The crisis in Central African Republic (CAR) is often framed in religious terms, with a ‘Muslim’ Seleka group seizing power in a majority Christian country in 2013, with ‘Christian’ militias called the ‘Anti-Balaka’ then rising up to counter this. However prior to the outbreak of violence in 2013, many communities in CAR lived peacefully together despite different religions. Given the religious tone of the current crisis, many organisations have attempted to restore this social cohesion through inter-faith interventions, including dialogue. However there is a lack of evidence and a deeper understanding of these issues which could better inform programming, including whether efforts to date have been successful and how they can be improved.
Questions to be explored
- What were the underlying drivers of the 2013 violence? Why did it take a religious overtone?
- What are the different interpretations of ‘social cohesion’ and how can we arrive at one common narrative?
- How does inter-faith work contribute to or hinder social cohesion?
- How can social cohesion work with inter-faith leaders be done better (by NGOs or other actors)?
Potential Target audience
Actors working on social cohesion and inter faith relations in CAR (INGOs, NGOs, UN, CBOs, Donors, Government, Inter-faith platform), for better understanding and programming.
Potential assessment method
- Desk review of key existing research documents on CAR’s context (anthropological and sociological);
- Key informants interviews (ie: traditional & religious leaders, local authorities, actors working in social cohesion, etc);
- Quantitative data collection;
- Field visits for key informant interviews & focus group discussions with IDPs, returnees and host community representatives.
A report and executive summary making the case for ongoing social cohesion work in CAR, and with practical recommendations for improving this type of programming. If the report is to be used with practitioners it needs a short version of no more than 6-8 pages.
The research could potentially pursue a grant through the Joint Learning Initiative on Local Faith communities or bilaterally through UK research councils, in order to remain objective of NGO partners working on this topic.
Authority & responsibility
The academic institution that ends up managing the research could utilise in-country partners such as World Vision to help facilitate research including interviews, visits to the field and other logistics.