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Country Briefs

  Central African Republic

Reference Date: 05-November-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Unfavourable production prospects for 2018 crops due to generalized decline in cropping area as a result of deteriorating civil security situation

  2. Food access continues to be severely constrained by disrupted livelihoods, reduced production and sharply-curtailed market activities

  3. Food prices expected to seasonally decline as a result of ongoing harvests

  4. Dire food security situation for large segments of population, strong livelihood support required

Below-average production prospects for 2018 crops

The 2018 cereal crop harvest will be concluded by late November or early December, while in some areas of the south the harvest of the secondary season crops is expected to start in December.

Satellite-based rainfall estimates indicate that, in the southern maize-producing areas, above average amounts were received across the country since the beginning of the cropping season in February until the third dekad of October. However, despite adequate weather conditions, persisting civil insecurity continues to negatively constrain crop production as the area planted significantly declined due to the abandonment of a substantial number of farms. Moreover, the reduced aggregate output in the past five consecutive years has led to the depletion of the already inadequate households’ productive assets, particularly seeds and farming tools. As a result, the 2018 aggregate output is preliminarily estimated to be below average and significantly reduced compared to the pre-crisis levels in 2013.

Food prices expected to seasonally decline

Food prices remained high in September in most northwest, southeast and central conflict-affected areas as food and livestock markets continued to be disrupted by the conflict. In these areas, market activity and market supplies were also below average. Prices are expected to seasonally decline in the coming months due to availability of production of the ongoing harvests.

The average annual inflation rate declined in recent years and fell to 4.1 percent in 2017 compared to 4.6 percent in 2016. The general decline in prices was mostly demand-driven as disrupted livelihoods, reduced employment opportunities and limited availability have severely curtailed households’ purchasing power. In 2018, the average annual inflation rate is expected to fall slightly below the 2017 levels.

Acute food security situation for large segments of population due to persisting conflict

Violent clashes and inter-communal tensions have persisted since 2013 with new outbreaks of violence erupting in various regions. The conflict has resulted in widespread disruption of agricultural and marketing activities as well as exacerbated the massive displacements, with a severe negative impact on both food availability and access. According to UNHCR, as of end-August 2018, the IDP caseload was estimated at about 621 000 people. The conflicts that led to the displacement of the populations is also restricting humanitarian access and disrupting agricultural activities.

Five consecutive years of reduced harvests, compounded by access constraints due to market disruptions and declining purchasing power, result in an alarming food security situation across the country. Furthermore, due to civil insecurity, it remains difficult to provide humanitarian assistance in many areas thus raising the concern of food insecurity. Since late 2017, the quantity of the food in-take for large segments of the population has been reportedly reduced and the dietary diversity has also drastically worsened through the substitution of more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples with cassava and the sharp reduction of animal proteins in-take. This widespread dietary deterioration raises serious concerns in terms of nutrition and health. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), conducted in September 2018, about 1.9 million people (31 percent of the total population) are estimated to be in need of urgent assistance (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”) of which more than 550 000 people face IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”.

Armed conflict remains the major driver of food insecurity affecting households’ livelihoods and access to food, making it difficult to conduct agricultural and livestock activities. During the lean season, ongoing humanitarian food assistance has been able to slightly mitigate the alarming gap between food production and food needs in some host communities and displaced populations. However, additional livelihood support is required to help avert the situation and reduce the extent of the impact of the protracted and widespread insecurity on the agricultural sector.

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