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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Central African Republic

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Central African Republic
Dec 2012

Years of conflict have stifled agricultural production and economic growth, making the Central African Republic one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly two-thirds of the people earn less than USD 1.25 per day and basic services, including healthcare and sanitation, are lacking.

The country is also home to a large number of refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries, such as the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, most of whom are living in camps or in the capital.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

The majority of people in the Central African Republic rely on agriculture for their food and income, yet conflict, displacement and flooding have prevented many from meeting their needs. In the last two years conflict has uprooted more than 60 000 people. Farmers have had to abandon their fields, leaving assets like seeds, tools and livestock behind or losing them through looting.

Most farmers in the country generally produce just enough to feed their families, so one missed planting season can have a disastrous impact on household food security and nutrition.

The brokering of new peace agreements has led to relative stability in parts of the country, which in turn has paved the way for the return of thousands of people. Progress has also been made in helping over 7 000 former soldiers support themselves through agriculture to keep them from returning to fighting.

However, the situation is still precarious. In certain areas, armed groups prevent people from getting to their fields, accessing markets or moving around freely. The number of attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army in the southeast has risen in 2012, and tensions among farmers and nomadic cattle breeders have forced more people from their homes. Many host families are barely making ends meet, while the influx of people into their communities is straining already limited resources and services.

Annual flooding is another challenge, damaging crops, destroying roads and bridges, and raising the risk of water-borne diseases like cholera. More than 97 percent of the country’s roads are unpaved. During the rainy season, many communities are cut off from markets and humanitarian access as roads become impassable.

Bridging the humanitarian response in the country with longer-term development activities – from building feeder roads to ensuring rural market outlets to strengthening early warning systems – is vital in helping communities to rebuild their livelihoods, withstand shocks and lessen their reliance on aid.

FAO response

As an important step in the country’s recovery, FAO seeks to help conflict-affected people in the Central African Republic produce their own food again, earn an income and become more self-reliant.

With donor funding, 20 000 farmers, half of them women, will be supported in accessing quality seeds well suited to local conditions, livestock and technical training so they can produce more – and more nutritionally diverse – food.

Storage facilities will be rehabilitated to stem post-harvest losses, while training on good agricultural practices will help improve farmers’ skills, so they can get the most from their land and keep their livestock healthy and properly fed. Women’s groups and associations will be trained on cottage industries to open up more income-earning opportunities. Information on markets, such as the best time to sell and buy, will be made more readily available, and agriculture fairs will be organized at least twice a year to ensure better access to inputs and technical advice.

Assisting former soldiers to reintegrate into communities is another important component of the Appeal. Depending on their interests, 2 500 former soldiers will be supported in accessing quality seeds and tools to plant 1.5 hectares of land or four small animals and animal feed. Technical training will help them to improve production, so they can supply their households and local markets with fresh, nutritious food, while also earning much-needed income.

Legend: FAO funding requests for Central African Republic from 2009 to 2013

Having a clear picture of risks to food security and livelihoods in the Central African Republic is essential, which is why FAO will focus on strengthening early warning systems. As lead for the Food Security Cluster, FAO will continue working with partners to improve the humanitarian response to those most in need. This means having up-to-date, reliable information on food and livelihood needs as well as a better understanding of who is doing what and where to avoid duplication and gaps. It also entails building the capacity of partners to collect and analyse data, using such tools as vulnerability assessments and mapping, self-reliance monitoring and emergency food security assessments.