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Press Release 98/49 

FAO REPORTS FAMINE CONDITIONS IN SOME PARTS OF SUDAN, BUT SAYS MANY OTHER EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES SHOW FAVORABLE HARVEST PROSPECTS


Rome, 25 August - More than 1.2 million people in Sudan are facing famine conditions, with widespread reports of children dying from starvation in the Bahr-El-Ghazal region, according to a special report by FAO released today. However, the report calls Sub-Saharan Africa's current food outlook "mixed," noting favorable harvest prospects for much of eastern Africa, including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

The report finds the food situation precarious throughout southern Sudan, which has been affected by continuing strife and a poor 1997 harvest, adding: "Acute food shortages and severe malnutrition are on the rise despite stepped-up food aid distributions. Famine conditions have emerged in parts, particularly in Bahr-El-Gazal intensified fighting has resulted in fresh waves of population displacements. Nutrition surveys also show that the rate of severe malnutrition among children has increased up to 78 percent in some locations (Ajiep). In the worst affected states of Bahr-El-Ghazal, Eastern Equator, Western Upper Nile and Jonglei, the number of people facing famine conditions is estimated at 1.2 million."

The report says that food aid requirements of this population have been "revised upwards by more than 50 percent to 15,000 tons of food per month, mostly cereals and pulses." Overall, some 2.6 million people are believed to be in need of food assistance in Sudan, mostly in the south.

In Somalia, the report says that prospects for the 1998 main cereal crops are poor for crops currently being harvested. The area planted to maize and sorghum is estimated to be one-third below last year, which was already down from the previous year.

Several countries in western Africa also face food supply difficulties, mainly caused by civil strife or localized weather adversities in 1997, according to the report. In Sierra Leone, while the food situation has improved in Freetown and the center of the country where relatively peaceful conditions prevail, insecurity is rampant in the east and north where fighting has displaced the local farming population at a critical time of the cropping season.

Altogether, the report says 18 countries* in Africa are facing exceptional food emergencies. It says the causes are varied, including population displacement, civil strife, unfavorable weather, poor harvests and localized food deficits.

On a brighter note, according to the report, harvest prospects are generally favorable as of mid-1998 for most other East African counties, signaling some recovering from the disastrous effects of recent droughts and floods. In the Great Lakes region, the report finds that "despite continuing insecurity and population displacements in parts, food production is steadily recovering, with production currently approaching the pre-crisis levels of the early 1990s."

In southern Africa, the report says, food production has fallen significantly in a number of countries, largely associated with El Nino-related weather anomalies, while in a handful of others harvests have been above average.

*Countries facing exceptional food emergencies are:

Country

Reasons for emergency

Angola

Population displacement

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Civil strife, below-normal production, economic sanctions

Congo, Dem.Rep of

Refugees, civil strife and adverse weather affecting food production and distribution

Eritrea

Reduced harvest, large number of vulnerable people

Ethiopia

Large number of vulnerable people, localized weather adversities

The Gambia

Unfavorable weather

Guinea-Bissau

Civil strife, population displacements

Liberia

Impact of past civil disturbances, shortage of farm inputs

Mauritania

Localized deficits

Niger

Localized food deficits

Rwanda

Below normal production, insecurity, large number of vulnerable people

Senegal

Localized deficits

Sierra Leone

Civil strife, population displacement

Somalia

Poor harvest, civil strife

Sudan

Localized food deficits, civil strife

Uganda

Civil disturbances in parts

Zambia

Unfavorable weather, reduced harvest

******

The complete report, "Food supply situation and crop prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa", produced by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System is available on the World Wide Web at FAO's Home Page: http://www.fao.org/, click on Economics, next click on GIEWS Early Warning, then click on Food supply situation and crop prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 


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