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Harvests in the south bolster food sources and income for poor households

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • August 2023
Harvests in the south bolster food sources and income for poor households

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook for January 2024
  • Key Messages
    • The agricultural lean season is typically marked by peak food demand and a rise in food prices. During the current lean season, the north of the country is experiencing a more pronounced increase in prices due to the Chad border closure. Throughout the country, food prices are high because of the increase in the price of petroleum products, which has an impact on transportation costs. Inflation in 2023 is high at around 6.4 percent, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). 
    • In the southern region, the availability of new maize, peanut, and cassava crops, along with the emergence of caterpillars since June, is bolstering food sources and income for poor households. Edible caterpillars gathered from the forest are a vital source of protein and income for over 85 percent of Central Africans during the collection season, which runs from June to September.
    • Despite the general trend toward stabilization of the security situation in the country, pockets of insecurity remain in several areas located mainly in the prefectures of Bamingui-Bangora, Haut-Mbomou, Ouham-Pende, and Vakaga. Due to insecurity, poor households in these areas have difficulty accessing sources of income and traditional livelihood strategies such as collecting wild food, making handicrafts, and selling game and other wild products. As a result, they are at risk of experiencing severe food shortages that could lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. 
    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar the Central African Republic

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current and Projected Anomalies

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    • Pockets of insecurity exist in various areas targeted by armed group attacks. Between August 6 and 8 of 2023, Haut-Mbomou was calm for several weeks until clashes between Union for Peace (UPC) rebels and "A Zandé Ani Kpi Gbé" militiamen resulted in the deaths of ten civilians. In addition, goods and people are unable to move about freely due to the persistent insecurity on main roads.
    • The price of food commodities and basic necessities has increased atypically in the north of the country (Birao, Ndele) due to the security crisis in Sudan and the closure of the Chad border, which is disrupting traditional supply chains from these countries.
    • Despite the security situation, which seems to be stabilizing throughout the country, civil insecurity will remain in certain areas, particularly in the prefectures of Bamingui-Bangora, Haut-Mbomou, Ouham-Pende, and Vakaga. Although the frequency of attacks is low during this winter period, they will continue to disrupt the accessibility and functioning of markets and basic social services, while limiting the movement of local populations. The level of conflict will decrease seasonally during the peak rainy season between August and September due to poor road conditions. 
    • The period from August to September corresponds to a period of very high flooding risks. The first ten days of August saw significant to very significant rainfall surpluses across almost all regions of the country, particularly in western, central, and northeastern regions. These conditions favor the occurrence of flooding in September, especially along rivers and in large cities such as Bangui. These floods generally lead to losses of crops, harvests, goods, production equipment, and even human lives and destroy critical infrastructure and roads, compromising the food security of victims in affected communities.

    Figure 1

    Figure 1: Seasonal rainfall totals for days 10-20 of August compared to the average throughout 1991-2020
    Average seasonal rainfall in August from 1991-2020. Darker green regions have seen more rainfall than the 30 year average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Projected Outlook for January 2024

    During the current agricultural lean season, there has been a decline in food accessibility, which has adversely affected food consumption and livelihoods of poor households impacted by flooding in the prefectures of Vakaga and Ouham. Additionally, poor communities exposed to violence by armed groups, particularly in the prefectures of Haute-Kotto, Ouham-Pende, Basse-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Mbomou, Ouham, and Bamingui-Bangoran, have also been negatively affected and are experiencing food consumption deficits. These households are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until the next harvest in October 2023. 

    The lean season will continue until September in the northern regions of the country. Poor households in these areas will continue to rely on markets and wild products, as well as needing to hunt for food. Agricultural maintenance work, which offers some employment and income opportunities, will enable them to cover part of their food and non-food expenses, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until September 2023.

    In southern, central, and western prefectures, household food consumption is improving thanks to the first harvests of maize, peanuts, and cassava. The emergence of caterpillars since July has bolstered food sources and income for poor households, bringing some relief. However, market access remains difficult due to poor road conditions that disrupt market supplies and high food commodity prices due to food price inflation. As a result, households in these areas are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.  

    The agricultural season in the south of the country starts in April and features well-distributed rainfall throughout the season and across the region. The first ten days of August saw higher-than-average rainfall across almost all regions in comparison to the 30 year average. There were particularly significant differences across the western, central, and northeastern regions (Figure 1). If the seasonal trend continues, food production can be expected to be higher than last year, particularly in secure areas where households would have had the opportunity to cultivate larger agricultural areas. On the other hand, in pockets of insecurity, particularly in the prefectures of Haut-Bomou and Haute-Kotto, households do not have the opportunity to access fields and carry out their income-generating activities normally because of the presence of armed forces. They will have significant production deficits during the period from October to January. Without food aid, they will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. 

    As of May 2023, OCHA reports that there are 474,822 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic. This represents a slight decrease of 3 percent compared to the previous month. The number of individuals who have returned is estimated to be 50,891, while there are 36,853 new IDPs. Some households are returning to their villages and neighborhoods due to the improved security situation and the desire to resume their daily activities. The prefectures of Vakaga, Basse-Kotto, and Ouham have reported the highest number of returns in May.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Central African Republic Remote Monitoring Update, August 2023: Harvests in the south bolster food sources and income for poor households, 2023. 

    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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