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Problems with food insecurity continue as lean season peaks

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • July 2013
Problems with food insecurity continue as lean season peaks

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Due to poor food availability and reduced income levels, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity will continue until the end of the lean season (in September) for northern, eastern, and central, conflict-affected areas. 

    • With the definitive start-of-season in the south and west, poor households are consuming wild and cultivated vegetables, which have improved food security conditions in these areas. However, due to an unstable security situation, households have not been able to make effective use of their livelihood assets and will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes through September. 

    • The September harvests will enable households in most areas of the country to access food through their own crop production. However in certain areas of northern, eastern, and central CAR, harvests are expected to be delayed and below-average. Consequently, households in these areas will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between October and December. 




    Areas affected by the conflict since December

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

    • Planting activities, which normally take place in mid-May, were delayed with the last crops planted in mid-July.
    • Households are expected to harvest crops one to two months later than normal, with below-average production levels. As a result, the lean season will end later than usual (in September instead of August).

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Security conditions within the Central African Republic continue to foster a climate of uncertainty. Acts of theft and looting are, once again, on the rise in all parts of the country. This failure to permanently restore stability will continue to impede the efforts of humanitarian relief workers and will heighten the vulnerability of affected populations. The humanitarian community has expressed concerns over the lack of essential security guarantees for the delivery of assistance. Nevertheless, 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 within their respective service areas.

    The combined effects of conflict and the lean season—normally occurring between April and September, depending on the area—have increased acute food insecurity in the CAR. The highest levels of food insecurity have been observed in northern, eastern, and central parts of the country, where ongoing conflict since December/January has caused households to leave their homes and lose a portion of their crops still in the fields, as well as other livelihood assets, to acts of looting, vandalism, and theft. While many households have since returned to their villages, there are still approximately 206,000 IDPS within the country, according to OCHA's July 17, 2013 Situation Report.

    The civil insecurity in the northern, eastern, and central areas of the country extended southwards beginning in March, although the conflict’s effects on food security in the south was somewhat less severe, as the 2012/13 harvest was not disrupted as it was in the north. Though information on food security conditions in the southeast has been extremely limited, 20 deaths related to LRA violence was reported by OCHA during the second quarter of the year, mostly in the Haute-Kotto region.

    The unstable security situation and resulting below-average levels of economic activity have limited household access to normal income sources, such as craft, wage labor, and petty trade activities. In addition, according to an Action Against Hunger (ACF) Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) assessment of conditions in Sangha Mbaéré, a recently imposed embargo on diamond exports, due to the country’s security situation, has disrupted the diamond industry and has caused diamond prices to plunge from 200,000 FCFA/carat in 2012 to between 60,000 and 70,000 FCFA more recently. This has reduced income levels for households who are active in this industry.

    Markets are slowly starting back up, but supplies vary from one region to another due to the highly unstable security situation. In addition, the return of displaced populations is putting more pressure on demand, driving it above normal seasonal levels. A spatial analysis of current grain prices, compared with May 2013 levels, shows different price trends depending on the region and commodity in question. For example, maize and pearl millet prices in Ouham increased 10 and 22 percent, respectively. Likewise, maize prices in Kemo increased 17 percent. On the other hand, prices in Bangui, the country’s capital, have generally been stable as traders begin to destock inventories that they held onto earlier in the year due to looting problems.                                                                            

    Satellite imagery of Central African Republic indicates normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall levels and an average NDVI. Moreover, forecasts for the rainy season (by the ECMWF, IRI, and NOAA) show no major anomalies. However, projections for the 2013-2014 growing season, created by the FAO, WFP, and partners as part of a joint food security assessment in May, indicate mixed results with poor harvest expected in the north and relatively good harvests anticipated further south. The projections for a poor harvest in the north is explained by the late start-of-season, due to farmers losing many of their farm inputs (seeds and equipment) during the conflict, and continued civil insecurity that has limited farmers’ access to their fields.

    Food insecurity, in general, continues to be a source of concern for the CAR. The situation in northern and central areas of the country has been critical due to local market disruptions and the looting of food stocks. According to the joint rapid food security assessment conducted by the FAO, WFP and other partners in May, most households were consuming only one meal per day, with their diets essentially limited to cassava and pulses. The deterioration in food availability and food access, as well as the reduction in household income levels, will continue to undermine food security conditions throughout the lean season. Consequently, FEWS NET’s analysis of current food insecurity indicates that these regions are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). On the other hand, the definitive start-of-season in the south has enabled households to consume cultivated and wild vegetables. This, coupled with more stable security conditions, has helped ease the severity of the crisis, although continued security threats are still prevented local households from making effective use of their livelihood assets (livestock, land, etc.). In southern areas, poor households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.

    The upcoming harvest will improve food availability in southern and western parts of the country. In addition, agricultural wage income during the harvest will strengthen household purchasing power. This will enable poor households in most areas of the country to be able to meet their basic food and nonfood needs between September and December and face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. However in northern and east-central areas, where the start of the growing season was delayed and humanitarian assistance has been limited, harvests are expected to be below-average. Households in these areas will be able to meet their basic food needs but will be unable to meet nonessential food expenditures. In these areas, households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity between September and December. 

    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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