The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Central African Republic

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Central African Republic
Dec 2011

Decades of conflict and insecurity in the Central African Republic and neighbouring countries have led to large-scale displacement and undermined the economy.

2011 was marked by signs of progress – elections were held, a new Government was formed and a ceasefire was agreed between the Government and one of the last remaining rebel groups. Resettlement and reintegration – particularly of ex-combatants – are major challenges.

Today, over 170 000 people remain displaced in the Central African Republic, and almost as many are refugees in neighbouring countries. Central Africans are among the world’s poorest, with nearly two out of three people living on less than USD 1.25 per day.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Much of the conflict has played out in rural areas, forcing farmers off their land, destroying productive assets and bringing livelihoods to a halt. Food insecurity is rife – 30 percent of people are unable to meet their basic food needs. Most of them are, or were, farmers.

Lack of access to land, inputs and extension support have significantly affected crop production and livestock rearing. In spite of peace agreements with almost all opposition movements, the Lord’s Resistance Army continues to pose a threat in the south east of the country, preventing farmers from resuming productive activities. Soaring food prices have further placed staple foods beyond the reach of most families. In just one month, the price of cassava nearly tripled (from XAF 1 000 to XAF 2 800 for 15 kg). As a result, farming families have had great difficulty in accessing sufficient and diverse foods.

The ability of the Government and the private sector to support effective and efficient agricultural production remains low. Systems for organized harvest, food processing, conservation, commercialization and animal protection are either inadequate or non-existent.

The Central African Republic has tremendous agricultural potential, with one of the highest levels of rainfall in the world. One-quarter of the country’s land area is arable (15 million hectares – almost four times the size of Switzerland), of which only 4 percent is under cultivation. To re-establish the agriculture sector, farmers must regain safe access to agropastoral lands. This must go hand in hand with improving local capacity to collect reliable data, conduct analysis and communicate the results to ensure that the most appropriate assistance reaches populations most in need.

FAO response

In 2011, FAO’s response in the Central African Republic centres on a sustainable return to agriculture for IDPs and ex-combatants. Recent political progress presents a unique opportunity to capitalize on the country’s immense agricultural potential and to build momentum in agricultural recovery.

FAO aims to provide livelihood support to 22 500 households. Helping farmers access vital agricultural inputs, through direct distribution and agricultural fairs, will help restore food production. Training on cottage industries and food preservation will increase income opportunities. Livestock support will include the provision of healthy and productive animals, a systematic vaccination campaign and training on improved animal reproduction and rearing practices. FAO will also support the Government’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process to match ex-combatants with appropriate livelihood opportunities, by providing agricultural inputs and training to help successfully reintegrate them into civil society.

As co-lead of the Food Security Cluster, FAO will work with partners to regularly assess the food security situation, promote gender equality and provide up-to-date information for timely and effective response.