HOUSES USED AS A SECURITY GUARANTEE IN BANGUI
In Bangui in the Central African Republic, Première Urgence Internationale is supporting groups of people who are returning home to the PK5 neighbourhoods of Bangui after having previously fled. Teams are building shelters to help people settle again.
PK5 in Bangui, STILL HOME TO A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
PK5 in Bangui (‘point kilométrique 5’ or kilometre post 5) is an area situated in the north-east of the 3rd district. It consists of several neighbourhoods characterised by their mix of religions. To a large extent destroyed during the crisis which broke out in 2013, these neighbourhoods became an area known for clashes, where civilians suffered from numerous atrocities.
Since the beginning of 2017, many displaced persons have been returning home to resettle in their old neighbourhoods, such as the PK5 in Bangui in Central African Republic, despite a particularly volatile security situation and a humanitarian crisis that is still ongoing. These population movements are exacerbating already significant humanitarian needs, particularly in the following areas:
- water, sanitation and hygiene
- activities to revive the economy
USING WATER FROM CHANNELS WHERE EARTH AND RUBBISH ARE GATHERING
The neighbourhoods around PK5 in Bangui are on the whole extremely isolated and historically poorly integrated into the city’s politics. For example, SODECA, the Central African water agency, does not operate in this area. The inhabitants are therefore compelled to take water from channels in which earth and rubbish are gathering. They use it for drinking, cooking and washing. Wells have not been operational since the 2013 crisis.
HELPING POPULATIONS TO RETURN
Première Urgence Internationale started working in these neighbourhoods in the Central African Republic in 2014. In the Boulata neighbourhood, teams have been working for 3 years on rebuilding housing for the people who have returned, and for the population remaining in the neighbourhood during the crisis. This is supported by work on sanitation for the neighbourhood in the 3rd district. Methods to support revenue generating activities have been implemented. The aim is to revitalise the neighbourhoods and allow displaced populations to return.
Première Urgence Internationale is now supporting the PK5 in Bangui, in particular with the reconstruction of 1,100 shelters in the Kokoro neighbourhood. The shelters being built by the teams are a modest size: 18m² to house families averaging 5 to 7 people. But they give displaced people a chance to return and resettle in the neighbourhood. They also help to make the area safer as well as revitalising it. The shelters offer direct assistance to populations who consequently will be able to extend their houses. As Hamidou explains, “The house has protected us well from sun, from rain, from wind, from mosquitoes and diseases.”
HAMIDOU LIVED IN A TENT FOR 4 YEARS
Hamidou, 43, is married with 4 children. On the 5th December 2013, when fighting broke out in Bangui, he left the Boulata neighbourhood. He took refuge with his wife and children near the mosque in PK5 in Bangui where a camp for displaced persons was spontaneously forming. After 4 years of ‘nightmare’ and of life in a tent, Première Urgence Internationale is giving him the chance to move back to his old neighbourhood, thanks to the reconstruction project which is being funded by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre.
Now very active in the neighbourhood, he makes a living from little jobs in Bangui PK5’s market, a far cry from the warehousing business he owned alongside his brother before the crisis.
Just like Hamidou, Augustine has also benefited from this reconstruction project. She is 50 years old and is a widow with 7 children. As the shelter was not big enough for them all, she has put up a tent by the side of her house.
The shelter, as conceived by the projects led by Première Urgence Internationale in the Kokoro neighbourhoods, will come to represent the heart of the home. A standard design is offered to the people who will live there. They will be able to build extensions once they have the necessary resources.
A resident of the Boulata neighbourhood since her childhood, Augustine left the area in December 2013 to move to the M’Poko site. There she first got to know Première Urgence Internationale, who was managing the displaced persons’ camp at the time. It was while she was there that she was able to benefit from a Première Urgence Internationale project which gave her the chance to earn a small income.
AUGUSTINE: “BUILDING HOUSES HAS BROUGHT SECURITY”
At the end of 2016, she left the camp, along with her family. But she will never receive the money promised to her by the Central African government for leaving the camp. When the M’Poko camp evacuation happened, the government had pledged to give a small sum to every person registered as a camp resident. But many have not received it, for example Augustine. The reason was registration problems and identification.
Première Urgence Internationale helped her by offering her and her family a roof over their heads, in early 2017. Augustine is now making a living by selling palm wine. She goes by motorcycle-taxi to buy it 55km from Bangui, and then sells it in Bangui PK5’s market. Like Hamidou, she says that ‘building houses has brought security’. Nevertheless, needs are still huge, whether for access to water, for education or training for young people.
“We are in the midst of a crisis and the whole world should think of us and help us, especially our children. They are life.”