The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Roads to peace
Decades of instability have caused untold suffering for people across the Central African Republic. In the second of a two-part series, we explore how improving infrastructure is helping connect communities.
About 600 kilometres east of Paoua lies Bambari, the capital of Ouaka province. Home to some 40,000 people, Bambari is an important market town and transit hub that connects the region to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.
Alongside a dusty road, a team of dedicated women and men are working to build a drainage system that will help prevent flooding during the rainy season and improve people’s ability to move around.
Ismaïl, a representative for the taxi drivers of Bambari, explains how when it rains, the roads become inaccessible, making it extremely difficult for people to travel. This impacts the local economy and restricts access to important services. “When it rains, it is difficult for drivers to earn an income. There are no customers,” he says.
Involving members of the community in the rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure is an important aspect of the project, which aims to promote peace and stability through community engagement.
“It is a pleasure to see that my brothers are invested in the rehabilitation of this road. Soon we will be able to get around normally,” says Chancella Mbalou. With the money she earns, Chancella is able to support her two children and she is also planning to set up a small business of her own. “I would like to open a small kiosk and call it after one of my children,” she explains.
In 2019, a total of three kilometres of roads were rehabilitated in Bambari as part of the World Bank-funded project. Transporting materials to the worksites was extremely difficult. “As you know, we are in a post-crisis city. Bambari was one of the cities that was highly impacted by the events. Certain areas remain insecure,” says UNOPS Site Engineer Placide Zandanga Komokoïna.
The construction of a central station for cargo trucks along with the rehabilitation of a health centre will also be completed in Bambari.
“UNOPS, as part of its activities funded by the World Bank, is a key partner for the prefecture,” says Victor Bissekoin, the prefect of Ouaka province. “There is a great need to reconstruct the country and Bambari is slowly evolving,” he adds.
Meet some of the people from the community ...
A space to come together
The first of the four infrastructure projects to be completed in Bambari is a small municipal park, which is providing a much-needed space for different communities to come together.
Laughter and singing can be heard from the tree-lined park, where a group of women meet to promote peace between their communities.
“Meeting here is a good thing. There was nowhere before, but now we can enjoy this space,” says Rose Wambeti, the head of a local women’s group that brings Muslims and Christians together to promote peaceful dialogue.
Peace is when we reunite and say no to violence."
About the project
The Support to Communities Affected by Displacement (PACAD) project is a $28 million programme funded by the World Bank in partnership with the government of the Central African Republic. Implemented by UNOPS, it is divided into three areas: infrastructure, cash transfer and community mobilization. Each component aims to address the basic needs of displaced communities in four cities and two neighbourhoods of the capital, Bangui, to help improve living conditions and reduce poverty.
Key objectives of the programme are to promote peaceful dialogue among the communities by involving them in the planning, construction and maintenance of infrastructure; improve their access to services; and ensure the most vulnerable people have sufficient financial means to meet their daily needs.