A mother and baby, beneficiaries at the Caritas Health Centre, receive a bowl of yellow split peas. Copyright: WFP / Susan Bounford
WFP has been providing food at the Caritas health centre in the rural area of Bohong, Ouham Pende in the north-west of Central African Republic since 2006. The area was the scene of conflicts between armed political groups and the government as well as bandits, causing many people to leave their homes.
BOHONG - “Each week WFP food helps these individuals regain their strength and improve their nutritional status,” said Marcel Nzambo, nurse and head of the centre. 68 patients, including malnourished women and children and people living with HIV, currently receive food assistance at the centre. In addition, they receive awareness messages on hygiene and nutritional practices, which they can then share with their families.
Mariamma, a beneficiary at the centre, has 11 children whose ages range from 1 to 22. She started receiving WFP food in 2006 when she and her family were displaced and fled to Niem Yelewa some 100 km away. The family returned to Bohong when the security situation was calmer. In 2007, when she came to the centre to take her anti-retroviral treatment, she was enrolled in the WFP programme as she was malnourished and underweight.
‘I was weak but WFP food helped my health’ said Mariamma. Since then, Mariamma has been enrolled in WFP nutritional programmes for pregnant and nursing women during each pregnancy when she was underweight.
Mariamma's diet is central to how well she feels. "If I don’t find WFP food, I am not in good health," she said. She is currently once again enrolled on the WFP HIV programme, following a relapse into malnutrition after a recent pregnancy. “Eating dates and drinking water gives you strength as if you have just eaten,” she said, referring to a supplementary ration of dates she recently received.
But Mariamma and her husband have now started to rebuild their livelihood since returning by planting manioc. Some is used for home consumption and some sold. They lost everything, but are now rebuilding their assets little by little. She hopes to be able to increase the amount planted and grow other crops as her strength returns.