Seasonably dry conditions prevailed in January and February. Cereal prices remain stable and similar to last year. Despite reduced cumulative rainfall compared to last year, favourable growing conditions prevailed and cereal output is estimated at about 1 300 tons. The cereal import requirement for 1996/97 (July/June) is estimated at 250 000 tons of wheat and rice.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (10 March)
Seasonably dry conditions prevailed in February. Limited rainfall in late January in the south allowed planting of yams.
For the 1997 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 39 000 tons, mainly wheat and rice. There are 27 000 assisted Sudanese refugees in the country. Approximately 5 000 Chadians also receive food assistance. Their nutritional status is reported to be adequate.
CONGO (18 March)
Rainfall remained low but widespread in January and February in the south and was abundant over the entire country in early March, allowing the planting of the second maize crop.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Staple foodcrops are roots, tubers and plantains, production of which is about 650 000 tons. Markets are well supplied with these crops. Cereal production is estimated at some 27 000 tons, mainly maize. For the 1996/97 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 123 000 tons, mostly wheat, including a structural food aid requirement of 2 000 tons.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (10 March)
Following widespread rains in January, precipitation decreased in February and stopped over the north. The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains and the country annually imports some 10 000 tons of wheat and rice, half of which is in the form of food aid.
GABON (18 March)
Rainfall was limited but widespread in January and February and became abundant in early March, allowing the planting of the second maize crop. The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tons. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly maize is estimated at around 25 000 tons. The country needs to import the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 74 000 tons. No food aid is necessary.
ZAIRE* (20 March)
There was abundant precipitation over the entire country in February and early March. The second maize crop is flowering/maturing in central parts and the south while rice is growing satisfactorily in the south. Land preparation for the first maize planting is underway in the north. Severe rainfall deficit was reported from June 1996 to January 1997 in the Bas Zaire area in the west, where it has substantially limited food production. Zairean government made a request for food and seed assistance in this area.
The food supply situation continues to deteriorate in eastern Zaire. Advances by insurgents have forced Rwandan refugees who had settled in the region and local Zairians to flee. Following those at Amisi and Lubutu, the refugee camps of Tingi Tingi have been abandoned by their 160 000 to 170 000 inhabitants in late February. Severe malnutrition is reported. Food aid distributions were underway in the camps but, as a result of poor infrastructure, food was difficult to transport to the area and only limited quantities could be supplied. Distributions are now impossible as refugees are moving and are dispersed in the forest. By mid-March, about 100 000 refugees and displaced persons were reported in Ubundu, about 100 kilometres south-east of Kisangani, where they were trying to cross the river. Rebels are now controlling Kisangani, the third largest town of Zaire. They are also advancing in southern Shaba where they have taken the town of Kabala. As the conflict continues to spread, UN agencies and NGOs had to leave Kisangani. As a result, relief operations will be particularly difficult to pursue in the region.
There are also an estimated 50 000 assisted and 119 000 unassisted Angolan refugees in southern Zaire. Most of the unassisted population is expected to return spontaneously, following the improvement of the situation. Around 110 000 Sudanese and 18 500 Ugandan refugees also remain in Zaire. In the Kasaļ region, approximately 600 000 displaced people, who arrived in 1992, fleeing ethnic violence in the Shaba region are present. Many of them are self sufficient, except in Mwene-Ditu, where their nutritional situation is reported to be critical.