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CAR: Ouogo, a forsaken area

Published on Monday 17 December 2018

Since 2013, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has been working in the Central African Republic (CAR), as part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) for displaced populations, returnees and victims of natural disasters. From the rehabilitation of boreholes, the distribution of women’s kits to essential household products, tens of thousands of people have been supported.

For several years, Central Africans have faced recurrent conflicts. They have been affected by several clashes between armed groups fighting for occupation and control of the areas. As a result, population find themselves in extremely precarious situations. Lack of access to drinking water, collapsed houses, burned and looted villages: 50% of the population needs humanitarian aid.

Faced with such violence and having no choice but to flee – Central Africans are often deprived of any kind of assistance for many months, during their displacement and on their way back for those who manage to return home.

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL ON THE FRONT LINE

In north-western CAR, in the sub-prefecture of Batangafo, the village of Ouogo and its surroundings have been the scene of clashes causing high insecurity and population displacements whose needs in terms of humanitarian assistance have increased significantly but in an area where the absence of humanitarian actors and state services makes it a “forgotten” area. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL was the first humanitarian stakeholder to intervene in Ouogo and still the only one to provide a response in the area today.

“We were able to help more than 22,000 people by distributing 4,206 non-food kits (soap, jerry-can, mosquito net, bucket…) through the largest RRM intervention of the year,” says Cleophas, head of the UNICEF-funded programme. From June to September 2018, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s action also enabled more than 13,000 displaced people to regain access to safe drinking water thanks to the rehabilitation of ten boreholes.

 

centrafrique RRM

Central African Republic

Context and action
  • 4.6 million inhabitants
  • 62.6% poverty rate
  • 185th out of 188 on the Human Development Index
  • 308,976 people helped

ASSESS TO BETTER TARGET NEEDS

These targeted distributions, in particular the distribution of women’s kits, were made after an evaluation conducted in 2017 in more than 25 localities. This evaluation enabled to learn that during those periods of displacements or first phases of return, women who are among the most vulnerable people in this type of context, express menstrual problems. Allowing them to maintain hygiene and thus their dignity by providing them with the essential products they need (soap, bucket, loincloth…) is essential.

“This kit, distributed to more than 8,000 women, is an innovation and aims to be integrated into all emergency distributions of essential products, says Cleophas. The positive feedback we have received from women has shown us the importance of such assistance.”

 

RESPOND IN EXTREME URGENCY, A LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE

 

This RRM intervention in Ouogo was a major logistical challenge; the area being far from the urban centres of the sub-prefecture and two days away by road. The rainy season obviously complicated matters, preventing trucks from reaching the villages.

“Our teams, whose commitment is no longer to be demonstrated, then had to find alternatives and turned to a fleet of 4×4s, which had to brave numerous mudflats, flooded river crossings, repairs to structures and crossings, to enable the delivery of equipment and the distribution of kits,” concluded Cleophas, who recalls several months of intense work but facilitated by good coordination and support from the other RRM partners in the country.

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© Aurélien Descieux-Read / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL