 hours after birth increases the risk that a newborn will die by more than two fifths. Delaying it by 24 hours or more increases the risk by almost 80 percent.”

UNICEF has made efforts over the years to address this statistic and stated that it has supplied thousands of children and mothers in Central African Republic with Vitamin A supplements to aid with breastfeeding.

Safe and Quality Treatment

Furthermore, Doctors Without Borders has established a project in the town of Boguila that includes a hospital which operates and provides secondary health care, an outpatient department and 10 health posts in proximity to the town.

With access to safe and quality healthcare facilities, midwifes and proper nutrition before and after pregnancy, mothers can be in better means of having children that survive after birth — an occurrence that would decrease the alarming rate of infant mortality in Central African Republic.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

credit access in the central African republicSince its independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has faced adversity in growing its economy. While poverty plays a significant role in the region’s struggles to achieve food security, safe sanitation and shelter, a lack of credit access in the Central African Republic is another main contributor.

Obstacles to Credit Access in the Central African Republic

Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) states that the weaknesses in the CAR’s financial sector have held back its economy, as it contributes only 17.6 percent to the country’s GDP. The inadequacy of services also makes it difficult for people to access loans or other banking services that could be helpful in their businesses or personal lives. To help the CAR’s citizens improve their quality of life, increased credit access in the Central African Republic is crucial.

CAR’s financial services have been relatively stable, but the sector is considered fragile due to deficient bank loan portfolios and inactive loans, known as non-performing loans (NPLs), which account for 30 percent of all loans in the CAR. The sector also has an above average percentage of loans to the public sector, making it vulnerable to losses due to government instability.

To help address these issues, the International Monetary Fund approved a disbursement of $40.2 million and an augmentation of $55.1 million to the CAR in 2017 as part of the Extended Credit Facility Arrangement. The funds will be used to support economic growth and develop the banking sector. According to Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the CAR’s program consists of “improving regional institutions, stricter monetary policies, removal of statutory advances, sound bank regulation and supervision, and firm controls over the extension of credit to banks.”

Bringing Credit to Individuals in the CAR

A more direct way of aiding impoverished families is through the Mercy Corps project Microfinance in the CAR, which launched in 2010. The project’s mission is to produce, educate and assist 169 Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLA). The project was also created to assist in constructing supervision strategies, insurance funds and credit policies. The project’s answer to the CAR’s issues is to educate the VSLA groups to practice saving and credit strategies during the members’ first nine-month loan and savings cycle. Its long-term goal is to help 3,300 households by expanding the groups’ assets in developing and overseeing independent businesses to gross earnings.

In recent years, credit access in the CAR has been made possible through a microfinance program established by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) for entrepreneurs developing businesses. The UNDP opened a saving bank called Gogoro that gives users the opportunity to save money securely. Severin Saragourne, an entrepreneur and a user of Gogoro, said, “If you borrow wisely and respect the deadline for your program, you’ll have no problem paying the money back.” The micro-credit program has saved many people from poverty and starvation in the CAR. Through Gogoro, more than 49,000 people in underdeveloped nations have received access to credit, savings and other financial services to overcome poverty.

Another sign of progress in financial services is the UNDP’s project with the Leaders of the International Centre of Credit Unions, which made magnetic cards available for all transactions in 2011. Even with the obstacles the CAR has struggled with, the region shows promise in improving its financial sector and resolving the limitations of credit access in the Central African Republic.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr

Relations with the United States and the Central African Republic (CAR) began in 1960 following the nation’s independence from France. While CAR is one of the least developed nations in the world, the United States has enjoyed strong relations with CAR since it began. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic by recognizing the steps the country has taken after decades of instability and weak governance.

The United States had suspended embassy operations three times over the past 20 years, most recently in December 2012 in the CAR due to violence and the overthrow of the CAR government. The embassy reopened in September 2014 and remains open today.

