EU launches first-ever development fund for CAR
The European Commission has announced a fund to link relief, rehabilitation and development in the Central African Republic, an initiative which will be financed by France, Germany, the Netherlands and private donors. EurActiv France reports.
The Central African Republic (CAR) will receive more financial aid from the European Commission and several EU member states.
At an informal meeting of EU ministers for international development in Florence on 14 July, the French Secretary of State for Development, Annick Girardin, the German Minister for Development and Cooperation, Gerd Müller, and the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, announced a new fund called “Bêkou”, in which their countries can pool financial resources and better manage the ongoing crisis in CAR.
“Hope” in Sango
“The Bêkou Fund, [which means "hope" in Sango, the country’s main language], was created to supply people with crucial services [such as water and sanitation, food, and healthcare] and revive economic growth as soon as the security situation allows it. […] The fund will also finance activities in bordering countries which were affected by the crisis,” said Annick Girardin.
The ministers used the occasion to discuss the sustainable development agenda after 2015, the role of the private sector in development and food safety.
The European fund already has access to €64m for 2014 and 2015, most of which, €41 million, comes from the European Commission. France, who called for the project in the first place, will supply €10 million, the same as Germany.
The Netherlands have also confirmed their participation, and are expected to donate approximately €3 million.
In order to capitalise the fund, the participants are relying on contributions from other EU member states, but also foundations, which will be given the opportunity to participate at a donor conference before the end of 2014.
“It is open to member states and all other funders that want to draw on the expertise of the European development aid system. This fund, which will finance economic and social development projects […] is open to contributions from those who want to help stabilise and reconstruct the CAR,” said Anne Paugam, head of the French Development Agency (AFD).
“Acting together, combining our funds, our expertise and respective strengths will allow us to achieve much more than working separately. I am particularly grateful that the French, (the) German and Dutch governments have decided to establish this innovative fund with the Commission and invite other donors from the EU and the international community to join us," said EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
This European trust fund – the first of its kind – will adapt international development aid to crisis or post-crisis situations, “where experience has shown that the weakness of the national or local administrations combined with a sudden increase in the number of donors leads to disorganisation and a fragmentation of the response of the international community".
France from the get-go
France, which called for the European reconstruction fund, has been heavily involved in CAR since the start of the crisis. In November 2013, French troops were deployed in the country, in order to quell the violence.
During the European Council on Security on 19 and 20 December, François Hollande convinced his European counterparts to back France’s intervention with financial, logistical and human resources.
One of the world’s least developed countries, the CAR gained independence from France in 1960 but has been hit by coups, foreign interventions and instability.
In 2012, the Muslim Seleka alliance seized power, ousting President Francois Bozize, and sparked a descent into violence. Thousands died and hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians fled, as the Seleka were themselves overthrown by Christian anti-Balak forces.
The UN and other international institutions have warned of a high risk of genocide exists in the CAR. EU countries have agreed to send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilise the country.