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Press Release 00/69 Joint FAO/WFP


ROME, 22 December 2000 - More than three million people in southern Sudan are facing serious food shortages because of civil strife and an emerging drought, according to a joint report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The report, a result of a joint FAO/WFP mission that visited 24 of Sudan's 26 states last month, said that the populations most affected by drought are in Darfur and Kordofan, East Equatoria, Jonglei and some parts of Bahr El Ghazal, where continued fighting exacerbates the drought conditions

Food stocks are dwindling rapidly while prices are going up -- already having risen three-fold compared to the same period last year. "Very high cereal prices coupled with fast falling livestock prices due to distress selling are particularly affecting pastoralists who need immediate assistance," says the report.

"Some 900,000 people are most affected by the current poor season with 600 000 in need of urgent food assistance. In addition, some 2.4 million people affected by the ongoing civil strife in the south will need continued food assistance in 2001."

Urgent assistance is also required to provide seeds and other agricultural inputs for the next cropping season that starts in June/July 2001 and to mitigate the severe water shortages in the most affected areas.

The emerging drought is affecting large parts of the countryand is causing critical water shortages for both humans and livestock, especially in Darfur and Kordafan, where people are already being forced to move in search of water.

In southern Sudan, prolonged dry spells between April and September in Jonglei, East Equatoria and Bahr el Jebel have decimated first-cycle crops, resulting in serious food deficits. In north Bahr el Ghazal, despite some localised surplus areas, a sizeable cereal deficit is anticipated due to erratic and unevenly distributed rains.

"In the eastern States (Kassala, Gedaref) and central States (Sennar, Blue Nile) there was a dry spell during the month of September which affected most of the late sown crops. It has caused a significant reduction in the productive area on the mechanized rainfed schemes. Poor quantity and distribution of rainfall has also severely affected Butana district in Gezira State which has harvested virtually no crop at all, " according to the report.

For some areas, this is the second or third consecutive poor rainy season. Drought is worsening the already fragile food situation in a country afflicted by civil strife.

The country will need to import 1.2 million tonnes of cereals, of which 1million tonnes are expected to be imported commercially and 200,000 as food aid, says the report. "Food aid pledges stand at 34,000 tones, leaving an uncovered gap of 138,000 tonnes."

Although aggregate cereal output for 2000 -- estimated at 3.6 million tonnes -- is about 14 percent higher than last year's crop, it is 18 percent below the previous five year average.

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The full report is available on the World Wide Web at the following address:

For further information contact:

John Riddle
FAO Media Relations
Telephone: (39) 06 5705-3259 Email:

Francis Mwanza
Telephone: (39) 06 6513-2623 Email:

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