As part of the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in Africa, the European Commission has decided to grant €54 million to the Central African Republic to help the government shore up public expenditure negatively affected by the fight against the virus.
European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: ‘The European Union has long stood alongside the Central African Republic to help the country overcome the crises it has suffered. This additional budgetary support aims to help the country address the socio-economic risks associated with the health crisis and contribute to the gradual restoration of State authority over the country, which is essential for the country’s economic and social development.’
Slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus means that the Central African government must use part of its resources for preventive health measures, which significantly increases pressure on public finances. The EU is therefore intervening with two budget support programmes going towards consolidating the State (€45 million) and reforming the security and governance sector (€9 million).
The new programme for consolidating the State (PACAE-RCA II) will consolidate economic governance in the Central African Republic and increase its fiscal space in 2020-21, by enhancing dialogue with the government in terms of the macroeconomic framework, public-finance reform, and the education and health sectors.
Budgetary strengthening under the ongoing Support Programme for Reforming the Security and Governance Sectors will ensure continued European support for a return to peace and security. It is in addition to the initial allocation of €38 million to meet the funding needs for national security and justice policies and gradually to redeploy and resize the Central African Republic’s domestic security forces and judiciary.
In order to get help to the government as quickly as possible, an advance disbursement of €23.5 million will be made in the coming weeks.
Other measures to support the COVID-19 response in the Central African Republic
This financial support is supplemented by an immediate reallocation of €6.5 million from ongoing European Development Fund (EDF) programmes and the Bêkou Trust Fund to help the water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector. Water fountains and water supply sources have already been built in Bangui and Paoua and the distribution of medical equipment and local production of masks have been stepped up (160,000 units).
On 8 May, the Central African Republic benefited from the first ‘Team Europe’ humanitarian air bridge bringing in health equipment and humanitarian staff to support the fight against the pandemic in the country.
The Central African Republic is trying to recover from the crisis it has been in since 2013. More than a year after the signing of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation between the Central African authorities and the 14 main armed groups in February 2019, the humanitarian situation remains particularly critical (25% of the population displaced, 63% in need of humanitarian assistance) and the security situation is still fragile.
The European Union is the Central African Republic’s leading partner from both a political and financial point of view. It has applied an integrated approach combining all the instruments at its disposal to support the country’s progress towards peace, stability, democracy and development.
The National Indicative Programme (NIP) for the Central African Republic, totalling €442 million from the 11th EDF, is in line with the National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding (RCPCA). The priority sectors are: (1) support for economic governance and social services, including education and health; (2) support for security sector reform and democratic governance; and (3) support for rural resilience and job creation. Support to civil society complements these three focal sectors.
The Central African Republic also benefits from the EU’s Bêkou Trust Fund, which was set up in 2014 and has been extended until December 2020. The Trust Fund totals €291 million. It is the only tool available to bridge the gap between the Central African Republic’s humanitarian and developmental needs. Most projects under the Fund focus on more remote parts of the country and on the fields of health, rural development, economic recovery and job creation, support for civil society and the media, reconciliation, social cohesion, and the return of displaced persons.
Source: European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations