Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It measures 623,000 km² and is bordered in the north by Chad, in the east by Sudan, in the south by the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the West by Cameroon. It is located between 2° and 11° latitude north and 13° and 27° longitude east. The population of the Central African Republic is ethnically diverse and the unifying factor is Sangö, the national language, which is spoken throughout the country. The population, which was estimated at 4,250,000 inhabitants in 2007, is unevenly distributed, with an average density of 7 inhabitants per km2. The dependent population is in the majority, to the extent as those under 18 years of age and over the age of 60 represent 50 percent and 4 percent, respectively, of the total population.
Because of its geographic location, the Central African Republic benefits from favorable climatic conditions and is endowed with rich agricultural lands and enormous natural resources, such as wood, gold, and diamonds, the exploitation of which remains rudimentary and artisanal. The landlocked country of the Central Africa Republic (CAR) has rich agricultural lands, a favorable climate and significant natural resources. Yet it is currently among the least developed countries in the world, with a per capita GDP of US$458 (in 2008; UNDP, 2010c). The majority of CAR’s population of 4.5 million people (est. in 2010) earns their livelihood through agriculture (75 per cent of the workforce). Agriculture is also the main economic sector of the country; CAR earns 55 per cent of its annual GDP primarily though the production and sale of timber, cotton and livestock. Other main economic sectors are industry (15 per cent of GDP, primarily from diamond mining and sawmills) and services (30 per cent of GDP). CAR is home to a significant part of the Congo Basin rainforest, where little logging and exploitation has taken place to date due to poor infrastructure. The present climate of CAR is tropical, with a humid equatorial climate in the south and a Sahelo-Sudanian climate in the north. The country experiences hot, dry winters and mild to hot, wet summers.
- Agriculture and food security: Existing agricultural yields and productivity in CAR remain fragile, and already do not meet the food security needs of the country. Rainfall has a strong impact on soil productivity, the selection of appropriate crops, and pastures; any change in rainfall patterns therefore will impact the productivity of the agricultural and pastoral system. Flooding along the country’s rivers has been identified as the principal threat for both farmland and pastures.
- Forestry: Changes in temperature and subsequent shifts in rainfall distribution could have significant impacts on the country’s forest resources, and on the populations that depend on these resources. This threat is most acute in the north of the country, where desertification is already a significant challenge. Although there is significant variability among different forest regions across the country, some of the common threats include: bushfires, drought, violent winds, over-exploitation of forest resources, population growth, and seasonal illness and disease.
- Water resources: Water resources in the country’s two principal basins (the Chari and the Obangui) are expected to suffer from declining volume and quality.
- Health: The country already faces significant health challenges due to poor sanitation, low access to potable water and a high prevalence of HIV infection (15 per cent of the population). Health risks, particularly water-borne risks, increase during the dry season; the northern part of the country, for example, is afflicted by an increased prevalence of meningitis during the dry season. The vulnerability of CAR to climate change is increased by the significant proportion of the population that lacks easy access to health services, and by low public awareness of climate-related health risks and the non-existence of management systems to address (and prevent) these problems. Women, children and the elderly are most vulnerable to climate-related health threats.
- Energy: CAR has significant potential for the development of hydroelectricity, but this form of energy production is likely to be impacted by future changes in annual rainfall distribution (spatial and temporal) and volume.
- Under the UNFCCC, CAR has submitted its First National Communication (2003) and its National Adaptation Programme of Action (CMEFCPE, 2008). Both of these documents were prepared by the Ministry responsible for the environment.
- No explicit mention of climate change adaptation has been included in the country’s most recent Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper progress report.
- Climate change policies are typically well-aligned with the CAR’s National Action Plan to Fight against Desertification and the National Biodiversity Strategy (GEF, 2010).
- A US$5.56 million project partially funded by the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) on strengthening climate risk management capacity for enhanced food security and rural livelihoods that was approved in January 2011. The project, “Integrated Adaptation Programme to Combat the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Production and Food Security in CAR,” includes a mix of capacity building, knowledge sharing and policy formation. It will concentrate on the agricultural sector, which was identified in the 2008 NAPA as an area of key vulnerability. The project will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture. This new project is well aligned with the objectives of the CAR’s first National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSPI, 2008-2010), which focused on agricultural development and sustainability as a key issue in the strategy of “Rebuild and Diversify the Economy” (GEF, 2010b). This project also supports a US$1.2 million national government program on revitalizing the agricultural sector; it will do so by “promoting sustainable agricultural development through the reinforcement of climate risk management capacity” (GEF, 2010b).
- On a regional level, CAR is participating in the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program, co-financed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Their project, “Altering the Climate of Poverty under Climate Change: The forests of the Congo Basin,” aims to underscore the importance of the Congo Basin forests in climate change adaptation efforts. This research and policy formation project is also being implemented in neighboring Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and will rely on community participation and perspectives in all three countries to develop appropriate forest management strategies. It is being implemented by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and is part of their larger global program on enhancing the role of forests in climate change adaptation (IDRC, 2008).
- As part of the Lake Chad watershed, CAR is also participating in the six-year “Lake Chad Sustainable Development Support Program,” a five-country, US$95 million effort to promote sustainable development in the Lake Chad Basin and reverse the watershed’s decline. One of the project’s specific objectives is to improve the adaptive capacity of the lake’s productive systems to climate change. For CAR, the project will include a significant research component on the feasibility and implementation options for transferring waters from the Oubangui River (in CAR) to the lake (AfDB, 2009).
- As a member of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), CAR will also benefit from COMIFAC’s current project on climate change scenarios for the Congo Basin. The extent of activities being carried out in CAR under the project is unknown, but it is hoped that these scenarios will enable decision makers in the country and throughout the COMIFAC region to adapt and prepare their natural resource management strategies to meet the regional challenges of climate change (BMU, 2010).
- African Development Bank [AfDB] (2009). Lake Chad Sustainable Development Support Program (PRODEBALT). African Development Bank: Tunis.
- Bundesministeriums fur Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorischerheit [BMU] (2010). Climate Change Scenarios for the Congo Basin.
- Central African Republic Ministere des Eaux, Forets, Chasse & Peche et de l’Environnement [CMEFCPE] (2008). Programme D’action National d’adaptation (PANA) aux Changements Climatiques.
- Global Environment Facility [GEF] (2010). Project Identification Form: Integrated Adaptation Programme to Combat the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Production and Food Security in Central African Republic. GEF: Washington.
- International Development Research Centre [IDRC] (2008). Altering the Climate of Poverty under Climate Change: The forests of Congo Basin. IDRC: Ottawa.
- United National Development Programme [UNDP] (2010). Human Development Report 2010: The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development. New York: United Nations Development Programme.
- United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] (2010). State of World Population 2010: From conflict and crisis to renewal: generations of change, United Nations Population Fund: New York.
- World Bank (undated). Climate Change Knowledge Portal.