Haven’t been writing for quite a long time. I have been sick, busy and culturally exhausted. Bangui is a very odd place. I still like it a lot but it exhausts me now and then.
As for work I do progress, I try to focus on different aspects that have affected the SSR process here with the intention to illuminate how come there has been so little progress. Although I haven’t done any proper analysis my first impression is that there are so many problems I don’t really know where to start. The cooperation between the donors is bad, there are several ongoing projects that do enter in the SSR sphere but yet they are not a part of the formal process, secondly there is no political will whatsoever. During the last weeks some of the donors together with national actors have tried to re-launch the process but it is blocked on highest political level. Thirdly, the question of local ownership is quite interesting in a context where there is such low capacity. Who to work with? One thing is sure though, the local actors (apart from the elite in Bangui) have been completely left out. Civil society has only been included to legitimize the process etc.
Furthermore, the amount of money that “disappears” is chocking. As some people from the international community have put it: “not a single project here works”. Well....
Another aspect that I think can explain the lack of effects from the SSR process is the almost complete lack of interest from the international actors here. In other places at least there is a genuine engagement, here you hear comments like, “we just try to keep the country from falling into complete anarchy and somalisation”. I love that engagement, to just keep the people from drowning, supporting leaders that don’t give a damn about the population and actually feed the corrupt system. If only the taxpayers in Europe would know. Millions of Euros have disappeared and when Brussels or the capitals are informed no one listens and there is no change. We just continue. I seriously think that the international presence here only makes things worse. It is not always the national actors that make disappear the money but equally some of the well known institutions of the international community.
I might have chosen one of the most extreme places when it comes to corruption and lack of progress. People here say that during the last two years the security has diminished, development has stalled and violation of human rights is on the increase.
I think the donors need to sit down and ask themselves what the objective of the engagement are, they need to evaluate what their engagement has generated and do so with critical self-reflection. It is easy to say that the Central Africans are corrupt but what about us? We feed the corruption and many of the international organisations here are equally corrupt. Tragic.
It is not all dark but it is a dark hole. Never ever land, never been land or just the dark side of the earth. The Central African Republic is “un trou noir du cul du monde”, forgotten lawless land and the people are suffering. It is a damn shame.