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WFP Republic of Congo Country Brief, April 2020

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In Numbers

541 mt of food assistance distributed

USD 115,000 cash-based transfers made

78,728 people assisted In April 2020

Operational Updates

• Since 31 March, RoC has been under lockdown and curfew as authorities attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.
WFP has invoked its business continuity plans, with nonessential staff working from home. WFP operations, however, are continuing in the field. In April, COVID-19 cases have been identified in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, with the total number of confirmed cases exceeding 200.

• WFP is launching an urban cash-based transfer (CBT) programme, for which USD 9.3 million is required in order to help 300,000 vulnerable people in urban areas affected by the impact of the lockdown on their food security.

• To counteract the shutdown of school canteens caused by the closure of schools, WFP has started distributing takehome rations to 61,000 students across the country.
School children get the equivalent of three months of rations, allowing them to maintain good nutrition. An official launch of the operation took place on 25 April with the Ministry of Education, UN representatives and the press. Educational continuity is also implemented by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and UNESCO through lessons on television, radio and newspapers.

• The impacts of COVID-19 and measures to contain it include rising food prices and loss of income, which undermine the most vulnerable households in urban areas. WFP, through the Household Economy Analysis, was able to identify the areas and criteria of vulnerability in order to better target the most vulnerable households in Brazzaville. A cash transfer programme is being planned to enable these households to meet their food and hygiene needs.

• Operations to assist CAR and DRC refugees, returnees from the Pool and flood-affected populations are continuing and are adapted to the social distancing measures recommended to limit the spread of the virus.
This includes installing handwashing stations at distribution sites and staggering distributions to limit the number of people at the sites at any one time.

• With the fall in oil prices and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national budget has been cut in half for the year 2020. The national economy relies heavily on oil incomes. Economic impacts are projected to be significant, with annual growth of -9 percent versus 1.2 percent initially expected. The budget deficit will reach 13 percent of GDP.

• The main concern is that the poorest households, deprived of their income, will not be able to afford food at increased prices. Targeted vulnerable households in peripheric areas of Brazzaville will receive a cash-transfer through mobile money in order to buy food and soap in identified shops. WFP partners UNDP and the Catholic Relief Services will join the WFP platform and will provide a financial complement.

• WFP signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health and Population to provide logistics support. Medical equipment has been dispatched by trucks to hospitals and health centres across the country.