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Crisis levels of food insecurity in the CAR

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • April 2013
Crisis levels of food insecurity in the CAR

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013

  • Preface

    The fall of government and ongoing civil insecurity in the Central African Republic are contributing to heightened levels of food insecurity across the country. Uncertainty with respect to future changes in conditions makes it difficult to predict the most likely trends in national food security outcomes. Thus, the following analysis assumes a continuation of the status quo and will be updated as new data is made available.

    Key Messages
    • An analysis of acute food insecurity for the month of April shows a deterioration in outcomes compared with the first quarter of the year due to poor food availability, difficulties ensuring market supplies, and disruptions to basic social services. Households in the central, northern, and eastern areas of the country will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the upcoming September harvests. 

    • Southern and western areas of the country saw an escalation in civil insecurity in March, along with population displacements, looting, and atypical food price increases. However, the December harvests in these areas were not impacted by civil insecurity to the same extent as in northern, central, and eastern areas. As a result, poor households in southern and western areas will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between now and September. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

     

     

     

     

    Areas affected by the conflict since December

    (Bamingui, Kemo, Haut Mbomou, MBomou, Basse Kotto, Ouaka, and Vakagua)

    • Market supplies are tighter than usual and staple food prices (ex. cassava and coarse grains) across the country are higher than at the same time last year.

     

    • Land preparation activities for the upcoming growing season, which normally begin in early March, have not yet started up.
    • Market supplies will remain low and food prices will continue to rise between now and the end of the lean season in September.

     

    • The start of the growing season in these areas will be delayed if not jeopardized. This could result in a below-average harvest in September.

     


    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Between December 2012 and March 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) dealt with an armed struggle between the SELEKA coalition and Central African Armed Forces (FACA), which ended with SELEKA seizing power in March. Due to wet weather conditions that delayed harvests in certain areas, households were still harvesting their crops in mid-December when civil insecurity escalated. Many households fled their farms and/or suffered damage or theft to crops still in the fields. As a result, household food stocks in conflict areas have depleted earlier than usual this year. In addition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are over 175,000 internally displaced persons within the CAR and more than 29,000 refugees in neighboring countries (Chad, DRC, Cameroon, and South Sudan) as a result of the conflict.

    Continuing insecurity is hampering humanitarian operations and the delivery of assistance to displaced populations in areas affected by the conflict since last December (Bamingui, Kemo, Haut Mbomou, MBomou, Basse Kotto, Ouaka, and Vakagua). Many humanitarian organizations have also suffered significant losses due to the looting of their warehouses, which could delay the resumption of humanitarian programs.

    During the past several months, income sources that usually enable very poor and poor households to maintain their food access have been less diversified than usual in areas affected by the conflict. The main source of cash income for poor households is currently limited to below-average levels of casual employment with either traders or a few wealthy households. Cotton sales are also normally an important source of household income in northern areas of the country although civil insecurity in these areas has prevented local households from selling their crops this year.

    Domestic food flows are relatively light and market supplies are still tighter than usual for this time of year. This is due to the unstable security situation and poor food availability caused by the below-average harvests in CAR's northern, eastern, and central areas, the main grain producing areas of the country. According to a joint assessment conducted in February 2013, the cost of a basket of food items in February of this year was 10 to 40 percent higher than last year, depending on the area. These price increases are making food commodities increasingly less accessible and affordable for poor households.

    One current challenge within the country has to do with the start-up of farming activities for the upcoming growing season. During a normal year, land preparations begin in early March. However this year, these activities have been delayed due to the effects of the conflict which have deprived households in northern, eastern, and central areas of the country of seeds and other farm inputs. Based on current conditions, the start of the growing season in these areas could be in jeopardy. In contrast, the growing season got off to a normal start in southern and western areas of the country less affected by the conflict, beginning with normal land preparation activities in March.

    Food insecurity continues to be an issue in many areas, marked by a heightened level of demand for food commodities due to the earlier than normal depletion of household food reserves, a slowdown in trade flows supplying markets, and a sharp, steady increase in food prices. The combination of these drivers and the deterioration in household purchasing power are contributing to a precarious food security situation. Households in the northern, central, and eastern regions of the country are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and will remain in this phase until the next round of harvests. In addition, households in southern and western areas less affected by the conflict will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the lean season due to instability relating to food access and security constraints that are preventing the efficient use of household livelihood assets.

    Harvests in September will improve food availability in the south and west and will provide wage incomes for farm laborers hired to bring in the crops, strengthening household purchasing power. This will enable poor households to meet their basic food and nonfood needs and be at Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.  On the other hand, with the delay in the start of the growing season in the northern and central-east areas of the country and the limited operation of humanitarian assistance programs in these areas, local households will only be able to meet their basic food needs and will be unable to cover any nonessential food expenses. Households in these areas will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in September.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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