In the half of 2022, the CAR Humanitarian Fund allocated US$9.6 million to 17 projects, supporting 187,307 people with urgent needs in conflict-affected areas.
Thousands of Central Africans affected by recent torrential rains.
After several years of displacement, humanitarian and development actors are helping internally displaced persons and refugees to resume normal lives.
With 50 per cent of the population not eating enough, CAR has one of the highest proportions of critically food-insecure people in the world.
The humanitarian community in CAR plans to provide multi-sectoral assistance to 2 million people in 2022. US$461.3 million will be required.
1.3 million Central Africans received life-saving multi-sectoral assistance in 2021 through 54 projects funded by the Central African Republic Humanitarian Fund (CAR HF), a pooled emergency funding mechanism. Among them, Abella Sessepou, aged 23, who fled her village of Ouaka 1, located 85 km from Ippy, to take refuge at the Etomane IDP site in Ippy. She is the mother of two children, one of whom was born prematurely and receives free care from the NGO Médecins du Monde France (MDM) thanks to an emergency aid project funded by the CAR HF.
"Our house was burnt down. When we fled, we lost everything. I don't know in which direction my husband left. To this day, I have no news from him. I found refuge at the Etomane site with my son. As I was pregnant, I received assistance from the NGO MDM. I could undergo prenatal consultations, received care and was able to do some tests before the birth. Everything was free. My baby was born premature at seven and a half months. He is still under medical supervision at the health centre in Ippy. We are so lucky that health care and even food is free", says Abella. Like her and her family, 602,000 Central Africans are currently internally displaced, while 738,000 others have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, fleeing violent clashes that have lasted for more than a decade.
"At the site where we live, conditions are difficult. We have many needs, but at least health care is something less to worry about. The assistance provided by the NGO MDM has saved my son's life. I wouldn't know what to do if I had to pay for the care we received, because I don't have any means at the moment", Abella says. This is the concern of many Central Africans caught in the conflict.
A flexible funding tool
In its classic form, the humanitarian programme cycle provides a common understanding of the most urgent needs and the priorities and parameters of the humanitarian community's strategic response. However, the level of fundraising in the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plan does not always keep pace with the level of needs, particularly in sudden-onset emergencies. This is where the use of the Humanitarian Fund, thanks to the generosity of its donors, enables the humanitarian community to cover vital under-funded needs and sudden-onset emergencies in a timely, efficient and coordinated manner.
In this framework, 23.3 million US dollars were allocated in 2021 to 35 humanitarian organisations in CAR (UN agencies, national and international NGOs) to meet the most urgent needs of 1.3 million Central Africans in the areas of food security, protection, the fight against gender-based violence, health care and water, hygiene and sanitation.
For more information on the activities of the CAR HF in 2021, see the annual report here.
Floods again severely affected the Central African Republic
At least nine people killed, nearly 2,000 houses and a dozen bridges destroyed, and thousands of latrines and wells flooded. This is the preliminary assessment by several sources after the torrential rains that hit the Bangui, Ombella M'Poko, Lobaye, Nana-Gribizi, Ouham-Pendé and Ouham-Fafa Prefectures between 21 and 23 July. More than 21,700 people have lost their homes and have taken shelter in host families, schools and churches.
Even though the torrential rains have stopped for now, damaged houses continue to collapse and the number of victims and the extent of the damage is expected to rise further. And the weather forecast indicates again a high probability of further rainfall in the country. Bangui, the capital, has been the most affected so far, particularly the 6th district. These latest floods come at a time when humanitarian needs have increased exponentially across the country, with more than half of the Central African population in need of assistance and protection – 3.1 million people.
The last major floods occurred in 2019. Some 100,000 people lost their homes and access to clean water, and most of them were forced to move to temporary sites or host families. At that time, 3 per cent of all displaced people in the Central African Republic were displaced by natural disasters.
In response to the current situation, the government's strategy is to provide humanitarian assistance in the affected neighborhoods, coupled with disaster mitigation and recovery measures.
Disaster victims need assistance
On 23 July, the Ministry of Humanitarian Action, Solidarity and National Reconciliation brought together specialized state actors, representatives of the affected districts, humanitarian and development actors, and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to set up a coordinated response structure, co-facilitated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
According to the initial assessments made by the National Red Cross, supported by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), and the Directorate General of Civil Protection (DGPC), the most urgent needs were emergency shelters and other non-food items.
In an emergency response, 1,843 families received non-food items, including tarpaulins, mats, buckets, kitchen items, blankets and jerry cans in five neighborhoods in Bangui and adjacent Bimbo, distributed by humanitarian partners IFRC, the National Red Cross, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the NGO GROUFEPA, and supported by the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and the governmental initiative PARET. The World Health Organization (WHO) supported the Ministry of Health with mobile clinics in different neighborhoods of Bangui.
To further assess people’s needs, humanitarian actors – IOM, the National Red Cross and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster – have launched assessments in the affected neighborhoods of Bangui and its surroundings. In parallel, humanitarian actors are consolidating their emergency stocks to fill any gaps not covered by the government assistance, in a context where resources to meet the humanitarian needs are heavily stretched. To date, only 47 per cent of the USD 461 million needed in the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plan for CAR have been mobilized.
In Moyenne Sido, in the Ouham-Fafa Prefecture, the NGO Solidarités International distributed non-food items to 731 affected families between 24 and 27 July as part of the rapid response mechanism. The NGO also rehabilitated 15 water points contaminated or destroyed by the floods. Similar assistance for 834 families is planned in Kabo. What is needed now is building materials to rehabilitate damaged and destroyed houses. OCHA is advocating for the mobilisation of this aid.
The floods come after the adoption of the new National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management on 13 July. It is built around four strategic axes, including risk identification and analysis, disaster risk governance, strengthening disaster risk management mechanisms, and disaster emergency management. However, the operationalization of the implementing bodies awaits the signing of a presidential decree.
In September 2020, the NGO REACH published a study of flood susceptibility in populated areas. The study developed a flood risk score, aimed at improving emergency preparedness initiatives, and supporting planning and decision-making. Funded by the Humanitarian Fund for the Central African Republic (CAR), the data from this study was cross-referenced with data from multi-sectoral needs assessments conducted in 2019. The final result was made available to the authorities, revealing, for example, higher impact risks of flooding in Ouham and Kémo Prefectures (more than 203,000 people at high risk), while Nana-Mambéré and Ouham-Pendé had low risk scores.
The study also showed that most Central African settlements are located next to rivers and their basins, around which people's livelihoods are developed. The banks of these rivers tend to overflow with increasing amounts of rainfall collected in the basins. Thus, if infrastructure adaptation, as well as contingency planning are not developed, downstream interventions will not be sufficient for populations already battered by more than a decade of conflict and several other shocks.
For better preparedness
To ensure optimal preparation for flooding, a Technical Operational Committee was set up in 2020 under the aegis of the Ministry of Humanitarian Action, Solidarity and National Reconciliation, with the participation of OCHA, the DGPC, the Central African Red Cross, MINUSCA and the Bangui City Council. This new structure has coordinated field visits in Bangui to identify areas at risk and priority preparedness measures.
The extensive impacts of the floods highlighted coordination problems in terms of standardizing the data provided by various actors, the lack of people trained in post-disaster assessments and the lack of clear guidelines for assessments. The lack of a common data storage/management platform, including mapping, has also been a weakness.
In response, OCHA in collaboration with the NGO REACH and the IFRC, has been building the capacity of 45 volunteers from the National Red Cross and the DGPC on post-disaster assessment since 2021. These volunteers are currently part of the teams assessing the situation.