FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.2 - April 2001 p. 4

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Food Shortages and Emergencies Persist for some 60 Million People1/

Food shortages and emergencies caused by natural and man-made disasters continue to affect many countries in all regions of the world.

In eastern Africa, some 18 million people still rely on food assistance, following the severe drought last year, coupled with conflicts in parts. Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Eritrea account for about 16 million or 89 percent of the total. In Kenya, the severe drought last year seriously undermined the food security of nearly 4.4 million people. In Eritrea, more than 1.8 million people displaced by the war with Ethiopia and drought need food assistance. The outlook for the 2001 agricultural season, starting in the next few weeks, is bleak as farmers have not returned to their farms so far and large tracts of land are still inaccessible due to landmines. In Sudan, serious food shortages have emerged in western and southern parts due to drought. The long-running civil war is aggravating the situation by impeding rural households from cultivation. In Ethiopia, some 6.5 million people affected by successive droughts and the war with neighbouring Eritrea depend on food assistance. In southern Africa, cereal production in 2001 is forecast to fall sharply, mainly due to a prolonged mid-season dry spell and excessive rains that adversely affected food crops in most countries. Latest FAO forecast for the maize crop, which accounts for 75 percent of cereal production in southern Africa, points to a decrease of 27 percent compared to last year. In parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe some 900 000 people have been seriously affected by severe floods. Damage to infrastructure and housing, displacement of people, as well as crop losses are reported. In Angola, the food supply situation remains serious for over 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), with the number constantly increasing. In central Africa, the food supply situation remains precarious for the internally displaced people (IDPs) whose numbers continue to rise. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a serious humanitarian situation continues unabated, with the number of IDPs estimated at over 2 million and increasing. However, humanitarian assistance continues to be hampered by insecurity. In Burundi, food difficulties persist for the IDPs currently estimated at around 324 000. The recent escalation of conflict around the capital city, Bujumbura, has added to the number of the displaced. In Rwanda, despite significant increases in food production last season, food assistance is still needed for 267 000 drought-affected people in south eastern provinces. In western Africa, the food supply situation in parts of the Sahel has tightened, following reduced harvests, notably in Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, and food distributions to the affected populations are underway. Sierra Leone and Liberia remain heavily dependent on international food assistance, while Guinea is faced with rebel attacks in border areas which are affecting agricultural activities and have caused new population displacements.

In Asia, severe winter weather earlier this year has exacerbated an already difficult food supply situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolia, where large numbers of livestock, which provide an important source of livelihood and income for a large section of the population, have died. Food assistance is urgently required in parts. Elsewhere, successive drought in parts of north west India and Pakistan has resulted in reduced harvests and exposed large numbers of people to food shortages. Vulnerable groups in Cambodia and Lao PDR still require food assistance following last year's devastating monsoon floods. In the drought affected low-income food deficit countries of the CIS in Asia, particularly Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan, but also in Azerbaijan - some 4 million people continue to require international donor assistance to survive. In addition, further assistance with inputs is necessary if food production this year is to recover. Vulnerable populations in Karakalpakstan in northern Uzbekistan also need relief following critical shortages of irrigation water in 2000.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly one and a half million people continue to receive food assistance, mainly due to weather-induced crop losses. Recovery from Hurricane "Mitch" which hit Central America in 1998 has been slow in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador and a dry spell in the 2000 rainy season caused below-average yields. In El Salvador, moreover, several earthquakes in January and February caused serious damage to infrastructure and this will affect food production in 2001. In Haiti, food assistance continues to be needed due to chronic economic problems.

In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for about 1 million persons in the Balkans, notably in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but also for the conflict affected populations in the Russian Federation.

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