Keeping the Peace

Due to the result of years of weak government and violence, the United Nations (U.N.) installed a multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation with over 10,000 peacekeepers in September 2014 to aid the transition process of a new constitution and election.

In December 2015, the country approved a new constitution and successfully held national elections for the President in February 2016 and for the National Assembly in April 2016. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic through a more stable country that enjoys greater security through improved economic growth and development.

While the CAR has a more a stable government, conflict has grown between armed groups across 2017 as have attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeeping forces. The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Relief Coordinator of the U.N., Ursula Mueller, has noted that 637,00 people received emergency food help and 1.4 million people received clean water assistance.

A Strong Ally

In addition to a now more stable government, the CAR does have some natural resources, with timber and diamonds dominating exports; however, transportation and electricity are extremely limited. The CAR is now the United States 187th largest goods trading partner with $37 million in total goods traded during 2015.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that U.S exports of good to Central African Republic supported 100 jobs in 2014. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to the Central African Republic through top exports, including vehicles ($23 million) and electrical machinery ($3 million).

USAID decided to step up its aid to the people of the CAR as over 60 percent of the CAR lives in poverty, population displacement continues to increase as a result of ongoing violence, and the number of internally displaced persons increased by more than 70 percent since early 2017.

Humanitarian Aid

Both the U.N. and USAID’s partners coordinate to give emergency humanitarian help to affected populations. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace continues to support the U.N. World Food Program’s distribution of food to the most vulnerable people of the CAR — an estimated $14.9 million expenditure to the U.N. agency.

USAID and other humanitarian organizations also established an early warning system that sent or received nearly 130 humanitarian alerts throughout the year, identifying areas for potential relief interventions.

The U.S. has provided over $500 million of humanitarian, development and security assistance in support of the CAR people’s efforts to find long-term stability and peace. It remains to be seen how relations between the Central African Republic and the United States continue, but so far, the two nations are mutually beneficial.

– Zachary Ott

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in the Central African Republic
With a GDP per capita of only $639, the Central African Republic is ranked as the poorest country in the world. In a study undertaken by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic project, infrastructure in the Central African Republic was found to have contributed much to the country’s economic growth.

Between 2005 and 2009, despite the decades of conflict that have riddled the Central African Republic, the total contribution to the country’s per capita growth by telecommunications, electricity and road infrastructure was 0.9 percentage points. Though this was significantly lower than other central African countries, the study made it clear that infrastructure development in the sub-Saharan context led to faster growth per capita in several countries.

This strong potential is also beset by a dire reality: the central African region has the worst infrastructure on the African continent. According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the “region stands out on the continent as one with the least infrastructure network, particularly transport and energy, which impacts negatively on production capacities and regional trade as well as social conditions and welfare.”

Infrastructure in the Central African Republic, in particular, is in a very poor state. For instance, only 10 percent of the population — mainly in the capital of Bangui — has access to electricity, which is not available to the rural population.

Other services like telecommunication and banking are either lacking or nonexistent beyond Bangui. Corruption within the government not only fuels instability but also hinders developmental and growth efforts in the country as natural resources like diamond and gold are exploited within the inertia of instability.

Despite the many challenges, transport, water, power, and information and communications technology infrastructure in the Central African Republic have seen significant progress with $134 million in annual spending, $37 million of which is lost to inefficiencies.

The World Bank has estimated that a sustained expenditure of $346 million per year over the next decade can address the challenges that remain. Just by improving efficiency in infrastructure operations, around $34 million of additional resources can be unlocked.

Alternatives to the government’s poor budgetary situation have also been proposed, including extending the time horizon for meeting the infrastructure targets, prioritizing infrastructure spending and exploring additional resources from outside the budget. These are all ways infrastructure in the Central African Republic can be improved.

