The Bangui National Forum of May 2015 recommended the creation of “Local Committees of Peace and Reconciliation” (CLPR) by the national political authorities throughout the Central African Republic (CAR). The objectives assigned to these highly decentralized committees was to include and actively involve communities and citizens at the grassroots in the promotion of permanent dialogue deemed necessary for the establishment of peace, conflict prevention, and mediation need to facilitate the return of internally displaced persons and refugees. The creation of the CLPR was formally endorsed by the President of the Republic on December 21, 2016 through the establishment of 12 CLPR in the eight (8) districts of the city of Bangui and its periphery communes of Bégoua and Bimbo.
The implementation of the USAID PRADD II project in the south-west mining regions of the Central African Republic was also part of this constructive approach to peace and social cohesion recommended by the Bangui National Forum. Through close collaboration with the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation, PRADD II helped to set up in October / November 2017 6 CLPR and 6 Kimberley Process Local Monitoring Committees (ALS), the later under the supervision of Monitoring Committee Antennas (CLS) of the Kimberley Process in compliant communes of the Berberati prefecture. The intent of the Ministry of Mines and Geology (MMG) in supporting social cohesion was to restore the legal diamond chain in Berberati. To this end, the PRADD II project made a commitment to the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation (MAHRN) to implement its policy of promoting social cohesion. The ministry was assisted by PRADD II to set up CLPRs in six communes. Subsequently, the project funded training for members of these local structures. A kit consisting of megaphones, office supplies, caps, t-shirts, streamers was provided to each CLPR.
During the period from 2017 to 2019, CLPRs and ALS served as a springboard for the development of multiple activities around prevention, mediation and conflict resolution. The organization of the community dialogues led to the signing of Local Pacts for Peace and Social Cohesion in the Berberati compliant zone. The process of negotiating these Local Pacts mobilized around 600 community leaders.
The present evaluation reports on the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of these two local structures supported by PRADD II from 2017-2019. This evaluation was done in the framework of the 2018-2019 USAID AMPR Work Plan and specifically activity 2.1.1 “Evaluating the Peace and Reconciliation Committees.” As noted in the workplan,
The evaluation methodology brought together CLPRs and ALS in their home localities for two days each to garner their perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of these structures. Guided discussions were led by staff of the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation and the AMPR project. One of the main objectives pursued in conducting the CLPR and ALS evaluations was to gather lessons about the CLPR and ALS performance, the impact of their respective missions, the constraints encountered in carrying out their respective mandates, and particularly the needs for future support.
Certainly, in any evaluation there are gaps. In this case, the evaluation could not invest the time and the financial means to integrate into the study the perspectives of all the social strata of the villagers affected by the initiatives taken by the CLPR and ALS. We do not yet know yet how different social categories perceive the strengths and weaknesses of CLPRs and ALS. Due to the fact that this diagnosis was made prior to the approval of the AMPR Work Plan and that it occurred during the extended closure of the US government in early 2019, this gap at some point needs to be filled through a more rigorous, but expensive impact evaluation looking at the viewpoints of the local populations. Yet, with the hope of identifying project implementation priorities, AMPR preferred to generate preliminary indications of programmatic orientations in order to better guide project implementation.
The results of this evaluation show that the CLPR and the ALPR play a key role in resolving conflicts at the local level. While it is sometimes difficult to assign direct causality to the actions of these two institutions and the reduction of conflicts, the fact that the committee members themselves view this as a positive attribute is good. The evaluation raises the pressing issue of how the government will support the recurrent costs of these institutional structures. However small the recurrent costs may be, the committees lack the funds to cover even the most basic costs. Unfortunately, the successes the committees achieve in resolving conflicts are not reported to the central government due to the weak administrative linkages between remote villages and the capital city of Bangui. Over time, the volunteers serving on these committees may become discouraged and disillusioned unless motivation is maintained through social recognition or some form of compensation, be it monetary or through skill-building. While this evaluation raises these thorny questions, it is clear that the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation will replicate the CLPR throughout the country. Yet, for these structures to become sustainable over time, some sort of direct cost recovery is required at the local level, a subject of deep interest to the AMPR project through its initiatives to support decentralized revenue management in diamond mining communities.
The USAID AMPR project organized a restitution workshop on March 1, 2019 under the tutelage of the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation. During this workshop with the representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Geology, the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation, and the Ministry of Livestock and Animal Health, the representatives approved the recommendations and conclusions of this evaluation but also proposed new agendas. Participants were especially concerned about the emergence of “armed” pastoralism, or transhumance movements of well-equipped pastoralists equipped with sophisticated weapons.
The mission wishes to express its sincere thanks to all the members of the CLPR and ALS who were kind enough to lend themselves to the various evaluation sessions that took place in the 6 pilot sites from 30 January to 12 February 2019.