Enhancing GbV Response Efforts in Central African Republic

Experiences from Tieba Nissi Traoré’s Deployment in CAR

As the Central African Republic (CAR) contends with a dire humanitarian crisis marked by wide-spread violence, massive displacements, and severe food insecurity, another concerning trend emerges: the escalating cases of Gender-based Violence (GbV). 

A woman crosses a bridge on March 11, 2021, in Bambari, Central African Republic. Violence in CAR has displaced more than 240,000 people since mid-December and it is estimated that 2.8 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance within the country – 57% of the population. (©Siegfried Modola/UNOCHA)

In 2023, GbV cases surged by 8%, labelled as "endemic" by the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS). According to the latest Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), an estimated 1.3 million people, roughly a quarter of the population, will require assistance in 2024 due to the rising gender-based violence (GBV). Tragically, approximately two individuals, predominantly women and girls, fall victim to GBV every hour (OCHA). 

To support the response efforts, enhance coordination among stakeholders, and refine local context analysis, in 2022, iMMAP Inc. Global Surge deployed Tieba Nissi Traoré, an Information Management Officer, to CAR's GbV Area of Responsibility with UNFPA. Returning from Bangui after a two-year deployment, Tieba sheds light on increased awareness of Information Management (IM) among humanitarian actors, current ground realities, and challenges regarding data privacy in handling GbV data. 

What were your main tasks during this assignment?

Tieba: My role, starting in March 2022, was to establish an IM system within CAR's GbV Area of Responsibility, which lacked structure. Considering the low competency and awareness levels regarding IM in CAR, I advocated for data exchange among ground partners to facilitate better understanding of the context, response levels, and Area of Responsibility performance. This required convincing partners to share more data. 

Did it work?

Yes, gradually partners began sharing more data. Eventually, we participated in the 2023 HNO, incorporating GbV data—a first for the Area of Responsibility in CAR. In the second year, we aimed to deepen our efforts by conducting secondary data reviews, pursuing primary data collection, developing data gathering tools, and enhancing the capacities of local actors and data collection focal points. 

Is working as an IMO for GbV specific?

Working as an IMO for GbV is quite specific. Before this assignment, I delved deep into researching the GbV sector and its jargon. For example, understanding the 16 Inter-Agency Minimum Standards for Gender-Based Violence is crucial for anyone in this field. These outline what partners engaged in GBV must accomplish to prevent and respond to GBV effectively. Familiarity with these standards helps us grasp the scope of our analysis and better understand the needs of our partners. 

And I guess you need to be extra careful when managing GbV data?

When handling GbV data, it's essential to recognize its sensitivity for survivors. Data privacy is paramount, and we strictly adhere to protocols to protect survivor identities. Each GbV case is anonymized with unique identifiers. For instance, the GbVIMS only provide statistics, not databases, to prevent anyone from tracing back to survivors. That's why we avoid sharing precise dates or specific details. As IMOs, while our goal is to coordinate and share data, we're always cautious about what we share and with whom, understanding the sensitivity surrounding GbV data. 

What is the situation in CAR currently – regarding GbV?

In 2024, an estimated 1.3 million people in CAR will require GbV assistance, a significant number given the country's population. It's noteworthy that GbV issues predated the humanitarian crisis, but subsequent events like coups worsened the situation. Additionally, factors like transhumance, while not directly tied to humanitarian crises, contribute to the risks. Even natural disasters, such as floods, can exacerbate GbV concerns. In cities like Bangui, situated on hills, floods lead to displacements, heightening protection risks. 

From the most recent figures available, GbV seems to be rising in the country…

There's a slight upward trend, but we need to interpret this cautiously. The data primarily reflect cases voluntarily reported by survivors, with potentially many more cases going unreported. Also, partner presence across the country varies – so we can easily imagine that there are many more survivors who did not declared their cases. 

What will you keep with you about this assignment?

My greatest impact was not just about implementing functional systems; it's about how my colleagues and partners embraced them. We successfully enhanced the skills of the sector in IM – and I hope these will continue to grow. 

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