Reference Date: 07-March-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Concerns over the upcoming 2016 cropping season due to protracted and widespread insecurity; strong livelihood support required
Crop production recovered slightly in 2015 from sharply-reduced 2014 output, but still 54 percent below pre-crisis average
Food access severely constrained by destroyed livelihoods, reduced own production, sharply curtailed market activity and high food prices
Alarming food security situation for large segments of the population
Concerns over the 2016 cropping season, strong livelihood support required
In bi-modal rainfall areas of the Centre and the South, planting of the 2016 maize crop started recently, while in the uni-modal North planting of sorghum and millet is expected to begin in May.
According to remote sensing analysis, the onset of the rainy season was timely, with southern areas beginning to receive rains in the third dekad of February (see Estimated precipitation map). However, agricultural operations continue to be severely affected by the widespread conflict, which resulted in massive displacement of people, caused input shortages and depleted households’ productive assets that were already inadequate. A reduced agricultural output for the fourth consecutive year is likely. A timely and effective support to the agricultural sector is required to mitigate the extent of the impact of the protracted and widespread insecurity on the agricultural sector.
The Government of the Central African Republic has begun a strategic effort to revive the agricultural sector and facilitate the reintegration of vulnerable people by helping youth and family farms improve their capacity to produce. In 2016, FAO will support these efforts through programmes aiming to protect and strengthen livelihoods and build resilience. FAO aims to provide seeds and tools to 95 000 farming families, while WFP plans to provide them with seed protection rations.
FAO is appealing for USD 86 million to support 1.55 million people with inputs to produce crops and keep their livestock healthy, and strengthen the Government's efforts to boost food security. In addition, FAO plans to continue its resilience support operations through activities (caisses de resilience) that will help households to accumulate, diversify and protect assets by building their capacities in terms of agriculture techniques, financial abilities and governance structures at community level.
Crop production in 2015 exhibits some recovery compared to 2014 but still at well below average levels
Harvesting of the 2015 main season cereal crops was completed between last September and October. The 2014/15 season was characterized by generally favourable weather conditions. An early onset of seasonal rains in March was followed by below average rainfall in April. Subsequently, adequate precipitation for the remainder of the cropping season benefited crop development, and in October, according to satellite imagery analysis, vegetation conditions were generally favourable (see Vegetation Health Index map). However, planted area and agricultural operations have been negatively impacted by widespread civil insecurity.
According to the findings of a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) conducted last October-November, crop production in 2015 is estimated at 838 671 tonnes, 54 percent lower than the pre-crisis average but 10 percent up on 2014, due to increased cassava production. By contrast, cereal output, already reduced in the previous two seasons, recorded a 4 percent decrease from 2014, and currently is 70 percent lower than the pre-crisis average (2008-2012).
The widespread and persistent insecurity in 2015 continued to have a negative impact on livestock rearing and fishing activities. Cattle and small ruminant numbers are estimated to have declined by 46 and 57 percent from the pre-crisis levels, respectively. Fish supply, which in 2014 was 40 percent below the pre-crisis average, did not increase in 2015 due to insecurity along the waterways, loss of fishing equipment and over exploitation in some areas which led to the exhaustion of fish stocks.
FAO’s support to crop production helped mitigate the negative impact of the crisis on food production with about 170 900 households assisted with seeds and tools. Each household received 31 kg of crop seeds (groundnut and cereals, including maize, rice, and sorghum, according to different agro-ecological zones) and three hoes. WFP provided seed protection rations. The distributed inputs have yielded a crop production of about 40 000 tonnes. The targeting of beneficiaries was based on the results of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in November 2014 (see map).
High food prices constraining food access and dietary diversity
In Bangui, prices of several food items, already at high levels, further increased in October 2015 due to trade disruptions following an upsurge of intercommunal violence in September 2015. Prices of groundnuts, wheat flour, beef meat and fish in October were between 22 and 87 percent higher than their pre-crisis levels. By contrast, maize prices declined by 25 percent in October 2015, as newly-harvested crops increased supplies, while prices of cassava were stable. In October 2015, prices of maize were 16 percent lower than their pre-crisis levels, while prices of cassava were around their pre-crisis levels, largely due to trade disruptions that retained maize and cassava in the producing regions surrounding Bangui.
The population of the Central African Republic is facing serious and constantly deteriorating food access constraints due to destroyed livelihoods, reduced own production, sharply curtailed market activity and high food prices. In addition, not only the quantity of food intake is reduced, but the dietary diversity is also drastically diminished with the substitution of more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples with more cassava and the sharp reduction of animal proteins intake. This widespread dietary deterioration raises serious concerns of having a dire effect in terms of nutrition and health.
Alarming food security situation for large segments of the population
The acute and complex emergency affecting CAR has resulted in widespread disruption in agricultural and marketing activities and caused massive displacement thus having a severe negative impact on both food availability and access. The IDP caseload, which declined in the first semester of 2015 due to a relative improvement in security in some areas of the country and in June 2015, at about 369 000 individuals, was at its lowest level since early 2014, but increased again to 448 000 in October due to the resurgence of inter communal violence in the capital, Bangui, and in other areas of the country. As of mid-February 2016, the IDP caseload was estimated at about 435 000 individuals.
Reduced food availability and access constraints have led to a deterioration of the food security situation: according to the findings of the CFSAM, 47 percent of the surveyed groups have indicated that the food security situation has deteriorated compared to 2014, and 20 percent has indicated that it has sharply deteriorated.
Additional food security indicators show a deterioration of the situation compared to a year earlier. For instance, the Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) conducted by WFP in September 2015 indicates that in 2015 the number of households with poor or borderline food consumption increased due to the declining frequency of consumption of almost all food groups. Between 2014 and 2015, a deterioration of the household diet has been observed: households consume less often cereals (5 days per week in 2015 compared to 6.5 days in 2014), legumes (3 days compared to 5 days), animal proteins (2 days compared to 3 days), sugar (3.6 days compared to 5.3 days) and slightly less often oil and fruit.
Results from the ongoing Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis will provide an updated estimate of the number of people affected by food insecurity and are expected to shed more light on the specific humanitarian assistance requirements.