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Delayed start of the growing season in parts of the CAR

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • May 2013
Delayed start of the growing season in parts of the CAR

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • According to the latest acute food insecurity analysis, households in the central, northern, and eastern areas of the country will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between now and the next harvest. Meanwhile, households in southern and western areas will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity through the end of September.

    • Low market supplies and volatile food prices are exacerbating what was already a precarious food security situation due to the earlier than normal depletion of household food stocks, disruptions to basic social services, and persistent civil insecurity that is preventing households from diversifying their income sources.

    • Several Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) assessments conducted in April and May found that large numbers of households do not have seeds due to looting and/or household consumption. This has delayed planting activities which should have normally begun by mid-April.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

     

     

    Areas affected by conflict since December

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

    • Across the country, staple food prices (ex. cassava and coarse grains) are higher than last year’s levels.

     

    • Planting activities, which normally get underway by mid-April, are currently delayed.
    • Prices will remain unusually high until the next round of harvests in November-December.

     

    • Households will harvest their crops one to two months later than usual, causing the lean season to be prolonged.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Despite several rounds of diplomatic talks and the government’s appeal for restraint, there has been very little improvement with regards to the country’s security situation, with continued reports of looting, theft, and rape that have triggered new population displacements. According to an OCHA situation report, there were approximately 206,000 IDPs in the Central African Republic itself and more than 49,000 refugees in neighboring countries (the DRC, Chad, the Congo, and Cameroon) as of May 3, 2013.  Security conditions are still volatile and are hampering humanitarian operations and the delivery of assistance to displaced populations in areas affected by conflict since December 2012 (Bamingui, Kemo, Haut Mbomou, MBomou, Basse Kotto, Ouaka, and Vakagua). Moreover, many humanitarian organizations have suffered significant losses due to the looting of their warehouses, which could delay the resumption of their programs. Other organizations (ex. the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the World Food Programme) are continuing to operate within their respective service areas with a limited number of staff.

    In addition to these security constraints, the food security situation has been steadily deteriorating compared with the first quarter of this year, particularly in areas that saw conflict in December 2012 and January 2013. In these areas, households who fled the fighting lost their food stocks and/or crops still in the field, due to looting or theft. As a result, household food stocks are depleting earlier than normal.

    In general, prices on grain markets are rising. The sharpest price increases are on markets in the interior of the country, where persistent civil insecurity is impeding regular supply shipments. According to a joint assessment conducted in February 2013, the cost of a basket of food items in February 2013 was 10 to 40 percent higher than last year’s levels, depending on the area. In addition, several Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) assessments in April and May confirmed that food prices are high and that households are experiencing eroding purchasing power.1, 2, 3 Consequently, households are having difficulties accessing food through market purchases.

    According to satellite imagery, the rainy season got off to a normal start in March/April, with generally normal rainfall levels and distribution. Medium-range forecasts (ECMWF, IRI, NOAA) show no significant anomalies and as a result, FEWS NET is assuming that the rainy season will be normal.  However, the start-up of agricultural activities has been later than normal due to persisting civil security threats and the fact that local populations in certain areas have suffered losses to their supplies of seeds and other farm inputs. Consequently, households will harvest their crops one to two months later than usual and the lean season will be prolonged.

    Households in northern, central, and eastern areas of the country have practically no food stocks and have lost almost all of their livelihoods. In addition, households in these areas have been unable to sell their cotton production since December 2012, depriving households of their main income source. This is adversely affecting household food security and is forcing households to escalate their usage of survival strategies, such as increased consumption of forestry products and migration). The latest acute food insecurity analysis puts these areas of the country in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between now and the next round of harvests. Poor households in southern and western areas of the country, which have been less affected by conflict, will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes throughout the lean season (March through September).

    Starting in September, harvests will improve food availability in the southern and western areas of the country and agricultural wage labor income relating to the harvest will strengthen household purchasing power. This will enable poor households in most areas of the country to meet their basic food and non-food needs, bringing down acute food insecurity to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels. However in the northern and east-central parts of the country, where the start of the growing season was delayed and humanitarian assistance programs have been limited, households will be able to meet their basic food needs but will be unable to cover nonessential food expenses, and will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity levels in September.  

    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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