The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Africa with 16 prefectures. The Central African Republic is among the poorest nations in the world even though the country has an abundance of natural resources. Roughly 90 percent of the population lives in poverty, with little access to food, decent housing, water or sanitation. One of the main causes of poverty is the ongoing conflict that shattered the country. This conflict caused the living conditions in the Central African Republic to deteriorate along with the way of life for many citizens. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in the Central African Republic.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Central African Republic
- The country and many humanitarian organizations are making a desperate call for aid. Around 2.9 million people of the current 4.8 million living in the Central African Republic will need assistance. This is more than half of the population. On Jan. 7, the country’s government teamed up with the U.N. to launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, requesting nearly $431 million to provide humanitarian assistance.
- For a majority of the population, the living conditions in the Central African Republic are too dangerous. Many were displaced from their homes and thrown into chaos. As of January 2019, the current number of people displaced from their homes inside the country is 640,969 people. Living mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport, the conditions the displaced live in are not any better. Refugees are often forced to sleep in the open, making them vulnerable to harsh weather conditions. They have little access to clean water, food or medical aid.
- For those who are able to cross the borders to refugee camps, the conditions aren’t much better. Over 598,000 refugees from the country are forced to live in crowded villages or scattered along the borders. The neighboring country to the west, Cameroon, hosts the largest population of Central African refugees according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Approximately 275,700 refugees took refuge in the country as of December 2018.
- Nearly half of all Central Africans are under the age of 14 years. Of note, 370,000 of these children are orphans who will grow up without one or both their parents. The SOS Children’s Villages in Bangui and Bouar are home to thousands of children, many orphaned by AIDS or civil war.
- Malnutrition is a major problem in the Central African Republic. A USAID survey conducted in January 2019 found that 10 of the country’s prefectures have excessive levels of severe acute malnutrition. Around 1.9 million people in the country face severe levels of food insecurity. In efforts to help, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) distributed food aid to more than 5,000 people at the Saint Jean de Galabadja parish in Bangui. In December 2018, the USAID partnered with the U.N.’s World Food Programme to provide emergency food assistance to more than 628,000 food-insecure people.
- Diseases such as malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, nutritional diseases and sexually transmitted diseases are major health concerns in the country. Unfortunately, there is little support offered by clinics and first-aid posts available. The capital of the country, Bangui, only has one hospital and there is little to no health aid outside of the city.
- As the violence continues and more and more citizens are displaced, access to clean water is becoming harder to achieve. In rural areas, clean water is often not available at all, which allows the spread of numerous diseases. In response to this issue, the ICRC helped established 11 taps connected to the municipal water network and three water tanks fitted with a total of 24 taps for around 35,000 displaced people gathered at the airport in Bangui. The ICRC plans to have more taps and latrines set up at different sites to increase access.
- Transportation can be hard in the Central African Republic. The country only has about 400 miles of paved roads and no access to railways to the sea. However, most of the country rely on the rivers passing through for communication and trade. Because it is hard to navigate the unpaved roads or the lack of access to ferries, the displaced live scattered throughout the country and around the borders.
- Many NGOs try to improve living conditions in the Central African Republic. One of them is the Mercy Corps which worked in the country since 2007. The Mercy Corps helps the residents in various ways. It gives immediate assistance to displaced families and orphaned children fleeing from the violence that plagues the country. It also operates as a survivor support center that offers linkages to medical care, counseling and legal services for survivors of gender-based violence. Other services include the Corps’ members training vulnerable people in income-generating activities, constructing wells and leading play therapy and child protection committees that help kids heal from traumatic violence.
- The World Food Programme also works in the Central African Republic alongside the UNHCR, UNICEF and NGO partners to provide vulnerable communities basic food and nutrition by distributing food. The WFP also helps to support smallholder farmers in restoring and enhancing their productive assets. When school meals and general food distributions programs purchase from smallholders, it will be benefiting 46,000 farmers. 60 percent of them are women.
As the country currently stands as one of the world’s poorest countries, there is still a lot of work to do. However, there is still hope for the improvement of living conditions in the Central African Republic.
– Madeline Oden