The Mangoes of Bambouti, Central African Republic

The Mango season in Bambouti, Central African Republic spans from April to August. This coincided with the arrival of almost 4,000 South Sudandese refugees in Bambouti. They face many challenges, amongst which, hunger in the horizon with the end of the mango season. The abundance of the mangoes have played down the effect of hunger.

In November 2015, about 4,050 men, women and children fleeing violence in the South Sudanese towns of Source Yubu and Ezo abandoned their livelihoods to find safe haven in Bambouti, a sub prefecture in a very remote south eastern part of the Central African Republic. Even though the arrival of the refugees has put much strain on natural resources in the area, nature has a way of answering this call.
One of the first things that catches the attention of a visitor to Bambouti is the abundance of mangoes and mango trees. The visitor actually may have the impression that every family owns a tree. The mangoes are everywhere. On the trees, under the trees, in homes and in very limited quantities in the local market. The abundance of fresh mangoes could greatly generate income for both the inhabitants and the newly arrived refugees in Bambouti. However this is sadly not the case.  The access roads linking Bambouti with the rest of the country are almost impossible to use during the mango season, which also coincides with the rainy season. The availability of the mangoes has provided a ready answer to the nutrition challenges facing both the locals and the refugees.

The inhabitants of Bambouti have developed a method to ferment the ripe mangoes to produce a liquor for local consumption called “bodamango". In other parts of CAR, the same process is used to transform honey into a liquor locally called "Angara" or “Douma”.

As the refugees continue to satisfy their hunger with the mangoes of Bambouti, there remains an urgent need for humanitarian actors to assist them with basic necessities. They have erected make shift shelters with palm tree branches and sticks, and these provide them with little protection from rain, rodents and reptiles. 

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