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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid