Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
Despite the signing of the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation (APPR) in February 2019, the security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains highly volatile. A continued rise in armed groups’ activities, violent confrontations over the control of natural resources, and intercommunal conflict, including transhumance-related conflict, have further eroded the population’s capacity to sustain multiple shocks. One in four Central Africans is displaced, either within or outside CAR. As of September 2020, almost 641,000 people are internally displaced, an 8 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted a devastating blow to the economic sector of a country already ranked second to last on the Human Development Index (HDI). COVID-19 restrictions and confinement measures have also increased protection risks. From April to June, the number of minors suffering from GBV increased significantly in Bangui. The closure of schools exposed hundreds of thousands of children to additional risks of recruitment into armed groups and the worst forms of labour, notably in mines. One GBV case per hour is recorded through the VBGIMS system, which covers only 42 per cent of the territory. The number of GBV cases recorded doubled in the capital, Bangui. The secondary impacts of COVID-19, food insecurity and malnutrition have spread to urban centers, such as Bangui and Bimbo.
Further deterioration has taken place in the socioeconomic context and is near collapse, severely affecting the prices of basic commodities, the labour market and households’ purchasing power at a time when the median cost of the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket increased by 10 per cent.
The impacts of devastating floods in 2019, which affected 100,000 people, are still being felt in the capital. Thousands of people remain in displacement sites and thousands more are seeking shelter from this year’s torrential rains. As of November 2020, more than 24,000 people have been affected by floods caused by climatic change. Areas with a high concentration of IDPs are the most prone to epidemics, such as measles and waterborne diseases. Only one in three Central Africans has access to safe and drinkable water and sanitation facilities.
CAR is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers, with more than one incident against humanitarian workers recorded each day. From January to October 2020, 344 security incidents were reported, which is a 42 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
Projected situation in 2021 and beyond
An estimated 2.8 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 1.9 million people with severe needs. This represents the highest severity in the past five years. With no improvement in the security and structural drivers of the crisis and the emergence of new crises and hotspots, a sharp deterioration of key humanitarian indicators have been recorded. In the projected situation, 2.3 million people are food insecure, with 525,000 people in IPC Phase Four. Overall, at the intersectoral level, 52 sub-prefectures have reached severity threshold 4, and 20 sub-prefectures have reached severity threshold 3.
With a score of 7.8, CAR ranks fifth in the world in terms of risk level, according to the INFORM 2021 index. This is due to the high risk of conflict, socioeconomic vulnerabilities and lack of human capital. CAR is classified as the world’s most vulnerable country to COVID-19. This is due to poor access to WASH structures, combined with household economic vulnerability and insufficient health coverage. The country is also experiencing heavy rains, with devastating consequences in bordering areas with Chad and Congo and in the capital, Bangui. Additional risks include the resurgence of Ebola in neighboring DRC and the presidential elections on 27 December 2020. Outbreaks of violence would likely result in more displacement and a further surge in humanitarian needs.
Response priorities in 2021
The humanitarian community assisted 1.4 million people between January and September 2020. These people comprised 78 per cent of the 2020 HRP targeted population, including those in hard-to-reach areas. Humanitarian actors were able to reach more people in 2020 compared to the previous year. This was despite an increasingly volatile security environment, logistical constraints such as dilapidated roads and bridges, and the absence of State services outside the capital. Three-quarters of beneficiaries have reported feeling safe accessing humanitarian assistance and are comfortable filing complaints with aid providers.
In 2021, humanitarian partners will further scale up integrated and multisectoral response approaches. This includes strengthened efforts to protect and assist the most vulnerable, including people living with disabilities, and women, girls and boys who are at risk of GBV. Better understanding of the barriers faced by people with disabilities and ensuring their full inclusion in targeting exercises will be prioritized, given that 57 per cent of people with disabilities reported not being able to access services. Improving feedback mechanisms will also be a priority, as 76 per cent of the affected civilians interviewed reported not knowing how to file a complaint.
Consultations to ensure accountability to affected populations will continue to be prioritized. Humanitarian partners will also continue their efforts to provide emergency assistance to communities in hard-to-reach areas through a conflict-sensitive access strategy and flexible, localized response mechanisms. Preparedness activities and response efforts will be a priority, due to the growing impact of climatic shocks. In the spirit of the Nexus, humanitarian actors will seek complementarity with durable solutions projects, social protection schemes and disaster risk reduction programmes in areas of convergence.