Accepted paper:

Urban governance and the humanitarian apparatus in the Cameroon - Central African republic border


Martial Massike Loke (Ministry of Secondary Education)
Jose-Maria Munoz (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Central African Republic, Seleka, insecurity, housing, food, newcomers, Cameroon, Garoua Boulai.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, the disruptive effects of armed conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) have been felt in the country's western borders with Cameroon. The irruption of Seleka rebellion in December 2012, the surge of the anti-balaka militias and the ousting of Seleka from the central government in January 2014 have intensified the long-term insecurity that has marked cross-border relations. New waves of refugees have since then joined earlier Central African refugee communities. This paper focuses on the transformations experienced by the town on the Cameroonian side of border at one of the main crossing points for people and goods between the two countries: Garoua Boulaï. In this humanitarian hotspot, the provision of housing, food, health and education for the newcomers has required a humanitarian response, including the creation of a camp near town and several other camps in the area. The peak of the crisis also entailed a boom of commercial activity, a steep rise in the cost of living, and increased competition for urban land. Garoua Boulaï has in this period also strengthened its role as a hub in the Douala-Bangui transport corridor. Based on sustained ethnographic fieldwork over the last decade, my paper gives attention to the effects on urban dynamics of the ongoing investment in infrastructure (the municipal lorry parking yard, warehouses, a new border market, a one-stop-border post) and the arrival of new institutional actors, humanitarian and non-humanitarian alike, and their engagement with existing actors in a context of fragmented public authority.

panel Anth05
Conflict urbanisation and urbanity in Africa