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Food insecurity continues in areas affected by the political/military crisis

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • August 2013
Food insecurity continues in areas affected by the political/military crisis

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • At the height of the lean season, household food security in conflict-affected areas in the northern, eastern, and central reaches of the country is marked by poor food access and the premature depletion of food reserves. Households in these areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September.

    • Supplies of early crops (maize and peanuts) and wild vegetables have helped diversify local food sources for households in the southern and western parts of the country, improving food security in these areas. However, households unable to effectively use their livelihood assets due to insecurity will continue to face Stressed food security conditions (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    • With the replenishment of food stocks from upcoming harvests, households in the southern and western parts of the country will face only Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between September and December. However, harvests in areas hit especially hard by the conflict in the northern, eastern, and central parts of the country will be delayed and below-average, where local households will continue to face Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2).

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    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Areas affected by the crisis since December (Bamingui, Kemo, Haut Mbomou, Mbomou, Basse Kotto, Ouaka, and Vakagua)

    • Delay in planting, which normally begins in the middle of May, with the last crops planted in mid-July
    • Households will harvest their crops one to two months later than usual and production levels will be below-average. As a result, the lean season will end later than usual (in September instead of August).

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    In the aftermath of the ineffective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process, security in the capital of Bangui is deteriorating, with reports of armed fighting and population displacement. Likewise, conditions in the interior are tense, with sporadic crime waves in localized areas and continuing reports of brief, small-scale population displacements in the provinces. Some displaced persons will not return to their villages and are living in precarious conditions. According to the OCHA Situation Report dated August 23, 2013, there are still approximately 225,000 internally displaced persons within the country. Access to basic social services (health, sanitation, and water supply services) is a continuing challenge for households in northern and north-central areas of the country (such as Bossangoa and Kaga-Bandoro). In spite of unstable security, certain humanitarian organizations (Action Against Hunger, Doctors Without Borders, Mercy Corps, COOPI, the Red Cross, etc.) are continuing to provide assistance to at-risk populations in their respective service areas.

    Acute food insecurity hinges on the security situation. The highest levels of food insecurity are in the northern, eastern, and central reaches of the country, where the ongoing conflict since December/January has caused local households to lose a large part of their livelihood assets (livestock, farm implements, seeds, last year’s standing crops).

    Insecurity continues to inhibit access to regular sources of household income. The below-normal level of economic activity in most parts of the country is limiting income-earning opportunities from craft-making, wage labor, and small-scale trading. In addition, according to a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) assessment of conditions in Sangha Mbaéré by Action Against Hunger (ACF), a recently imposed embargo on diamond exports by the Central African Republic due to the security situation has disrupted the diamond trade and caused prices to plunge from 200,000 CFAF/carat in 2012 to between 60,000 and 70,000 CFAF. This has reduced the incomes of households reliant on this industry.

    Market activity is are slowly picking up, but stocks in the central and northern reaches of the country are below-average. The stocks in these areas, which are already low due to the security situation, are tightening even further as the lean season (from March to September) continues. The shortage of food supplies on markets in the city of Markounda, for example, (in the far north) has been forcing local residents to travel longer than usual distances in search of food. These shortages have been driving up prices. This year, a can of cassava which, normally sells for 1500 CFAF in late July or early August was selling for 2500 CFAF in Bambari, in the central part of the country.

    Satellite imagery of the Central African Republic shows normal to above-normal levels of cumulative rainfall and an average NDVI. In addition, rainfall outlooks (by the ECMWF, IRI, and NOAA) show no major rainfall anomalies. However, harvest forecasts for the 2013-2014 growing season from the  joint rapid food security assessment (by the FAO, the WFP, and other partners) in May indicate mixed results, with poor harvests in northern areas and relatively good harvests farther south. The expected poor harvests in the north are attributable to the late start-of-season in this part of the country due to the losses of farm inputs (seeds and equipment) by local farmers and the security problems sharply limiting access to their fields. Thus, harvests in areas where the growing season got off to a late start will be below-average, and the lean season will end a month later than usual (in September instead of August).

    Food security in most parts of the country has deteriorated since the second quarter of the year due to the combined effects of the lean season and civil insecurity. The deterioration of conditions in the northern and central reaches of the country is most notable, where household food reserves were depleted earlier than usual and food access by local households is increasingly problematic at the height of the lean season and uncertainty over future security developments. The joint rapid food security assessment by the FAO, WFP, and other partners in these areas in May showed most households eating only one meal a day. The local diet is basically limited to wild plant foods and, to a lesser extent, cassava and, from time to time, pulses. Continuing poor food access throughout the lean season could weaken household nutritional status. Food assistance has somewhat mitigated access constraints, but the size of distributed rations did not appreciably offset household food gaps. As a result, according to the assessment of acute food insecurity levels, households in these areas are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). On the other hand, food security is improving in the southern part of the country, where green harvests (maize and peanuts) and the availability of wild vegetables are bolstering household food security. However, the below-average levels of income in these areas are creating financial hardships for local households, subsequently limiting food access. They have scaled back their food consumption to minimally adequate levels and are unable to cover the cost of certain essential non-food expenditures. Acute food insecurity in these areas is Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    With crops from upcoming harvests improving food availability in the southern and western parts of the country and income from farm labor during the harvest season strengthening purchasing power, poor households in most parts of the country will be able to meet their basic food and nonfood needs between September and December and, thus, will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). However, harvests in the northern and central-eastern reaches of the country will be below-average due to the late start of the growing season and the limited volume of assistance from the humanitarian community. Households in these areas will be able to meet their basic food needs but will be unable to cover the cost of essential non-food spending without resorting to irreversible coping strategies, and will face IPC Phase 2 Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2).

    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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