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Continuing food crisis due to persistent civil insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • February 2014
Continuing food crisis due to persistent civil insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • The combined effects of an early depletion of household food stocks, below-average incomes, market disruptions, and population displacements are limiting household food access. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity, including food consumption gaps, continue in Bangui and in the northwest and west-central regions.
    • Due to the significant levels of food insecurity in conflict-affected areas, poor households are resorting to extreme survival strategies, including skipping meals and selling assets to access food. Appropriate and well-targeted emergency assistance is necessary in these zones to reduce food insecurity and prevent an increase in acute malnutrition.





    There are 701,500 IDPs in the CAR, which is equivalent to 16 percent of the country’s total population.

    Many IDPs will be at least partially dependent on humanitarian assistance until the beginning of the next harvest (ranging from July to October 2014, depending on the area).

    The grain stocks of poor households are at below-average levels.

    The upcoming lean season will begin early (by February/March instead of April/May as in a normal year) and will be more difficult than usual.

    Departure of certain wholesale traders and disruptions to normal trade flows.

    Tighter than usual market supplies and a likely rise in prices, particularly for imported foodstuffs.

    Land preparation activities that normally begin in February have not yet started up.

    The start of the upcoming 2014/2015 growing season will be marred by a seed shortage. In addition, disruptions to this year’s farming activities will limit on-farm employment opportunities and wage incomes for poor households in rural areas.

    Civil insecurity is impeding humanitarian assistance programs.

    Civil security issues will continue to hamper humanitarian assistance programs across the country.


    Projected outlook through June 2014

    With the continuation of conflict in the Central African Republic, thousands of people are still displaced from their homes in Bangui and the northwest, exposing them to attacks by anti-balaka and Seleka militias. Based on the Population Movement Commission’s estimates as of February 25, 2014, there are 701,500 displaced persons in the CAR, representing approximately 16 percent of the country‘s total population and including more than 276,500 IDPs in Bangui. This is complicating the food access of displaced households which, according to a Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) conducted in January 2014 by the WFP, OCHA, and other partners, are currently relying on gifts, in-kind wages, bartering, and humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.

    Moreover, poor households which have not been displaced are adversely affected by below-average 2013/14 crop production levels, caused by civil insecurity during the last growing season. Due to these production shortfalls, households have depleted their food stocks earlier than normal, in January/February this year compared to March/April in a normal year. Consequently, this year’s lean season is expected to begin one to two months prematurely and be more difficult than usual.

    Humanitarian organizations currently working in the CAR are reporting that agricultural households do not have enough seeds for the upcoming growing season. In addition, land preparation activities that normally begin in February have still not started up due to persistent civil security threats. Continued disruptions to agricultural activities over the coming months will translate into below-average on-farm employment opportunities and wage incomes for poor households in rural areas.

    According to the ACF (Action Against Hunger) Surveillance Bulletin for February 2014, persistent civil security threats have prompted large-scale traders specializing in food imports and exports to leave the country. This has disrupted the normal supply chain and has severely limited market supplies, which are currently at below-average levels. However, January prices for staple foods such as cassava, maize, and groundnuts in Bangui were stable or up slightly from December, in line with normal seasonal trends. Likewise, the weak purchasing power of government workers (net rice consumers) caused by five months of back pay, along with an influx of newly harvested crops from the rice-producing area of Lobaye, caused February rice prices to decline on markets in Bangui. Prices for local hulled rice and paddy rice showed the sharpest declines compared with last month’s levels, at 15 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

    Food assistance distributions continue but are periodically disrupted by sporadic violence and attacks. Until recently, WFP trucks were being held up at the country’s border with Cameroon, disrupting supply pipelines for food assistance programs and prompting the WFP to cut the size of food rations. However, military escorts for these trucks between the Cameroonian border and Bangui, along with airlifts, have improve supply levels in recent weeks. This should help maintain ration sizes and current food distribution programs for IDPs.

    The continuing conflict is adversely affecting food and income sources for poor households and IDPs by disrupting farming activities and limiting agricultural labor opportunities and wage incomes. Many households have downsized the area of land that they are cultivating, which will adversely affect the upcoming growing season. In addition, other activities such as petty trade and terminal fattening activities for small ruminants, are generating below-average incomes and are preventing affected households from fully meeting their food needs. According to the MIRA, many households have implemented atypical coping strategies, such as switching to less expensive foods and, for 90% of interviewed households, cutting the portion size of meals. Furthermore, according to an IOM, 54 percent of IDPs in Bangui interviewed for an assessment in January 2014 had sold household assets in order to buy food.

    IDPs and poor households in Bangui and in northwestern and west-central areas of the country will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity, including food consumption gaps and an accelerated depletion of livelihood assets, through at least June 2014. Below-average levels of food and income during this period will continue to weaken the purchasing power of poor households, limiting their access to adequate amounts of wholesome food. In addition, the nutritional situation remains critical with a high risk of child malnutrition. Continued, well-targeted emergency assistance is needed to reduce food consumption deficits and mitigate losses to livelihoods. 

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 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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