15 February 2013

Central African Republic: New United Nations and NGO Assessment Alerts On the Risk of Food Insecurity in the Central African Republic

press release

Bangui — According to a recent rapid food security assessment conducted by the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations, the political and military crisis of December 2012 and January 2013 could trigger a food crisis in the country.

Since December 2012, trade has been interrupted between the area held by the Seleka coalition and the rest of the country, bringing transactions to a halt and leading to sharp price increases. The cost of a food basket has increased by 40% in the area under the control of the central African armed forces. Some of the zones under the control of the Seleka are experiencing food deficits due to price increases. According to the United Nations, some 800.000 people live in the area held by the Seleka coalition.

Household's productive capacities have been reduced due to widespread looting, which affected food stocks, seed stocks, draught animals and livestock. Insecurity is limiting farmers from working their fields. « We are very concerned about prospect for the 2013 growing season, which is due to start in just a few weeks» said Rockaya Fall, FAO Representative in Bangui. « Land preparation, which should have begun, is behind schedule in many places, due to insecurity. »

Food deficits will be highest during the May to September lean season. « Although the situation in the field has yet to reach crisis proportions, there is risk that it might during the approaching lean season » said Housainou Taal, WFP Representative in the Central African Republic. « Humanitaian access to the Seleka zone must be ensured to avoid a crisis. »

As food prices increase, income sources that the population relies on are dwindling. The marketing season of the annual cotton crop, a lifeline for the northern part of the country, has yet to start in the Seleka zone, depriving farmers from their main income source. Whereas a central African casual labourer could purchase as much as 6kg of cassava with a day's wages a year ago, he or she can only purchase 3kg this year, owing to lower wage rates and higher prices.

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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Houssainou Taal, WFP/Bangui, Tel. + 236 70 17 82 78

Rokhaya Fall, FAO/Bangui, Tel +236 75107007

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