Cote d’Ivoire: Working towards recovery

28 Sep 2011

Internally Displaced Persons in Côte d'Ivoire. Internally Displaced Persons in Côte d'Ivoire. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Since re-opening the UNDP office in Côte d’Ivoire some four months ago, we have been working together with NGOs along the western border with Liberia, assisting recently-returned internally displaced people who had moved following a political crisis triggered by the disputed December 2010 election.

More than 20,000 people now have better access to water through rehabilitated water pumps and water treatment of 100 wells. Almost 5,000 youth are engaged in some UNDP-supported income-generating activity related to agricultural processing, small trading initiatives, among others.

In addition to reintegrating hundreds of thousands of displaced people, Ivoirians face other urgent challenges, including rebuilding trust among the population, and restoring security and rule of law. The economy, historically one of West Africa’s strongest, was also disrupted.

The government, the UN and other local partners cannot do it alone, and the gaps are huge. As of 22 September, the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries affected by the crisis is funded at 28 per cent with some US$81 million contributed against a total requirement of US$ 291 million.

Going forward UNDP’s main focus will be to support the government to restore security and institutions of governance, and find ways to generate jobs for the country’s millions of young people, in cities and in the countryside.

We will also focus on conflict prevention and management at the local level, as part of a strategy for socio-economic rehabilitation of grassroots communities—restoring and rebuilding the police and security sector, and facilitating access to justice.

People say that “when Côte d’Ivoire coughs the whole sub-region falls ill,” meaning that whether things go right or wrong, what happens here will have a broad ripple effect in human, economic, and security-related terms.

So the stakes are high and the challenges are great.

Years of crisis have slowed progress on the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals. The poverty rate has increased from 38.4 percent in 2002 to 48.9 percent in 2008—and the target for 2015 was 16 percent. Child mortality is falling, but not quickly enough, and malaria remains a leading cause.

Deforestation is alarmingly high. Forest cover has declined from 16 million acres in the 1960s to approximately 3 million acres now.

Yet the potential here is also significant.

Côte d'Ivoire is the world’s top exporter of cocoa and Africa’s leading supplier of raw cashew nuts. It is a trade transit route for landlocked neighbors and a net exporter of oil with a significant manufacturing sector.

Ivoirians are already getting back on their feet, and the international community must remain engaged at this critical time.

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