Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is unknown to most of the world. Landlocked, with porous borders, frequent political coups, and with limited international trade, the country has not been able to develop its potential, despite having a wealth of natural resources and large amounts of arable land. CAR is currently ranked 179th of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index. Average life expectancy at birth is little more than 48 years. Those children who reach their fifth birthday, a critical development milestone, have little chance of seeing the inside of a classroom or a functioning health center. Sustainable economic opportunities are scarce; even with access to a livelihood, insecurity and impassable roads reduce national commerce to a trickle.
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|Population:||5,166,510 (2013 est.)|
|Size:||240,535 sq mi; slightly smaller than Texas|
|People Served:||144,182 (2012 est.)|
Catholic Relief Services' activities in the Central African Republic began in 1999 and initially focused on helping Church partners build stable peace in the country after several years of unrest. The aftermath of years of instability led to a large number of orphaned and/or vulnerable children. As such, three years after it began its work in the CAR, CRS sought to provide technical and financial support to the Church for the implementation of an Orphans and Vulnerable Children project. Beginning in 2006, however, the situation in CAR deteriorated. Fighting between the national army and other armed groups, as well as increased banditry and rebel activity, displaced tens of thousands of families in the northwest and north central areas of the country, and the northeast, where there was spillover from conflicts in Sudan and Chad. In response, CRS opened an office in CAR's capital, Bangui, in April of 2007, to contribute to the humanitarian effort through emergency aid to internally displaced people in the northwest.
Since that time, CRS has expanded our programs, working in partnership with the Church and other international and national non-governmental organizations to implement early recovery and development activities, with a focus on food security, HIV and AIDS awareness, orphans and vulnerable children, health infrastructure rehabilitation, education, microfinance, peacebuilding, and community protection and resiliency. CRS’ most recent projects have addressed the issue of chronic food insecurity in the country by hosting seed fairs, enabling people to have access to better-quality seeds and farming equipment and local vendors to yield higher dividends.