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The cost of the daily food basket doubles in the capital

  • Key Message Update
  • Central African Republic
  • May 2020
The cost of the daily food basket doubles in the capital

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In May, poor households in prefectures with a high presence of IDPs are facing difficulty meeting their minimum food needs during the lean season, though irregular food assistance may be helping to reduce food consumption gaps. Other populations who have food consumption gaps include poor households in areas where armed groups are active and poor households who are dependent on daily income in the informal sector in urban areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist in some eastern and northern prefectures, while a higher number of households are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Bangui and Bambari. In the west, center, and south, where households have better access to wild foods during the lean season and 2019/20 production was above average, high staple food prices are causing many households to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • As of May 28th, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed 755 cases of COVID-19, of which 731 are active. This rapid increase is mainly linked to cases imported by land from Cameroon, according to press releases from the MoH. To prevent this, the authorities have tightened movement restrictions by prohibiting the transport of passengers on the main road between Bangui and the border with Cameroon. According to key informants, REACH, and data available from the CAR Customs Office, the restrictions are exacerbating the slowdown in food commodity imports with negative repercussions for market supply in the capital and other prefectures. Social distancing restrictions are also impeding livelihood activities in the informal sector, though demand for motorbike taxis and masonry labor is still relatively normal and there is new demand for tailoring and marketing protective masks.

    • Insecurity in the north continues to disrupt the normal functioning of markets and household access to fields, particularly in Batangafo, Birao, Bria, Kaga-bandoro, and Ndélé sub-prefectures. In late April, for example, deadly clashes between two armed groups in the city of Ndélé caused more than 9,000 IDPs to be displaced to a MINUSCA compound. Tensions have resulted in restrictions on the movement of humanitarian organizations and constraints in the delivery of assistance. However, in the month of April, 3,680 people received food assistance in the localities of Mouka and Ouadda (Haut-Kotto prefecture) while 4,474 people in Kouango (Ouaka prefecture) and more than 10,000 people in Vakaga prefecture also received food assistance (OCHA, April 2020).

    • Low market supply and speculative behavior continues to drive high staple food prices across the country, especially in the urban centers of Bangui and Bambari. Nationwide, the average price for a bowl of corn, cassava, or sorghum rose about 50 percent in May compared to May 2019. The average price of a bowl of imported rice has risen by 76 percent. Compared to March before the pandemic, the short-term price increases are on average 11 percent for corn, 17 percent for cassava, 50 percent for sorghum, 20 percent for oil, and 70 percent for imported rice. Insecurity is also contributing to high prices in the prefecture of Bamingui-Bangoran, where staple food prices have doubled on the Ndélé market compared to last year. In contrast, staple food prices declined by 25 to 50 percent in the in Haute-Mbomou prefecture compared to May 2019, likely due to relative calm and more regular food assistance distributions.

    • Rising staple food prices significantly reduce the purchasing power of households, with negative effects on household food access. In Bangui, for example, key informants report that the cost of the daily food basket for a household of 4 people has doubled to approximately USD 4, compared to approximately USD 2 before the onset of the pandemic. Although poor households also collect some vegetables from their gardens, particularly in peri-urban areas, many are adopting negative consumption-based coping strategies such as reducing portion size or the number of daily meals. In rural areas, poor households are also able to collect fruits and wild foods such as mangoes, wild yams, and wild potatoes or hunt wildlife as alternative food sources, which is helping to prevent worse food security outcomes.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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