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Food crisis looms in the Central African Republic

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • March 2013
Food crisis looms in the Central African Republic

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013

  • Preface

    The fall of government and ongoing civil insecurity in the Central African Republic are contributing to heightened levels of food insecurity across the country. Uncertainty with respect to future changes in conditions makes it difficult to predict the most likely trends in national food security outcomes. Thus, the following analysis assumes a continuation of the status quo and will be updated as new data is made available.

    Key Messages
    • In areas that have been occupied by SELEKA over the past few months, several drivers of food security outcomes are: below-average food stock and income levels, major population displacements, market disruptions, and limited humanitarian assistance. Poor households in these areas are dealing with food shortages and are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    • In other areas of the country, market supplies are limited due to disruptions to market activities and domestic trade flows. As a result, the price of a basket of food items has increased 40 percent compared to the same time last year. This has reduced food access for poor households, and households in these areas are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

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    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

     

     

     

    Areas affected by the civil insecurity since December

    • Household food stocks are lower than usual for this time of the year. As a result, this year’s lean season has begun in March, one month earlier than normal.
    • Market supplies are tighter than usual, causing staple food prices to increase across the country compared to the same time last year. 

     

    • Land preparation activities for the upcoming growing season, which normally begins in early March, have not started.
    • Households in the north will experience difficulties with food security during the lean season (March through September).

     

    • Market food supplies will remain low for this time of year, and food prices will continue to rise between now and the end of the lean season.
    • The start of the growing season in these areas will be delayed.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    The Central African Republic has been dealing with an armed struggle between the SELEKA rebel coalition and Central African Armed Forces (FACA) since December 2012.  Clashes between these two groups have forced the populations of certain areas, such as Bamingui, Kemo, Haut Mbomou, MBomou, Basse Kotto, Ouaka, and Vakagu, to leave their homes and abandon their food stocks and other livelihood assets. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were over 175,000 internally displaced persons in the CAR and more than 29,000 CAR refugees in Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as of February 28, 2013.

    Household cereal availability in March is low or nonexistent, depending on the area of the country. Food stocks depleted approximately one month earlier than usual and very poor and poor households are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their food access.

    According to a joint assessment conducted in February 2013, market supplies in conflict-affected areas were lower than normal due to poor food availability caused by the disruption of last season's harvests. This is making food increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable for poor households. Furthermore, domestic food flows from SELEKA-occupied areas to Bangui and western areas of the country has been relatively light due to the disruption of road travel caused by crime and road blocks. The cost of a basket of food items in SELEKA-occupied areas in February 2013 was 10 percent higher than last year. The same upward trend in prices is being reported in areas that were controlled by government troops, where the price of the same basket of food items has increased 40 percent. Current prices cannot guarantee access for very poor and poor households, and food prices will continue to climb between now and the end of the lean season (in September in the north and in August in the south).

    Income sources for very poor and poor households, which enable households to access food on the market, are less diversified than normal in areas affected by the conflict over the past several months. Cash income sources are currently limited to a below-average supply of casual labor opportunities with traders and a few wealthy households. Cotton sales are normally an important source of household income in the northern part of the country, but civil insecurity in that area has prevented local households from selling their cotton production. Most humanitarian assistance programs in SELEKA-occupied areas have also been shut down.

    One source of concern is the start-up of agricultural activities for the upcoming growing season, beginning with land preparation activities in early March. The lack of farm inputs and persistent civil insecurity in areas that have been affected by the conflict since December has caused a delay in the start of the growing season. On the other hand, the growing season should get off to a normal start (in April) in southern areas of the country that have been less affected by conflict.

    There has been increasingly widespread recourse to wild foods or less preferred, atypical food sources as households who have suffered losses to their livelihood assets are unable to afford staple food items. In addition, food deficits have been observed. In conflict-affected areas, households are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    The food security outlook is concerning, with very poor and poor households expected to face food shortages in the next few months due to poor food availability and difficulties maintaining food access. Due to these food shortages, there is a risk that household food security will deteriorate, particularly for households in conflict areas. From April through the end of the outlook period, households in conflict-affected areas will resort to atypical coping strategies (including consumption of forestry products and migration), and will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. Livelihood strategies in areas not occupied by SELEKA are also limited due to the civil security situation. Households in these areas are only able to meet their basic food needs and are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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