WFP airdrops food to isolated populations in CAR

The feeling of hunger and neglect for many living in remote northeastern CAR has been growing over the past two years.  The rainy season has made the area inaccessible and the transportation of food by road impossible.  WFP has organized a series of airdrops to provide urgent relief to the isolated communities. 

Bangui - Communities in the region of Vakaga in northeastern CAR are relying on WFP airdrops of food to carry them through the end of the lean season, the time of year when people run out of food and have nothing to eat until the next harvest.

WFP has implemented an airdrop operation in CAR for a targeted 11,000 beneficiaries with food assistance to last for 60 days.

“The operation consists of bringing emergency food assistance to the people of Vakaga who have been affected by the recent events which have been going on for nearly two years. The local population in Vakaga was feeling really forgotten and that they had nothing to eat, and so decided to launch an SOS to humanitarians,” said Moise Konate, head Programme Officer of WFP in CAR.

The operation has provided a total of 345 metric tons of food to local communities, with each air drop delivering around 13 tons of food in an AN12 plane.  Delivered food commodities include: cereals, pulses, dates, vegetable oil and iodized salt.

“On the ground the needs are immense.  But our partners have worked to identify the most vulnerable, as obviously not everyone is going to receive these rations,” said Moise Konate.

Identifying vulnerable persons and groups is crucial to assist those who are most in need of assistance.  Targeted beneficiaries included displaced persons, vulnerable children and women heads of households.

“I need food, especially rice. We’ve been eating leaves and vegetables.  I really want to thank the people who brought us this food,” said Asanya, a mother of five whose husband is deceased and is now head of her household.

The daily ration for an individual is about 2,100 calories, consisting of 400 grams of rice, 60 grams of pulses, 50 grams of dates, 25 grams of oil and 5 grams of iodized salt.

Food distribution to the local communities was overseen by WFP Food Monitor and the NGO Triangle.

“After each air drop we gather the food and prepare baskets of food of the same size for four or five households,” said Brousse Regiamon of WFP Food Monitor.

The Vakaga region has become isolated due to a variety of factors.  Heavy rains have left roads leading to Vakaga impassable, whether originating from within CAR or from Chad and Sudan.  In addition to poor road conditions and logistical challenges on the ground, conflict between rebel groups over the past few years has resulted in the displacement of thousands of people.

In early 2012, a tripartite military force with troops from CAR, Chad and Sudan was deployed to Vakaga to secure the border.  As a result, the movement of people and food across country borders has been severely curtailed, resulting in many IDPs and refugees in northern CAR.  In the past, most food reaching Vakaga came from Sudan.  For months now there has been almost no available food on local markets, resulting in a rapidly worsening food security situation and malnutrition rates for children approaching 20%.

The combination of impassable roads, large numbers of displaced persons and refugees, and lack of locally available food has resulted in a complex emergency situation.