Poverty in the Central African Republic
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Central African Republic
Following a 2012 armed insurgency that fought for national control, a coalition of rebel militia factions started the Séléka movement and installed a new ruling regime that led to an unprecedented level of poverty in the Central African Republic.

Currently, the Central African Republic (CAR) ranks among the poorest countries both on the continent and globally. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report which classifies countries’ performances using a gamut of developmental variables, the Central African Republic ranked 180 out of 187 countries.

Additionally, as a result of current conflict in the country, the Central African Republic’s economic prospects are dismal at best, which is exemplified by its average income per capita of $750.

Implications of Poverty in the Central African Republic

The civil war has disproportionately affected the children of the Central African Republic; more than 50% of the population is below the age of 14. Children that manage to avoid becoming internally displaced persons or child soldiers often never enter the educational system. Moreover, teenage girls are more likely to be illiterate; they attend primary school at rates 21% lower than their male counterparts.

Unfortunately, the people of the CAR also have to contend with terrible health conditions. Currently, more than 120,000 persons live with HIV. Approximately 11,000 individuals require a recurring dose of antiretroviral drugs in order to prevent spreading their disease to a fetus.

The plight of people in the CAR is largely caused by the absence of sustainable agricultural practices. Apart from the effects of conflict, insufficient agricultural infrastructure has produced an alarming food security crisis — more than 10% of children in CAR suffer from malnutrition.

Although the humanitarian situation presents daunting challenges, the international community continues to demonstrate its commitment through stalwart relief efforts. Notably, S.O.S Children’s Villages International has created two-day care facilities, medical centers and educational services that are available to the people of the CAR for free.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is another international actor that has made an impact on poverty in the Central African Republic. So far, the WFP has provided meals to families with children under the age of five and plans to distribute 1.1 metric tons of food across the country in 2017.

In addition to international organizations and global nonprofits, governments that provide foreign aid have helped combat poverty. The United States plays an essential role in reversing poverty; in the past four years, the U.S. has contributed $190 million to the CAR and plans to contribute more than $31 million in 2016.

The global community must continue to prioritize curbing poverty in the Central African Republic, with both assistance programs and greater media coverage of the day-to-day plight for those in the country. It is practical to provide aid, as it is essential for international stability.

Adam George

Photo: Flickr