New report puts number of countries needing emergency assistance at near record high

A near record number of countries are facing shortfalls in food supplies and will need emergency assistance, according to FAO's latest Foodcrops and Shortages report. Listing 37 countries in trouble, the report said, "In Central America and the Caribbean the first season crops have been adversely affected by El Niño". Drier than normal conditions forecast in the months ahead "could affect second season production, raising concern for planting of 1998 main season crops". The impact of El Niño forced the addition of five Central American countries to the FAO food problem list.

Responding to the worsening situation, on 2 December, FAO's Director-General and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme jointly approved an emergency operation funded at almost $9.4 million to provide six months of emergency food assistance to 323 000 people in the five stricken Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

The head of FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), Abdur Rashid, said, "With 37 countries on FAO's warning list, we are seeing the largest number of countries with food problems since 1984, when there were 40 on the list. If El Niño hits southern Africa with force, the number of countries in trouble could rise well above 40."

Countries in need of emergency assistance

The countries in need of emergency assistance are: Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Korea DPR, Laos, Liberia, Mauritania, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the Niger, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda.

23 December 1997

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