After Coup, Economic Collapse: Instability Remains in Central African Republic
Bernadette, a grandmother in the capital city of Bangui, Central African Republic, cares for her granddaughter, who is being treated for malnutrition at an Action Against Hunger supported health center. Bernadette is staying with her granddaughter through treatment while her daughter, the little girl’s mother, keeps working—they cannot afford to lose what little income she brings in for the family.
Chaos since the coup
While she sits with her granddaughter, Bernadette tells us how the recent political upheaval has affected her community. Before the coup several months ago, the majority of people in the Central African Republic were living below the poverty line. But the current crisis means that thousands of people already living on the brink of survival are facing even more challenges. Since rebel groups took control in March, there has been chaos in the country—the economy has collapsed, and tens of thousands of people have fled due to ongoing violence. Those who have remained, like Bernadette and her family, are living in fear and struggling to make ends meet. She explains:
“We eat what we can find. Sometimes that means we don’t eat anything all day. We planted a small plot of cassava, but it takes time to grow. Because of the violence, we had to plant our crops late, and we are afraid to go to the fields.”
– Bernadette, grandmother from Bangui, Central African Republic
A crumbling capital city
Bernadette goes on to describe the poor state of the markets: “Before, we were selling bundles of wood to earn a little money. But it is becoming increasingly difficult. Now there is a crisis, and people cannot afford to buy wood.” The markets in the capital are suffering because of the economic collapse—the usual crops have all but disappeared, and people can barely afford the few items that are left for sale. Cecilia Blaustein, Action Against Hunger’s coordinator for Food Security and Livelihoods in the Central African Republic, explains that political and economic insecurity has had a serious impact on markets and other area businesses, making Bernadette’s situation all too common in Bangui:
“Because people are displaced and the economy has collapsed, the capital has limited resources. Today, far from the usual business activities in capital cities around the world, many people survive by farming small plots in the outskirts of the city.”
– Cecilia Blaustein, Coordinator, Food Security and Livelihoods, Action Against Hunger, Central African Republic
A decline in the availability and quality of food has dire consequences: the number of children with severe acute malnutrition admitted to fifteen health facilities supported by our teams in Bangui has increased by 50 percent compared to last year.
Faced with this growing vulnerability in Bangui and an alarming increase in malnutrition cases, we are expanding our programs in the Central African Republic. Beyond supporting health centers and treating malnourished children, we will be providing families with vouchers for food, helping farmers maintain their plots, and supporting local markets. Our goal is to restore self-sufficiency and normalcy for all families affected by the crisis in the Central African Republic.