BANGUI – A recent study has found that 1.1 million people in the Central African Republic (CAR) risk going hungry and warns the situation could worsen because of poor harvests and a drastic slowdown in economic activity following months of violence.
An Emergency Food Security Assessment, conducted jointly by the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and the Government of CAR, shows that 1.1 million people –
around 30 percent of the population living outside the capital Bangui – are unable to meet their daily food needs on a regular basis or require food assistance in order to get by.
At least half the estimated 395,000 people internally displaced people in CAR are considered to lack access to enough safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.
Since conflict erupted in December 2012, many farmers fled their farms, leaving crops untended. The majority of households said that their livestock had been stolen. Some families sold livestock and seeds to survive, while others sold herds for fear of displacement or looting.
The results of the assessment confirm data gathered earlier this year in rapid surveys to measure the effect of the escalating violence on people’s ability to feed their families.
“Immediate action must be taken to end violence in the country to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced persons to return to their homes and farms,” said Housainou Taal, WFP’s representative in CAR.
“We call upon the different armed groups to respect the rights of civilians and to provide humanitarian access for our staff to reach those in dire need,” he added.
The areas where people face the greatest problems getting enough food include Ouham, Ouham-Pende and Nana Gribizi in the north, and Vakaga and Bamingui-Bangoran in the northwest. However, pockets of food insecurity are found throughout the country.
WFP is concerned that the next lean season, which usually begins in May and is when the food from the last harvest runs out, may start as early as the beginning of next year. Two-thirds of the farm households surveyed in the assessment said that their harvests would be smaller than last year. The survey found that there may not be enough food in the country to cover people’s needs through January/February 2014.
Disruptions to the cotton trade, labour shortages and reduced peanut harvests – the primary sources of income for rural families – have decreased purchasing power and economic activities, raising the risk of a nutrition crisis that would be exacerbated by limited access to health facilities.
WFP has provided vital food assistance to around 250,000 people in CAR since January this year. To keep assisting some of the world’s most vulnerable people, WFP requires an additional US$20 million from now until April 2014.
“With continued support from our generous donors, we aim to scale up our operations to respond quickly to the needs of more than 600,000 vulnerable people, including malnourished children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and primary school children,” said Taal.
WFP and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with other partners, will support the Government of CAR in monitoring the food security situation closely over the coming months.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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