The COVID-19 pandemic reaches the Central African Republic (CAR) just when citizens were passing milestones for ending the country's conflicts through a peace agreement and national elections. A new rebellion broke out in late 2020 that hindered medical access to some of the most impoverished areas. An interplay of rebellion, elections and containing the pandemic have become the critical triangle deciding whether CAR can overcome its deep-seated patterns of governance that are stifling political and economic progress.
In how far has the COVID-19 pandemic deepened or ruptured CAR’s governance patterns?
It lies in the nature of the deep-seated patterns of governance – outsourced politics, a plurality of violence and peripheral neglect – that research on the CAR even more than in other countries depends on gaining insights from beyond the capital. We will thus use the security arena concept to study changing current patterns of governance on the local level. The security arena is foremost a conceptual tool for comparison, keeping assumptions to a minimum, while drawing on only a few dimensions for meaningful comparison. The security arena is broadly reduced to two relational dimensions – actors and their interactions – around a spatial dimension and thereby grants common lines for comparison across contexts.
To study changing patterns of governance during the pandemic on a national level we conduct telephone interviews with key stakeholders from government, the UN mission, NGOs, and civil society. On a local level we use our well-established networks to collect data remotely (and if the pandemic permits, in person) in two peripheral localities and the capital.