Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, ABA ROLI staff in the Central African Republic are Leading by Example

Like other international development organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to ABA ROLI’s field offices and staff. This bodes true for ABA ROLI’s field office in the Central African Republic (CAR). Our work in CAR seeks to increase citizens’ access to justice by providing legal aid, mediation, and psychosocial assistance to Central Africans. This includes deploying a mobile legal aid clinic once a month to areas of the country that have been severely affected by conflict. For example, in August 2019, we deployed the mobile clinic to Bangassou, a town in the southeast region of CAR that experienced intense rates of violence and displacement in 2017.

Immediately following the confirmation of the first case in the Central African Republic (CAR), our staffers in-country mobilized to combat the contamination and spread of the disease by taking preventative measures at the coordination level in Bangui and at our permanent legal clinics throughout the country.

Ives Nzoba, one of ABA ROLI's legal aid clinic drivers in CAR, demonstrates proper hand-washing at one of the hand-washing stations set up at a local office.

These preventive measures included installing sanitary kits in the coordination office and in legal clinics, placing hand washing stations at each office and requiring anyone entering the premises to use them, banning hand shaking, and asking people to be at least 1 meter apart from each other, whether colleagues or clients. 

Building on the approach taken by the Central African Government, WHO, and UNICEF, ABA ROLI senior staff in Bangui also decided to suspend field missions and activities that bring together a large number of people. During smaller activities, participants are required to respect the social distancing rules. Currently, the Country Director and the Operations Department continue to work to strengthen the implementation of the preventive measures mentioned above.

While respecting preventive measures, ABA ROLI staff is still working to serve the population.

Richard and Sonia, two of ABA ROLI's staffers in CAR, at work.

At the coordination level, we are maintaining contact with local partners. Thierry, the Institutional Support Officer, met with the judicial authorities; the heads of institutions such as the Judicial Training Institute, the Inspection General of Judicial Services; and civil society organizations; among others in order to plan a working strategy in the current context.

At the request of the Country Director, the heads of each department developed new activity schedules for the period from April to December 2020 that account for the current context.

At our permanent legal clinics, the lawyers, psychosocial workers, and field officers continue to receive clients in need of legal aid, mediation, and psychosocial assistance, and wear masks and gloves when interacting with each other and clients. The lawyers and psychosocial agents also continue following up on cases in judicial police units and courts.

Information on COVID-19 in the Central African Republic
  • On Wednesday, April 1 the Central African Government announced two new cases of coronavirus contamination (Covid-19), bringing the total number in the country to 8.
  • The statement highlights that the two infected people are residents of Bangui, confirming the existence of local transmission.
Some prevention information taken in the Central African Republic
  1. Wash your hands regularly with soap
  2. Avoid shaking hands
  3. Respect the 1 meter distance between people in the workplace or public
  4. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth without first washing your hands
Learn more about ABA ROLI's work in Africa.