The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked country in Africa, neighboring Chad, Sudan, Cameroon and more. Although CAR has an abundance of natural resources, including gold, diamonds, uranium and oil, it is one of the poorest nations in the world. Following violence and political turmoil in 2013, the country is still recovering. Here are five important facts about poverty in the Central African Republic.
5 Facts About Poverty in the Central African Republic
- The Numbers: Approximately 71% of the Central African Republic’s population lives below the international poverty line. Additionally, due to violence and conflict, there are around 613,114 refugees from the Central African Republic and 641,292 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country, as of November 2020. Health is also a major concern, with a maternal mortality rate of 882 per 100,000 live births.
- History of Poverty and Conflict: There are many reasons why the Central African Republic has such high poverty rates. The main reason lies in the history of the nation. After CAR gained independence from France in 1960, it had religious rivalries, a variety of ethnic groups and multiple political ideologies. The conflict between different religious and social groups as well as competition over resources caused widespread instability throughout the country. This culminated in a more recent outbreak of violence in 2013, which has left more than half of its population in need of humanitarian assistance.
- Major Health Conditions: The leading causes of death in the Central African Republic include tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections and malaria. In 2018, malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, was reported at a rate of 347.3 cases per 100,000 people. This represents a significant decrease from previous years, as there were approximately 471 cases per 100,000 people in 2004. Additionally, there are approximately 100,000 people living with HIV in CAR.
- Life Expectancy: Life expectancy in the Central African Republic is among the lowest in the world. As of 2020, it is only 53.35 years. This is a 0.64% increase since 2019 when the life expectancy was 53.01 years. Life expectancy is low in the CAR due to widespread violence and displacement as well as the aforementioned health concerns. In addition to malaria and HIV, more than 40% of the population suffers from chronic malnutrition. On a positive note, the life expectancy of the CAR has been steadily improving since the early 2000s; in 2002, the life expectancy in the CAR was only 44.29 years.
- Education and Literacy: The literacy rate in the Central African Republic is also one of the lowest in the world, at 37.4% in 2018. The CAR is struggling to provide high-quality education for its children, particularly girls. Many girls find themselves dropping out of school because of the societal pressures to marry and have children. Only 65% of girls enter the first year of primary school and only 23% of them finish the six years of primary school.
Currently, organizations like the World Food Program (WFP), USAID and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are working to alleviate poverty in the Central African Republic and address the humanitarian crisis. Efforts include distributing food to internally displaced people, providing specialized nutrition packages for pregnant women, rebuilding educational infrastructure and recovering clean water sources. Moving forward, it is essential that these humanitarian organizations and others continue to provide aid and support to the nation.
– Alison Choi