Food insecurity emergency is worsening in Central African Republic: WFP

Visually impaired farmers that have have received assistance from the WFP in the Bossangoa locality of the Central African Republic. (Credit: WFP)

Nearly half of the population in the Central African Republic, or 2.2 million people, are facing acute food insecurity as a host of problems, from poverty to demographic growth, leads to an increasingly uncontrollable situation, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. 

The agency’s latest warning comes after it sounded the alarm bells in May last year, attributing acute food insecurity to compounding impacts of conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic. People in the region are facing shortages of basic necessary food items, such as wheat flour and vegetable oil.

“We are a well-oiled machine, but we are between a rock and a hard place,” WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri told journalists in Geneva. “We keep setting records, and it’s not a good thing when the World Food Program is setting records.” 

The growing needs of the Central African Republic’s population is outpacing WFP resources, Phiri added. The WFP reached 118 million people in 2020, and that number has grown to 152 million for 2022.

A recent report from the WFP and The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognizes six countries as phase 5 ‘catastrophe’ zones, or at risk of catastrophic conditions on the Integrated Food Security Classification scale. 

Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen have continued to be hotspots, while Somalia and Afghanistan joined the list of countries in January 2022. The report concluded up to 750,000 people are facing starvation and death in these areas. 

Ethiopia’s Tigray region continues to face unimaginable shortages. There, the report found 400,000 are at risk of starvation or death, which is “the highest number on record in one country since the famine in Somalia in 2011”. 

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The war in Ukraine has affected food supply globally. A recent WFP report said the Ukraine crisis has created a ripple effect. But even prior to the conflict, a lack of funding forced the UN agency to cut rations by up to 50 per cent in Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

“Now, WFP is being forced to take from the hungry to feed the starving,” said the report.