Razaaly, I. 2016. Integrating economic development approaches into peacebuilding in the Central African Republic. GREAT Insights Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1. February 2016.
The BêkouTrust Fund, the first ever European Trust Fund, has been established to go beyond humanitarian assistance and stimulate economic recovery as well as strengthen stability in Central African Republic.
A volatile and fragile context
For decades, the Central African Republic has been subject to a recurring cycle of instability and violence, which keeps the country in a state of vulnerability, while the main indicators of development have stagnated for 20 years.
In 2013 a rebel movement, the Seleka, put an end to François Bozizé’s presidency. At this stage politically sponsored armed groups emerged and a culture of retaliation between armed groups and communities, seen as aligned with or supporting them, started to develop. This led to massive violence and human rights violations.
The common efforts of the African Union, UN, EU and France to stabilise the country led in 2014 to a ceasefire agreement and to the establishment of a transition government, presided by President Catherine Samba-Panza. Despite the fact that the Central African Republic has regained the attention of the international community, tensions and conflicts between communities, the presence of rebel movements and armed groups and the manipulation of religious differences still represent, among other factors, a threat to peace and reconstruction in the country (International Crisis Group, 2015). Since a new outbreak of intercommunity violence at the end of September 2015, the security situation has been very volatile.Nevertheless, after a few signs of stabilisation, presidential and legislative elections took place to choose a legitimate government who will lead the country to stability. In addition to or even due to this fragile context, the number of development actors and donors in the country is limited and does not allow for the launch of ambitious programmes for economic recovery.
In order to respond to the consequences of the 2013 crisis, the European Union, together with France, Germany and the Netherlands, created the BêkouTrust Fund, the first ever European Trust Fund. This instrument has been developed to enable donors act efficiently in a post-crisis situation and to allow the swift transition from humanitarian aid to early recovery and development (the so called LRRD approach – Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development).
It makes use of flexible and faster procedures, different from traditional EU development tools, opening new possibilities to implement projects in a fragile context likethe Central African Republic. Moreover it aims at pooling resources and expertise between humanitarian and development actors working in/for the Central African Republic and at ensuring better coordination between interventions.
In addition, the Fund should reinforce the effect and the visibility of EU’s interventions in Central African Republic, in the aftermath of the violence of 2013/2014.
The Fund’s main objective is to strengthen the resilience of populations, providing for urgent needs and mostly basic services while, at the same time, addressing the root causes of violence and tensions between communities. As one of the root causes of these tensions lies in poverty and inequalities between social groups, the Fund considers economic recovery and job creation as essential in supporting the country’s development, stabilization and social cohesion. As such, the Fund integrates actions to support economic recovery in specific programmes and as an important component of most of its projects.
The Fund has launched specific programmes aimed at stimulating economic recovery and job creation:
Economic revival and job creation are also fundamental components of other programmes funded by Bêkou:
The Fund has, from time to time, been questioned about the relevance of such programmes in a fragile context such as the Central African Republic, where as yet the response to emergency needs is not fully covered.
In fact, this mechanism has been put in place specifically to go beyond humanitarian assistance, while laying the basis for development in the long term; as such, investing in economic recovery, job creation and better overall prospects for the younger generation (notably as an alternative to joining armed groups) is a key tool to ease tensions, to give hope and perspectives to strengthen stability. Perceived inequalities inside and between communities are in fact among the causes of destabilisation (CRISE, 2010).
While the Fund works to provide the conditions for economic recovery, the lasting effects in terms of stimulating private sector initiatives will not be guaranteed without the strong reengagement of the private sector, notably to restart businesses and economic activities affected by the crisis.
Read more on the Bêkou Trust Fund at: http://capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu/trust-fund-bekou/dashboard
CRISE (2010), “Horizontal inequalities as a cause of conflict: a review of CRISE findings”, January.
International Crisis Group (2015), “Central African Republic: the Roots of Violence”, 21 September.
About the author
Irchad Razaaly is Bêkou Trust Fund Manager, EU Commission, DG DEVCO.
Photo: THIMO (Travaux Haute Intensité de Main d’Oeuvre) workers in Bangui (2015, David Belluz)
This article was published in GREAT Insights Volume 5, Issue 1 (February 2016).