News / Africa

    CAR Facing Food Crisis

    Lisa Schlein
    The World Food Program (WFP) reports it is scaling up its emergency assistance program in the Central African Republic (CAR) in response to a worsening food crisis in the country. WFP says tens of thousands of people are going hungry and are extremely vulnerable as the country enters the lean season, the period between harvests.

    A nutritional assessment carried out in over 60 communities in the Central African Republic says widespread hunger is chiefly due to the fighting and subsequent seizure of the capital Bangui by the rebel Seleka at the end of March.   

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    Officials from the World Food Program, the Food and Agricultural Organization and private agencies say the volatile situation has lessened. But violence and persistent fear by the population remain high and are largely to blame for the food insecurity. In addition, they say periods of flooding and drought are worsening the nutritional crisis.  

    WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs says people are resorting to drastic coping mechanisms to stretch out their dwindling food stocks. She says many people are only eating one meal a day. In some cases, she says adults refrain from eating so their children do not go hungry.

    "Some other households sell what they have, their belongings," she said. "They get into debt. They sell their agricultural assets and they also eat their seed stocks.  Seed stocks have been depleted because they were either looted or now, during the lean season, they are, in fact, the only food available for some people."  

    The lean season is the period between harvests when peoples' food stocks are at their lowest. The next harvest in the CAR will be in September or October.  Byrs says this poses a dilemma. To prepare for the harvest, she says farmers must plant their crops. But they are unable to do so because they are eating their seeds to stave off hunger.  

    The World Food Program estimates nearly one-third of CAR's 4.4 million population is food insecure. It says chronic malnutrition among children under five is over 40 percent, and HIV prevalence stands at 6.2 percent, one of the highest in the region.

    The United Nations assessment monitored 45 market places and found a scarcity of products and prices too high for most people to afford. It also found people lacked access to health services and medicines because most hospitals have been looted. In many cases, the UN officials note people are foregoing medical care so they have some money to spend on food.  

    Byrs says this dire situation is likely to get worse. She says children are already paying a great price. She says most schools are closed as a consequence of the fighting and all school feeding programs have stopped. She says humanitarian operations in the country are greatly underfunded.

    "We expect that the vulnerable household will become more vulnerable…It is time to ring the alarm bell in the Central African Republic," said Byrs. "It is a forgotten crisis.  It is a silent crisis.  

    WFP already assists 340,000 people. In response to the current food crisis, the UN agency has begun a three-month emergency operation. It will provide life-saving food assistance for an additional 120,000 people and will distribute seeds to farmers so they can sow their fields.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.