News / Africa

CAR Races to Save Planting Season

FILE - People stand behind a gate at Mpoko Airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, as food is being unloaded from a cargo aircraft.
FILE - People stand behind a gate at Mpoko Airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, as food is being unloaded from a cargo aircraft.
Nick Long
A food crisis is looming in many parts of the Central African Republic, where many villagers have lived in the bush for months to avoid marauding armed groups.
 
The United Nations estimates about 700,000 people are forced to live away from their homes in the Central African Republic, and most of them are in rural areas.
 
Traveling through the northwest of the country, you can see many signs of the violence that has driven people into the bush. For mile after mile you pass roofless empty houses, where everything inside was likely stolen or burned.
 
But where do people go in the bush? A young man at the village of Bessane offered to show VOA where his neighbors have been sheltering.
 
After walking for about five kilometers, we arrived at a clearing where a family was sitting outside half a dozen circular mud brick huts. These huts are close to several families’ fields and were built to provide shelter during busy periods of the farming year.
 
Eric Zouta, the head of one of the families living here, says he brought the family here to avoid Seleka violence, and this is where they have been living for months. The huts are small, there are no beds or mosquito nets, and he does not sleep here himself, he says. He goes further into the bush and sleeps on a pile of cut grass, because it is mainly men that the Seleka target.  
 
The villagers can not easily hide in the fields around this encampment - they would be visible from higher ground. They say they could not work normally for fear of being killed by the Seleka or nomadic people allied to them.
 
This has meant there is not much food or many seeds left over from the last harvest.
 
They ate all their seeds, says Zouta. They had to, he says, as they were short of food.
 
The head of mission for an international aid organization in the CAR, who preferred his name be withheld, said the Zouta family was lucky, in one sense.
 
"You are lucky if you are able to eat your own seeds because a lot of them were actually stolen or burned by different groups - the Seleka, anti-balaka and the nomadic people that come from Chad and roam around the country," he said.
 
Villagers at Bessane say they need seeds and tools if they are to plant enough food in the fast-approaching planting season, which lasts from mid-March to mid-May. They said that besides seeds they have lost their machetes, hoes, rakes and watering cans.
 
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a plan to distribute seeds and tools to 150,000 households in the CAR in time for planting.  
 
Only one type of tool will be provided, says FAO’s head of mission in the CAR Pierre Vauthier.
 
He says they are only distributing hoes as FAO, for reasons of security and protection, does not wish to distribute machetes, even though these are a necessity for farmers. FAO could not be sure that machetes would not be used for murderous purposes, he explains.
 
FAO says most of the seeds will have to be imported, and it is trying to coordinate purchasing in order to keep the price down.
 
Many problems, mainly insecurity but also lack of funding, information and qualified agricultural staff on the ground have meant that the FAO and other NGOs are behind schedule with their plans.
 
But the World Food Program has managed to transport food to the northwest of the country in the past two months, so in theory it should be possible to distribute seeds and tools.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid