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Civil insecurity sparks food crisis

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • January 2014
Civil insecurity sparks food crisis

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes, including food consumption deficits, are expected for more than 20 percent of the population in Bangui and in northwestern and west-central areas of the Central African Republic between now and June 2014.
    • As of January 16, 2014, OCHA estimates indicate that there are 902,000 IDPs in the CAR (representing 20 percent of the country’s total population), including 478,000 new IDPs in Bangui since December 5, 2013. Recent assessments have shown that these households are currently resorting to extreme survival strategies, such as skipping meals or selling productive assets, in order to access food.
    • For poor households who have not been displaced, their food stocks are depleting earlier than normal this year due to a poor 2013/14 harvest and problems with theft. As a result, the upcoming lean season will begin one to two months early and will be unusually difficult. In addition, the premature depletion of household food stocks will create a seed shortage for the upcoming growing season.
    • A number of humanitarian organizations are providing assistance, particularly for displaced populations in Bossangoa and Bangui. However, these organizations are reporting that security issues have disrupted supply pipelines for food assistance and have hindered distribution efforts.





    There are 902,000 IDPs in the CAR, which is equivalent to 20 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 (between July and October 2014, depending on the area).

    Cereal stocks for poor households are at below-average levels.

    The upcoming lean season will begin one to two months early and will be more difficult than usual. The start of the 2014/2015 growing season will be marred by a seed shortage.  

    Trade flows and market functioning have been disrupted.

    Market supply will be limited and will be at below-average levels. This could trigger unusually sharp price increases in localized areas.

    Civil insecurity is hindering the operations of humanitarian agencies.

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


    Projected outlook through June 2014

    Despite the appointment of a new interim President, there is continuing violence and civil insecurity across the Central African Republic, particularly in northwestern and west-central areas and in Bangui. As of January 16, 2014, OCHA estimates indicate that there are 902,000 displaced persons in the country, including over 478,000 IDPs in Bangui. Given that Central African Republic has a population of approximately 4.5 million people, IDPs represent an estimated 20 percent of the country’s total population. According to a Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) conducted in January of this year by the WFP, OCHA, and partners, most IDPs in Bangui are living in camps and shelters or with host families and are dependent on gifts, in-kind wages, bartering, and humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. Meanwhile, in the provinces, most IDPs are hiding out in the forest and are completely dependent on community assistance (gifts, etc.) from the local population.

    Civil insecurity was also a contributing factor to the poor 2013/14 harvest, which has had a negative impact on poor households who have not been displaced. Despite relatively normal rainfall, the growing season in the western half of the country, particularly in Mambéré-Kadeï, Lobaye, Ombella, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Kaga, Bandoro, and Sibut, was disrupted by population displacements, limited access to fields, and a lack of farm inputs. This below-average crop production, along with problems with theft, are causing an earlier than normal depletion of household food stocks. According to the MIRA, 60 percent of interviewed households had no food stocks in January and those with remaining stocks did not expect them to last more than two weeks to one month at most. Accordingly, this year’s lean season is expected to begin one to two months early and more difficult than normal. In addition, the start of the upcoming growing season will, most likely, be marred by a seed shortage, which could result in a below-average 2014/15 harvest. Disruptions to this year’s agricultural activities have also limited on-farm labor opportunities and incomes for poor households in rural areas.  

    Road harassments, the shutdown of warehouses, and acts of looting/theft are disrupting trade flows from Cameroon and surplus areas of the country to Bangui. As a result, market supplies are tighter than usual. This triggered unusually sharp price increases between November and December in Bangui, with hulled local rice prices increasing eight percent, cassava prices increasing 37 percent, peanut oil prices increasing 30 percent, and unshelled peanuts prices increasing 78 percent. The combined effects of these unusually high prices and below-average household incomes have eroded household purchasing power and have limited food access for poor households and DPs.

    The continuing instability is also hampering the operations of humanitarian organizations which, in turn, is heightening the vulnerability of affected populations to food insecurity.  The World Food Program (WFP), for example, is reporting that many of its trucks carrying food assistance from Cameroon to the Central African Republic have been held up at the border by check points and security problems. This has disrupted WFP’s food assistance pipeline and has forced it to suspend distributions of food assistance in certain areas, as well as cut the size of food rations.

    Acute food security outcomes for poor households are deteriorating as a result of the combined negative effects of the conflict on household food and income sources. According to the MIRA, many interviewed households have switched to cheaper foods and 90 percent of households have cut back their normal three meals a day to a single meal. In addition, most of the IDPs in Bangui interviewed in January 2014 as part of an IOM assessment reported that during the past two weeks, they had reduced the number of meals they consumed each day (91 percent), cut the size of their portions (86-91 percent), gone more than a day without eating (78 percent), and sold assets in order to buy food (54 percent). These types of strategies are heightening the risk of malnutrition in children under the age of five.

    IDPs and poor households in Bangui and in northwestern and west-central areas of the country are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity, including food consumption deficits and an accelerated depletion of household food assets, between now and the end of the outlook period in June. Well-targeted emergency assistance programs are needed to prevent food consumption deficits and restore household 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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