Emergency operations

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) Central African Republic response helps people affected by the conflict, by delivering relief and recovery assistance to improve food security and organising logistics.

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What are the current issues in Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (C.A.R.) has been caught up in the worst political and humanitarian crisis of its history for over a year. With more than 600,000 people internally displaced as of May 2014, persistent violence is affecting the entire population in C.A.R and 1.6 million people are food insecured.The crisis has become one of the main challenges facing humanitarian and international communities.

The conflict began in December 2012, when the rebel Seleka coalition occupied more than half of the country’s territory. Despite a cease-fire agreement reached with the government in January 2013, the coalition seized the capital in late March, pushing President Francois Bozize out of the country and installing Michel Djotodia as president. Members of an auto-defense militia group, the anti-Balaka, retaliated by attacking Muslim villages and areas in main cities, causing hundreds of deaths and forcing people — especially Muslim communities — to flee. Djotodia was forced to resign in January 2014, and Catherine Samba-Panza, the former mayor of Bangui, was elected by parliament to head a transitional government.

Even before the crisis began, the food security situation in C.A.R. was dire. A comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis (CFSVA, 2009) indicates that 30 percent of the population was food-insecure. The global acute malnutrition rate among children under five was 7.4 percent, while chronic malnutrition for the same age group was at 41 percent, levels considered “serious” (MICS, UNICEF, 2010).

The food security situation has worsened significantly since the start of the crisis. 1.6 million people, representing 35 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food assistance. 60 percent of households reported having exhausted their food stocks in December 2013, and 90 percent said they consumed just one meal a day (MIRA, January 2014).

According to a joint WFP/FAO assessment (March 2014), the economy in C.A.R. has severely contracted due to the crisis. GDP declined by nearly 30 percent in 2013, and trading has severely reduced—including a 60 percent decrease in exports—as Muslim communities that normally control trade and transport have fled. The main wholesale market in Bangui was near collapse in March 2014; 70 percent of traders have left the market, and food stocks are reported to be around 20 percent of pre-crisis levels. Agricultural production also decreased in 2013, with levels almost 40 percent down from the previous year. 60 percent of farmers indicated that their crop production was significantly reduced.

The Central African Republic (C.A.R.) is a sparsely populated and landlocked country of 4.4 million inhabitants. Despite its wealth in mineral and natural resources, C.A.R. ranks 180 out of 187 countries in the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. Continued socio-political instability—a consequence of rebellions, coups and inter-ethnic fighting during the last three decades—has hampered development. This has resulted in a deterioration of basic social and economic infrastructure and has forced many school-age children out of school. The national net school enrolment of primary school children is 63 percent.

Many armed conflicts have caused large-scale internal displacement over the past two decade in C.A.R. This latest crisis pushed more than 350,000 people out of the country, mainly across the border to Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Despite the government’s efforts to restore peace and invest in development, the country still struggles with continued violence and conflict.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Central African Republic

WFP activities are carried out through three projects in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1 through 6 in order to address the country’s complex challenges. Activities are consistent with national strategies and conform to humanitarian partner interventions. WFP operations are thus in line with the Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper II (2011-2015) and the intergovernmental United Nations Peacebuilding Commission's Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding (2009-2011). WFP's interventions are also coordinated through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2012-2016) and the annual Consolidated Appeals Process.

WFP implements a Protracted Recovery and Relief Operation (PRRO) in the conflict-affected north of the country, as well as in parts of the southeast and southwest. This project aims to save lives, improve people's food security and nutritional status and rebuild livelihoods. Through general food distributions, WFP assists 19,000 IDPs and returnees and 14,000 refugees – Sudanese in Ouaka and Congolese (DRC) refugees in Mbomou/Haut Mbomou and Lobaye. Nutrition assistance is provided to 20,000 malnourished children 6–59 months, 6,300 malnourished mothers and 2,700 caretakers of severely malnourished children receiving treatment. Assistance is also provided to 2,400 people living with HIV through a pilot food-for-prescription activity. Furthermore, WFP supports school meals to facilitate the return of 55,000 primary students to school, provides food-for-assets to 76,000 people (seed protection rations, land/basic infrastructure rehabilitation) and skill/technical training as well as support for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. Subject to approval, a new Budget Revision will provide an additional 120,000 people with food assistance.

In the South of the country, under the Country Programme, WFP provides school meals to 76,000 primary and 4,300 pre-school children to encourage attendance and enrolment. WFP also provides nutritional support to 45,000 malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women to prevent and treat moderate acute malnutrition, in line with the National Protocol on Nutrition.

In addition, WFP manages the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). This UNHAS provides transport for the humanitarian community to areas that are otherwise inaccessible due to insecurity, poor infrastructure, flooding, etc. More than 40 humanitarian organizations depend on UNHAS. UNHAS carries out a monthly average of 188 hours, and transports 545 passengers and 6.2 mt of cargo. Medical and security evacuations are performed as required. All 27 destinations are served, including locations in the rebel-controlled areas.

In 2013, WFP plans to assist 336,000 people. In 2012, WFP distributed around 9,000 mt of food to 333,000 people. WFP has been present in CAR since 1969.

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