2017 saw some economic recovery in the Central African Republic, with GDP growth estimated to be around 4.5 percent, which fell short of the projected 5.3 percent. In 2018-19, the AfDB foresees a rise in average annual growth to 5 percent or higher. This growth “will hinge on improved domestic security, which is crucial to agricultural recovery and implementation of investment plans and economic reforms supported by international partners.”

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

The Central African Republic (CAR) is an impoverished country that suffers from continued violence, conflict and instability. As of 2016, the country ranked last out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Development projects in the Central African Republic are needed, and thus, many organizations are working in the region.

At a 2016 global conference, the international community pledged $2.2 billion to help meet CAR’s most urgent needs. Here are five development projects in the Central African Republic that are making a difference.

  1. The Rural Connectivity Project in the CAR is working to give people in rural areas greater access to markets and social services. This will be accomplished through rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, resettlement and emergency preparedness. The project has received $45 million to accomplish these objectives.
  2. The LONDO Project is a development project in the Central African Republic that is designed to support social and economic recovery. The project also facilitates peacebuilding in the country. These objectives are achieved through a combination of methods including improving governance, improving infrastructure and increasing employment. Twenty million dollars has been allocated to this project.
  3. The European Commission’s Bêkou Trust Fund Program is seeking to improve the economic and political landscape of the Central African Republic. The goal of the fund is to help the country transition from short-term disaster relief to long-term development. This includes re-establishing essential services and utilities, increasing economic opportunity and working toward political stability.
  4. The Reintegration of Ex-combatants project supports reintegration into communities and works to improve the overall social and economic infrastructure of host communities. This program works in four steps that are represented by the acronym DDRR— Disarmament, Demobilization, Reinsertion and Repatriation. The budget for this project is $30 million.
  5. USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) supports low-emission development in the Central African Republic and the surrounding area. This includes supporting sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. The program is currently in its third phase, which focuses on institutionalizing conservation monitoring approaches. This phase is slated to continue through 2020.

The Central African Republic has a long way to go to recover from decades of conflict and instability. However, with sustained investment from the international community and a focus on long-term development projects in the Central African Republic, the country can begin to provide a safer and more stable way of life to all living there.

– Aaron Childree

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in the Central African RepublicThe landlocked Central African Republic has a population of about 4.7 million and a land area of 623,000 square kilometers. Women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic is a challenging task in this nation, known as the unhappiest country in the world. The Human Development Index ranks this country as the lowest among 188 nations.

Similar to a few other undeveloped nations, economic and social discrimination are common barriers to women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic. Single women are not regarded as the heads of households and are often denied family subsidies to which they are entitled. While the constitution guarantees equal rights, many women, especially seniors and those without families, had been accused of being witches. The proportion of women in government ministries and female seats in parliament remains relatively low, at 12.5 percent as of 2015.

While equal inheritance and property rights are enshrined in civil law, women are vulnerable to discriminatory customary laws, especially in rural areas. There is no penalty for spousal rape, nor a minimum sentence for rape. Incomplete statistics suggest that one in seven women had been raped during the previous year, while the true incidence of rape could be even higher. Of women surveyed, 22 percent claimed physical harm by a member of their household. Also, there is no set of penalties on sexual harassment till then.

A 2013 report found that access to primary school was not equal for girls and boys. While 65 percent of girls were enrolled in the first year of school, this number sharply declined to 23 percent after the sixth grade. Many girls left school in their early teens to marry and have children. The illiteracy rate of females was also much higher than that of males.

A recent study reported that this nation has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, where 68 percent of teenage girls got married before the age of 18 and 29 percent were married before the age of 15. There is no prohibition against polygamy and bride-trading, which poses significant barriers to women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic.

A few global institutions such as U.N. Women and the International Rescue Committee put great effort into the protection of women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic. Their officials appealed to the international community to mobilize for the peace and security of women.

While some notable progress had been recognized on women’s empowerment in the Central African Republic, gender inequality and other related issues persist, demanding patient global advocacy on closing the long-existing gender gaps for this nation.

– Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr