Humanitarian partners are supporting hospitals in Bangui to cope with the lack of electricity and drinking water following torrential rains.
The Central African Republic faces since mid-March the second COVID-19 wave.
Multisectoral emergency response reached 2,000 internally displaced people at the PK3 site in Bria, where a fire destroyed their homes.
In Bossangoa, thousands of displaced people return home in uncertainty
To meet the most urgent needs in 2021, humanitarian partners plan to assist 1.84 million people, for what they will require US$ 444.7 million.
Overview of population movements as of 30 April 2021
As of 30 April 2021, 729,005 people were displaced within CAR. Some 73 per cent had found refuge with host families and 27 per cent lived at IDP sites. The overall trend indicates a decrease in April of 9,274 IDPs compared to the previous month of March when the number of IDPs was estimated at 738,279.
The number of IDPs increased continuously from December 2020 to February 2021 in the context of the electoral and post-electoral crisis. In March and April, the Population Movement Commission reported return movements that were relatively larger than new displacement, resulting in a slight consecutive decrease in the total number of displaced people during the two months.
In April 2021, 13,037 new IDPs were registered, mainly in the northwest of the country in the Kabo and Markounda sub-prefectures (Ouham Prefecture) and in Bocaranga, Koui and Paoua (Ouham Pendé). Military operations against armed groups and the fear of abuses committed by armed groups during their flight were the main causes of new displacements.
During the same month, 22,311 returns were recorded, mainly in the Markounda, Kabo and Bossangoa sub-prefectures (Ouham), the outskirts of Bouar (Nana-Mambéré) and the capital Bangui. The gradual regaining of control of towns previously occupied by armed elements has motivated people to return. Most of the return movements took place within the same sub-prefectures.
In addition, short-term preventive displacements were reported in April, particularly in the context of military operations carried out against armed elements and sporadic incursions and occupations by armed groups, exactions and threats against the civilian population, for example in Herman, Brousse and Niem-Yelewa (Bouar sub-prefecture), where more than 10,000 people fled when the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) and their allies approached. These people returned during the same month after FACA and their allies regained control of the towns. The same applied to around 5,000 people in Lia and Taley villages in the Paoua sub-prefecture.
Severe weather conditions plunged Bangui into darkness for weeks
Fifty houses collapsed and eighty were severely damaged on 23 April 2021 in Kodozilo and Danzi villages, 20 kilometers north of the capital Bangui, during a storm with heavy rain. More than 130 families were affected by the severe weather and five people were injured in collapsing houses or by debris blown away by the strong wind. Food stocks and seeds that should have been planted in the coming weeks were also destroyed.
The rainy season has barely begun but has already hit the Central African Republic hard. The torrential rains on 23 April not only affected the people in Kodozilo and Danzi, but also plunged the entire capital into darkness for weeks and made water an even scarcer commodity in a country where only one in three people has access to clean water. The storm damaged several electricity towers in Danzi, which are part of the infrastructure providing electricity from the Boali power station to Bangui, 50 kilometers away.
More frequent and more severe
Natural hazards turning into disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe in the Central African Republic. In October 2019, nearly 100,000 people were affected by floods, including 33,000 in Bangui, a city built on the banks of the Oubangui River. Humanitarians provided multisectoral emergency assistance and most of the displaced were able to return home. In 2020, 22,000 people were affected by floods in eight prefectures and in the capital.
In the dark and in the dry
The damage caused to the electricity towers could not be repaired immediately. The electricity provider Energie Centrafricaine (ENERCA) announced that the power supply to Bangui and neighboring Bimbo would be interrupted for at least ten days. Electricity has always been a scarce commodity in Bangui and the country, with only 32 per cent of the population having access to electricity. People in most neighborhoods of the capital are used to having electricity for a few hours a day, with prolonged interruptions due to recurrent outages, others are not connected to the grid at all or electricity costs remain prohibitive, and people have learned to live with it.
Impact on health facilities
But electricity and water are far from being luxury goods in the health sector. The power outage had serious consequences for the functioning of health facilities in the capital and in Bimbo, although ENERCA had set up a back-up system with fuel-powered generators for essential services, including hospitals and telecommunication. The electricity supply to 75 per cent of the main hospitals and health centres – 12 out of 16 health facilities – was completely interrupted or regularly cut off due to a lack of fuel or functioning generators. The city's water supply was also disrupted due to the reliance on electricity for water treatment and distribution. More than half of the 16 main health facilities in Bangui and Bimbo – nine out of 16 – had their water supply interrupted, with serious implications for hygiene, for example. The water shortage dried up entire neighborhoods for several days.
Rapid humanitarian response
The National Water and Sanitation Agency distributed water with trucks to neighborhoods. Humanitarian partners who regularly support the main hospitals in Bangui and Bimbo responded immediately and repaired generators and provided additional fuel, keeping essential health services running. The World Bank committed to providing generators to ensure the continued management of COVID-19 cases in specialized treatment centers. Under the coordination of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), humanitarian and development partners have been working around the clock with the government to identify solutions to fill gaps and ensure the provision of electricity and water to health facilities. The UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA provided a team of engineers, materials and equipment to speed up ENERCA's repair work on the electricity towers in Danzi village. MINUSCA also provided a high-capacity generator to SODECA to make the pumps running and enable water distribution. The power supply to the capital has been partially restored and repair works are continuing until the capital is adequately lit again.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.