The Central African Republic ranks last in the 2016 Human Development Index, with around 76 percent of the country’s 4.7 million population estimated to be living in poverty. Low productivity, weak markets and high gender inequality are all contributing factors, made worse by recurrent cycles of political crisis and insecurity that hit women in rural communities hardest.
In 2013, a political coup saw intense sectarian violence that displaced 1.2 million people. The country experienced a 36 percent collapse in GDP, and there were over 60,000 cases of gender-based violence. Renewed violence since 2017 has led to further displacement, with over one million people displaced across the country or sheltering in neighbouring countries. Although a new president and general assembly were elected in March 2016, large swathes of the territory are still controlled by armed groups and the security situation remains volatile.
With livelihoods disrupted by conflict, food production and household purchasing power have weakened. Factors such as the destruction of infrastructure and restricted access to land have limited production, resulting in a fall in food consumption and dietary diversity. Rising food prices mean that 65 to 75 percent of disposable income is now spent on food, and 45 percent of the population (2 million people) are food insecure. Of these, 25 percent are severely food insecure (0.5 million). Around 40 percent of children aged between 6 months and 5 years are stunted, their growth limited by lack of nutrients in their diet.
In collaboration with other humanitarian organizations, WFP has been providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to conflict-affectered people in the Central African Republic, reaching some 880,000 people in 2017. WFP’s crisis response work is continuing under the prevailing circumstances while focus is gradually shifting towards developing and supporting the Government’s own Zero Hunger policies and social security programmes. By strengthening the country’s capacity for leading future crisis response and resilience-building activities, the aim is for a gradual transfer of responsibilities to the Government in the coming years.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Central African Republic
Access to foodWorking with UNHCR, UNICEF and NGO partners, WFP helps vulnerable communities meet their basic food and nutrition needs by distributing food – including specialized nutritious foods - and/or cash. As areas become more stable, refugees and others affected by crisis will be helped to return home and focus will shift towards helping them recover their livelihoods. School meal programmes improve children’s nutrition and school attendance in areas facing food insecurity.
NutritionTo help build long-term resilience, WFP is working to improve the nutrition of vulnerable groups including children, people with disabilities and HIV patients. 36,000 children aged 6 to 59 months will receive fortified food each day, part of a programme designed to treat and prevent malnutrition. Vaccination, better water and sanitation, health training and women’s empowerment are also supported by this programme.
Supporting smallholdersWFP is helping to support smallholder farmers in restoring and enhancing their productive assets, aiming to improve productivity and food security, as well as building resilience to future crises. Farmers receive transfers to grow crops and gain some independence, as well as technical assistance and market opportunities to improve their incomes and food and nutrition security. School meals and general food distributions programmes will purchase from smallholders, benefiting 46,000 farmers (60 percent of them women).
Capacity strengtheningWorking with other UN agencies and government institutions, WFP aims to strengthen national humanitarian and early recovery capacities, supporting the Government to develop and deliver its own Zero Hunger policies and social protection programmes that also incorporate initiatives to improve gender equality. These will be backed up by detailed data and the development of monitoring and accountability systems.
Supporting humanitarian workLong distances, poor infrastructure, insecurity and the absence of commercial airlines stand in the way of achieving Zero Hunger in the Central African Republic. To improve humanitarian access, communications and logistics, WFP runs the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and leads the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) and Logistics Cluster to ensure safe, reliable and efficient access to populations in need.