The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has acknowledged that it may have to cut food aid in the Central African Republic (CAR) because of lack of funds. The agency is subsequently facing a shortfall amounting to US$15 million over the coming months. It needs US$6.6 million to maintain current projects in the country. Unless funding is attained, tens of thousands of people will now face hunger and starvation.
The WFP assists approximately 600,000 people in the northern conflict ridden region while also consequently aiding 9,100 refugees from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the eastern regions of the country. ‘The additional needs stretched our resources to the limit,’ said WFP country director Sitta Kai-Kai. ‘If funds are not available in the next two months, we will have to reduce rations for some of the 100,000 refugees and displaced and even entirely suspend food assistance for others.’ Commentators are concerned that the suspension of food assistance may add to tensions amongst the host population.
It is also feared that if funding is not located before schools in the region re-open (October) that children receiving school meals will have to manage on reduced rations. 150,000 school children in the country receive school meals and of those, 17,000 are acutely malnourished. The WFP’s efforts have been directed towards helping some of these children as well as 15,000 pregnant and nursing mothers at nutrition centres across the region.
Food aid often takes between four to five months to be delivered to the country, which means that it is imperative for the WFP to find donors as soon as possible.
CAR will not be the only nation affected by the WFP’s shortfall as populations in Niger, Mali and Chad are also facing starvation and malnutrition following months of unpredictable weather conditions. Countless humanitarian agencies have appealed for funding; it is believed that US$113.6 million is urgently needed to help alleviate those who need help.