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Crisis food insecurity persists in the Central African Republic

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • June 2014
Crisis food insecurity persists in the Central African Republic

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Nutritional Situation of CAR Refugees in Cameroon
  • Key Messages
    • Field preparation and crop planting and maintenance activities are under way for the current growing season under average to above-average rainfall conditions. However, the ongoing conflict is reducing households' access to fields and is forcing them to plant smaller areas in crops. This is likely to translate into below-average levels of crop production for the 2014/15 season.
    • Poor and displaced households in conflict areas also have fewer sources of income and food than usual, limiting their access to food through market purchases. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will persist until the next harvest in July in the south and October in the north, as households remain unable to meet their basic needs.
    • Recent data on CAR refugees in Cameroon shows critical levels of acute malnutrition and mortality rates that exceed emergency thresholds. These areas need emergency humanitarian assistance in order to reduce malnutrition rates and save lives.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • Below-average earnings from most income sources
    • Persistent below-average incomes will limit the food access of poor households
    • Limited access to fields and seeds, loss of draught animal power due to the slaughter and theft of animals, and fewer employment opportunities due to civil insecurity
    • Reduced growing area, with below-average 2014/15 crop production and agricultural wage incomes (June to September)
    • Civil insecurity impeding humanitarian operations
    • Civil insecurity will continue to hamper humanitarian programs across the country. This will limit the ability of international forces to deploy assistance.

    Ouham, Ouham Pendé, Kémo

    • Closure of the border with Chad due to ongoing conflict
    • Poorer than usual food availability on local markets
    • Limited staple food access for most poor households

     


    Projected Outlook through September 2014

    Repeated attacks, clashes between armed groups, and acts of violence continue in Bangui and in the northwestern and west-central reaches of the country (Ouham, Ouham Pendé, Kémo, and Ouaka) in a climate of crime and ethnic tensions, displacing a large portion of the population. According to OCHA estimates, there was an estimated 551,600 displaced persons in the country as of June 10th, concentrated largely in Bangui and Ouham. The civil conflict is restricting their movements and limiting their normal livelihood strategies.

    Satellite images (Figure 1) show average to above-average rainfall from April 1 to May 30 of this year throughout the country, except for the central region where rainfall was slightly to moderately below the five-year average, with no major impact on the growing season. These rainfall conditions will favor planting activities and crop growth (maize in the south and millet/sorghum in the north) in the country's production zones.

    However, the ongoing civil conflict will result in below-average 2014/15 crop production levels. Most farmers in conflict areas have limited access to their fields, are facing shortages of seeds and agricultural tools, and have lost draught animal power due to the slaughter and theft of animals. Although the FAO has provided seeds and agricultural tools for the current growing season to nearly 53,000 households, primarily in the most vulnerable areas of Ouham and Ouham Pende, households in conflict areas are still planting smaller areas in crops this year, which is likely to translate into below-average crop production levels.

    Households in conflict areas are maintaining their livelihood strategies, such as casual and farm labor and petty trade. However, their sources of income are more limited than usual and are not enabling them to earn enough to maintain adequate food access on local markets and meet their basic needs. However, in southern regions of the country (Sangha and Basse Kotto), where the security situation is more stable, the growing season is proceeding normally with the assistance of humanitarian organizations. Households in these areas are able to maintain their normal livelihoods and covering their basic needs.

    Normally, maize, cassava, and livestock flow from the CAR to Chad, while groundnuts, rice, and sesame flow from Chad to the CAR. However, with the closing of the border with Chad in May, trade flows of food supplies between Chad and the Central African Republic have stopped. This situation has caused groundnut prices on the markets in Bangui, Nana Mambere, Ouaka, and Ouham to jump by more than 20 percent between April and May. Generally, prices for other staple foods (maize and cassava) have remained stable or have increased seasonally (by up to 15 percent) at most markets during the same time period. Compared to last year’s levels (May 2013), cassava prices in Nana Gribizi rose 32 percent due to weak trade flows with other provinces amidst ongoing insecurity concerns. Meanwhile, prices fell 31 percent in Bangui due to a decline in demand with the weak purchasing power of local households and continuing humanitarian assistance programs for poor and displaced households.

    In May 2014, the WFP and its partners distributed 3,100 metric tons of food to 270,000 people throughout the country. However despite this ongoing humanitarian assistance, residual insecurity continues to limit normal livelihood strategies and household food access in conflict-affected area of Bangui and the northwestern and west-central regions of the country. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity will persist throughout the lean season, with households facing food consumption gaps and subsisting on a limited variety of foods (cassava leaves, tubers, and wild yams) due to their diminished purchasing power. However, the consumption of vegetables and other early crops in July in the south and in October in the north will help ease the severity of the crisis and reduce acute food insecurity levels to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However if this season’s crop production is below-average as expected, household food stocks will not last as long as usual (5 to 6 months). This would lead to an earlier and more severe lean season than normal and would limit poor households' access to staple foods in 2015.


    Nutritional Situation of CAR Refugees in Cameroon

    The current conflict in the CAR has pushed local populations to move to neighboring countries, including Chad, the DRC, and Cameroon. According to the WFP's June 10th update on the regional impact of the CAR crisis, 101,691 refugees have been registered in Cameroon since January 2014. A monitoring report by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in May indicates extremely high acute malnutrition and mortality rates among CAR refugees in eastern Cameroon. More specifically, MSF reports that, from May 12 to 18, 2014, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition (as measured by mid-upper arm circumference) among children six months to five years old in the Gado Badzere and Gbiti camps ranged from 41.5 to 44.9 percent and from 9.3 to 15.7 percent, respectively. Similarly, mortality rates among children under five ranged from 3.1 to 5.4 per 10,000 people per day, which exceeds emergency thresholds. These estimates indicate serious nutritional problems among these populations and suggest that emergency humanitarian assistance is needed in these areas of Cameroon in order to reduce malnutrition rates and save lives.

     

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly for the period from April 10 to May 30, 2014 compared to the 2008-2012 a

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly for the period from April 10 to May 30, 2014 compared to the 2008-2012 average

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Source:

    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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