The Central African Republic (CAR) is a sparsely populated and landlocked country of 4.4 million inhabitants. Despite its wealth in mineral and natural resources, CAR ranks 180 out of 187 countries in the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index. Socio-political instability is the main factor hampering development, which is the consequence of rebellions, coups and inter-ethnic fighting during the last three decades. 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 schoolchildren is 63 percent.
Armed conflicts have caused large-scale internal displacement of an estimated 176,000 Central Africans and some 165,000 are refugees in Chad and Cameroon. CAR also hosts 20,000 refugees from Sudan 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 insurgencies. A series of ceasefires and agreements have been made though progress is very slow. Furthermore, insecurity in the south-east is compounded by the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group of Ugandan origin.
At the end of December 2012, the country faced a major crisis whereby the rebel coalition ‘Seleka’ occupied more than half of the country’s territory. In early January 2013, a cease-fire agreement was reached between the Government and the coalition. However, in late March 2013, Seleka seized the capital, Bangui. President Bozize fled the country and the Seleka leader declared himself president.
Since the beginning of the crisis, food prices have increased in CAR. The effect of the rise of food prices is particularly acute in areas under the control of Government forces, and in the western part of the Seleka occupied areas. Overall, food prices have risen by 10 percent in the Seleka controlled area and 40 percent in the area controlled by Government forces, compared to February 2012. In the Seleka occupied areas, food prices such as sorghum and maize have soared, while prices of sesame and nuts are stable or have declined. In the areas controlled by the Government, corn prices doubled and other commodities increased between 13 and 50 percent.
The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) stands at US$ 454. The comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis (CFSVA, 2009) indicates that 30 percent of the population is food insecure. Global acute malnutrition among children under five has decreased to 7.4 percent (Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey - MICS, UNICEF, 2010) from 10.2 per cent in 2006, and is thus no longer considered "serious" but "poor". The same data also shows that chronic malnutrition among children under five has increased from 38 percent in 2006 to 41 percent in 2010, which falls into the “serious” bracket. HIV prevalence stands at 6.2 percent, one of the highest in the region.