Central African Republic: Key Message Update - Food assistance has declined while staple food prices remain high - January 2020

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Key Messages

In January, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in areas affected by conflict and among households that are worst affected by flooding. The population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the local population in areas hosting high proportions of IDPs remain among the most food insecure. Despite above-average national crop production, food prices remain atypically high in the post-harvest period and humanitarian food assistance levels have declined significantly since November.

According to OCHA estimates, the population of IDPs increased by 15 percent from September to December, due to an increase in armed conflict events since November in Alindao (Basse-Kotto), Bria (Haute-Kotto), and Bangui and due to floods at the end of the rainy season, The IDP population increased by 30 to 120 percent in the prefectures of Bangui, Mbomou, Basse-Kotto, Ombella-Mpoko, and Lobaye. In addition, a "dead city" was established in Kaga-Bandoro (Nana-Gribizi), where approximately 20,000 IDPs are located. In contrast, the IDP population in Vakaga prefecture has declined by 19 percent due to negotiations among community leaders that has helped to reestablish calm conditions.

Food access continues to be affected by conflict and insecurity. Violence perpetrated by armed groups continue to limit the movements of populations and their participation in markets in many areas of the country, while conflict between transhumants and farmers periodically occur in Baminui-Bangoran and Ouham. In addition, road checks and high illegal taxes prevent households from profiting from the sale of crops and forest and wildlife products. In the Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, the closure of the border with Chad continues to limit the inflows of millet and sorghum.

Crop production losses due to floods has reduced supply in flood-affected areas as well as market supply in major reference markets such as Bambari and Bangui. Household demand has also risen in areas previously receiving higher levels of food assistance. Reduced supply and increased demand, as well as the high cost of transporting commodities to market, has contributed to higher staple food prices. Staple food prices such as cassava and corn are as much as 60 percent above January 2019 prices in Bangui, Bangassou of Mbomou, Bambari of Ouaka, and Ndélé of Bamingui-Bangoran. In Bria, prices have doubled. The rise in prices is also linked to speculative behavior by traders.