analysisBy William Lambers
The CAR is experiencing alarming levels of malnutrition and the World Food Programme has just a fraction of the money it needs to address the crisis.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said that the Central African Republic (CAR) is facing a dire humanitarian situation which the WFP is ill-equipped to deal with. With only 32% of the funds it needs, the WFP says it "will be unable to scale-up ahead of the planting and rainy seasons, or to respond in newly secured areas."
Around $35 million in funding is urgently needed to cover at least three months of aid. The WFP, in a report released on 28 February, said that levels of malnutrition are high even among adults.
In the capital Bangui, malnutrition is so severe that the supplementary food Plumpy'Sup - usually used to treat malnutrition in children - is being provided to adults as well.
In the western part of the country, thousands of civilians are surrounded by armed groups. Reaching them is a major challenge amid the threat of attack.
But with low funding, the WFP may not even be able to respond should the opportunity arise. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations and not nearly enough has been pledged for its hunger relief mission in the CAR.
The conflict has also caused large-scale displacement, with many civilians fleeing to Chad and other countries in the region. WFP is scaling up operations in those countries too. Denise Brown, WFP's West Africa Regional Director, says:
"We are facing a regional crisis, that goes well beyond the borders of the Central African Republic. These people - most of them women and children - have seen their homes burned and witnessed unspeakable violence and had no choice but to leave. They desperately need food and nutritional assistance and other support both inside CAR and in neighbouring countries. They need it now and they should not have to wait."
Furthermore and more alarmingly still, the damage to livelihoods caused by the conflict will limit the ability of farmers to plant crops and markets to function. The hunger situation could get much worse in the Central African Republic unless funding is received.
WFP has set up a relief fund for the Central African Republic.
Author and world hunger specialist
William Lambers is the author of Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. His other books include The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, The Road to Peace and The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger.