The UN World Food Programme (WFP), in a report released today, says that over one million people in the Central African Republic are suffering from moderate or severe hunger. This is nearly 30 percent of the population outside of the capital of Bangui. Those displaced by ongoing conflict are most impacted by the food shortages. WFP is rushing to bring them aid.
Violence has escalated in the Central African Republic since Seleka rebels overthrew the government earlier this year. Armed groups now wreak havoc. UNICEF said this week, "Since September 2013, the number of people forced to flee their homes has almost doubled with an estimated 394,000 now displaced."
With the chaos has come a major hunger crisis. Shortages of food and income are causing more violence among the population.
Outside of Bangui, WFP and partner agencies found that, "due to persistent insecurity, households have relied on crisis or emergency strategies, which have placed their livelihoods at risk. The majority of households interviewed reported having their livestock stolen in the past months. The food security situation is expected to further deteriorate if violence continues."
Even before this year's conflict, the Central African Republic was suffering in poverty. When the fighting started, it disrupted typical farming activities. Even when rainfall was decent, farmers could not take advantage because they were displaced and lost their land and supplies.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says "several assessments in April and May 2013 found that large numbers of households lacked seeds for planting due to looting and/or used for household consumption... In addition, the heavy fighting which erupted in the Ouham province in September 2013 caused further disruption to agricultural activities in a cereal surplus producing area which is considered to be the country’s granary."
With so many people on reduced income and food supplies, malnutrition is taking hold. The most vulnerable are children. WFP is giving Plumpy'Sup to 2400 moderately malnourished children. This special peanut paste is meant to prevent life threatening malnutrition caused by the ongoing insecurity and poverty.
Emergency school feeding is opening this month in parts of the country. WFP plans to feed 10,000 children in the coming weeks with the hopes of bring some stability back to families through food and education. The emergency school feeding will be expanded nationwide.
WFP relies on voluntary funding. For the Central African Republic the UN food agency needs US $ 36 million dollars over the next year to bring food aid.