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Crisis in the Central African Republic

Crisis in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is currently one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crises. The resurgence of violence since the end of 2017 has further exacerbated the humanitarian needs of already vulnerable communities and triggered massive population displacements. FAO is working to improve the availability and access to food for vulnerable, severely food-insecure people, by helping them to resume agricultural production to restore their livelihoods and strengthen their resilience.

Challenges facing agriculture and food security

A number of factors have resulted in the depletion of food stocks and increased dependency on food aid. Consecutive years of reduced harvests, compounded by households’ declining purchasing power led to a sharp decrease in the level of production as well as an inadequate, poorly diversified and insufficient food consumption of vulnerable populations. The food security situation across the country is alarming, with 1.9 million people severely food insecure (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, October 2018) and 4 in 10 children suffering from chronic malnutrition.

Persisting insecurity throughout the country remains the main cause affecting households’ agricultural livelihoods, particularly of displaced, returnee and host families. Forced population displacements and the collapse of basic socio-economic structures have prevented families from engaging in agricultural activities. This has resulted in a sharp decrease in the level of production, often forcing vulnerable populations to adopt negative coping mechanisms. Production deficits are 10–20 percent below pre‑crisis levels in 2013, mainly due to the unavailability of cereals in areas affected by insecurity that hampers access to fields and markets and disrupts the movement of people and goods.

Since November 2017, the prices of staple foods have been rising, including for rice, sorghum, maize and cassava. Moreover, irregular rainfall, soil degradation, fall armyworm affecting maize crops and transhumance movements are also factors causing food insecurity and malnutrition. Transhumance movements remain difficult in certain northwestern areas, generating tensions between pastoralists and farmers. This exacerbates existing intercommunal tensions, leading to armed conflict. As resuming regular transhumance movement is linked to the restoration of security in the country, actions promoting intercommunity dialogue and social cohesion are necessary to reduce the risks of transhumance-related conflict.

Resuming agricultural production to access food

In a country where agriculture provides the main source of food and income for the majority of the rural population, it is crucial to revitalize the agriculture sector to respond to the urgent needs of affected farmers, whose vulnerability continues to rise and livelihoods are increasingly at risk. Providing essential agricultural inputs to vulnerable families will contribute to boost their food production, enhance their purchasing power and restore their livelihoods.

The Organization continues to implement activities within the framework of the integrated community-centred approach it has developed, called caisses de résilience that helps families accumulate, diversify and protect assets on a regular basis throughout the year. Women’s associations and farmers’ groups act as a platform for individual and collective actions by linking the use of sustainable agricultural practices to rural finance opportunities, while strengthening social inclusion and solidarity.

Under the 2017‒2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, FAO seeks USD 30.5 million for 2019 to provide agricultural and livestock support to 900 000 vulnerable people through strategic partnership with NGOs. Restoring agriculture-based livelihoods is not only key to boost food security, but also to achieve stabilization and peace in the Central African Republic. FAO aims to enhance food production and nutrition through activities such as market gardening, vegetable and crop production, input trade fairs and income-generating activities. As co-lead of the Food Security Cluster, FAO plays a crucial role in food security coordination, as well as needs assessment and analysis, thus enabling timely decision-making. Strategic partnership between FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) is essential in the crisis response. To maximize the impact of implemented projects, families benefiting from FAO’s assistance have also received food rations from WFP to reduce the risk of eating seeds instead of planting them.

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