CAR

Central African Republic: Situation Report, 9 Nov 2022

Attachments

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Humanitarian actors provided life-saving assistance to 1.2 million people in the first half of 2022, representing 60 - per cent of the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) target.

  • Thousands of Central Africans affected by recent torrential rains.

  • After several years of displacement, humanitarian and development actors are helping internally displaced persons and refugees to resume a normal life.

  • With 50 per cent of the population not eating enough, CAR has one of the highest proportions of critically food-insecure people in the world.

  • The humanitarian community in CAR plans to provide multi-sectoral assistance to 2 million people in 2022. US$461.3 million are required.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Cassava leaves and okra vegetables, day in, day out

As soon as one enters Bakala, it becomes apparent where one has arrived. A man is walking down the street with a toddler by his hand, and one wonders how this child can already walk at its age. It is small and thin, as if it were only a few months old. Malnutrition and undernourishment are acute in the Bakala region, with disastrous consequences for the people. The child is certainly a lot older than its small body suggests. The food situation in the Bakala Sub-prefecture was classified as an emergency in the last analysis in April 2022, the category on an international scale just before the extreme case of hunger is declared. 638 000 Central Africans are in this situation, nearly one in six.

Not much on the table

People in the Sub-prefecture of Bakala in the heart of the Central African Republic are sleeping on an empty stomach. Cassava leaves, mashed and boiled, and okra vegetables, made into a sticky sauce, is what ends up on most people's plates, a single dish per day. Cassava leaves and okra vegetables, day in, day out, the nightmare of a balanced diet, and yet better than nothing. "What would we do if there were no leaves?" asks Desan, a 40-year-old farmer in the village of Mourouba, 20 km from Bakala, and immediately adds the answer himself: "We would probably starve."

Displacement and return

Many of the region's inhabitants fled armed conflicts in 2020 and 2021, to Grimari, 75 km away, and surrounding villages. "Thousands of armed rebels had captured the region. Everyone fled, even the dogs," says Desan. This year, many of them have returned, thanks to an improvement in the security situation in the region. But they have not found much: the fields have remained fallow, food and seed stocks have been looted or burnt. What remained were ghost towns. The returnees lack the most basic necessities for survival.

Armed groups continue to be active in the towns’ outskirts and at the mining sites, restricting access to fields, farmland and forests, and disrupting supply chains. This has led to the depletion of food supplies, rising prices and the adoption of negative coping mechanisms. In early 2022, people also fled the Ippy area towards Bakala, further increasing the pressure on scarce food resources.

An immediate response

Due to the dire food situation in much of the Central African Republic and the urgent need for immediate intervention, the Humanitarian Fund for the Central African Republic (CAR HF) awarded USD 4 million in February to address food insecurity for 80,000 people in areas where conflict has worsened access to food, including in the Sub-prefecture of Bakala. The funding enabled a rapid and flexible emergency response for vulnerable people that saves lives and complements other funding mechanisms.

A ray of hope

There had been no humanitarian aid in Bakala since 2012. Accordingly, the joy at the arrival of the NGO OXFAM was great, as were the expectations. 1,700 families – more than 10,000 people – in the Bakala Sub-prefecture receive food, agricultural tools and seeds from OXFAM as part of one of the projects funded by the Humanitarian Fund to alleviate the most urgent needs and improve food security. The distributions reach returnees, internally displaced persons, as well as the host population.

Grateful beneficiaries

Siri (22) and Shabere (23), two young women from Mourouba village, received rice, beans, oil and salt in three monthly rations to supplement their diet. Their round bellies begin to show under their coloured skirts as both are expecting. "The better nutrition helps my unborn child to develop and grow," says Siri.

Barthelemy (64), a father of five, was able to afford some bean and maize seeds out of his own pocket and is now waiting for his harvest. He too has benefited from OXFAM's food aid. "The food received is very welcome while I am waiting for my harvest. It ensures that a meal is put on the table in our home, so the children can concentrate in school," says Barthelemy joyfully.

Desan, the 40-year-old farmer, like many others, recently returned to Mourouba village, after having fled in 2021. He has farmed before, but all his seeds were burnt during the last attack by armed groups. He received bean and maize seeds, as well as hoes from OXFAM and has already sown. Desan expects to harvest in November – a harvest that will help him to feed his family and at the same time set aside seeds for the next season and improve his nutrition in a sustainable way. He would also like to sow groundnuts, his favourite food, but seeds are too expensive. "Times are difficult. We eat cassava leaves every day. The help received is a real relief."

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.