Ongoing conflict since the 2013 political coup in the Central African Republic has forced over one million people (over a quarter of the total population) from their homes into other parts of the country and into neighbouring countries. Large areas of the country are controlled by armed groups.
“The lives and livelihoods of people in the Central African Republic are being devastated by this conflict,” says CLWR executive director Karin Achtelstetter. “It’s a region and a conflict not many Canadians are familiar with, and it doesn’t get a lot of attention here. Yet for the mother who is putting her baby to bed hungry, or the young people trying to eke out a living, life is beyond difficult.”
A new project in the Ouham-Pendé prefecture in the Central African Republic will provide emergency food to 6,000 people affected by that country’s conflict.
The project is the work of Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) with financial support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Government of Canada.
In Ouham-Pendé prefecture, households are beginning to return home after displacement due to an improvement in that area’s security situation. However, their homecoming is not a joyful one.
“Families returned to their villages only to find their properties looted, houses destroyed, and livelihoods devastated,” says Achtelstetter.
Many people are struggling to access the food they need to lead active and healthy lives. About 40 percent of children between the ages of six months and five years are affected by stunting, meaning their growth is limited due to insufficient nutrients.
Through the project, which is worth $444,000, over 6,000 people a month are receiving vouchers redeemable for food at approved local vendors.
Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius is glad the Foodgrains Bank is able to support its members in responding to crises that don’t garner as much media attention as others.
“It’s because of the faithful support from thousands of Canadians who believe that no one should go to bed hungry, and the support of the Government of Canada, that we are able to respond to this forgotten crisis,” he says.
More than three quarters of the population in the Central African Republic live in poverty. Life expectancy at birth is only 52.9 years, and the country was ranked 188 out of 189 in the United Nations Human Development Index in 2018.