BANGUI, Central African Republic— The recent violence in the Central African Republic has plagued the nation and created an incredibly hostile environment. However, despite what the outside world may think, children in the Central African Republic are more likely to die from hunger than from a bullet.
Over 7% of children in the Central African Republic were reported this year to have severe acute malnutrition. The global threshold in which a situation in considered an emergency is 2%.
Even before the rebel crisis broke out in spring of 2014, 30% of the population was food insecure. The amount of children under the age of five labeled “chronically” malnourished was 41%. Even worse, these malnourished children are not receiving proper medical attention because most health centers have closed due to security issues in the violent environment that surrounds.
However, since the crisis, the issue of hunger in the Central African Republic has only continued to worsen. Today, 1.6 million people of the Central African Republic are in need of immediate food assistance. The World Food Programme reported findings that 90% of households were living on only one small meal a day.
This outstanding food crisis is largely due to the collapsing post-rebellion economy. Food stocks are reportedly a mere 20% of what they were before conflict broke out. Agricultural production has also decreased 40%, greatly contributing to the decline in proper food supply.
This immense malnutrition crisis and hunger in the Central African Republic is not only causing death due to starvation, but also causing many more detrimental physical effects, especially among children. Almost half of children under five in the nation are suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition and 25% are well underweight.
We can see the quick effects of the crisis in the numbers alone. Pediatric hospital registering has experienced a 62% increase in the number of children hospitalized with severe acute malnutrition compared to the previous year.
The hunger crisis has produced a huge influx of refugees fleeing mostly to Cameroon, where they are being discriminated against and deprived of fair-priced food. Over 290,000 refugees are reported to have left the Central African Republic so far, with another 650,000 internally displaced within the country.
Despite the overwhelming statistics, organizations around the world are taking action. This past year, the World Food Programme has provided food to more than 250,000 people per month. However, due to inadequate funding, the World Food Programme has had to decrease its stock plans for the food and is scrambling to replenish donations and proper funds.
The organization is optimistic that they will be able to continue their efforts at a stable rate, and hopeful that they will be able to save millions of lives despite the ongoing crisis.
– Cambria Arvizo