Press Release 01/48
17 COUNTRIES ARE FACING EXCEPTIONAL FOOD EMERGENCIES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
FAO CONCERNED ABOUT DETERIORATING FOOD SITUATION IN SUDAN, SOMALIA AND ZIMBABWE
Nairobi/Rome, 1 August - In sub-Saharan Africa, 17 countries are facing
exceptional food emergencies caused by difficult weather conditions, persistent
civil strife and insecurity, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
said in a new report published today (Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects
in sub-Saharan Africa).
In the Horn of Africa, the spectre of another drought is haunting several
countries. In Sudan, the recent escalation of the conflict in the south has
displaced a large number of people and aggravated the already precarious
food situation due to drought, FAO said. In Somalia, serious food shortages
are anticipated. In southern Africa, food production has significantly declined
in several countries. In Zimbabwe, the food situation gives serious cause
for concern, according to the report.
"All possible efforts should be made to arrest the deteriorating food situation
in Sudan and Somalia," said Abdur Rashid, Chief Global Information and Early
Warning Service. "Zimbabwe's food outlook to the next harvest is bleak and
calls for contingency plans for food assistance in the coming months."
In Sudan, the number of people that need assistance is currently estimated
at about 3 million and is expected to increase. The situation is particularly
grave in Bahr-El-Ghazal where escalation of the civil conflict was most
pronounced, according to the report. "Elsewhere, poor harvests for two
consecutive years and depletion of stocks have led to a sharp increase in
cereal prices, reducing access to food for large segments of the population."
Many farmers and other vulnerable groups have migrated in search for work
and food. "There is an urgent need for more food aid and support for logistics
if starvation is to be avoided."
In Somalia, prospects for the 2001 main "gu" cereal crops are poor due to
insufficient rains. Despite the good harvests in the last two seasons, severe
food difficulties may emerge reflecting the poor rains, slow recovery from
a succession of droughts and long-term effects of years of insecurity. Food
prices have sharply increased, eroding the purchasing power of many people.
In southern Africa, a combination of long dry spells, severe floods and
disruption of farming activities in parts has resulted in significant production
shortfalls in the sub-region.
In Zimbabwe, "the food supply situation is tight for large sections of the
population," the report stated. This year's main maize crop is estimated
at some 1.5 million tonnes, 28 percent lower than last year. "Cereal production
has been affected by a sharp decline in the area planted on the large scale
commercial farms due to disruption by land acquisition activities, and in
the communal farm sector by payment delays by the Grain Marketing Board."
In rural areas, the most affected are farmers who harvested a poor crop due
to the dry spell in January and excessive rain in February-March, as well
as those who have not yet recovered from the impact of cyclone Eline last
year, mainly in the southern parts. "Farm workers who lost their jobs as
a result of farm invasions or land acquisitions, and vulnerable populations
in the chronically food insecure areas also face a difficult food situation.
In urban areas, declining real incomes, rising cost of food and non-food
items and acute shortages of fuel due to scarcity of foreign exchange, are
seriously affecting low-income households."
In Ethiopia, favourable current "belg" rains and last year's bumper "meher"
cereal and pulse crop have significantly improved the overall food supply
situation in the country. However, some 6.5 million people affected by successive
droughts and the war with Eritrea depend on food assistance. In Eritrea,
the food outlook remains bleak with large numbers of the displaced farmers
unable to return to their farms and large tracts of land still inaccessible
due to landmines.
In Kenya, despite an overall improvement in food supply, inadequate rains
in May and June, particularly in pastoral districts, have dimmed hopes of
recovery from the effects of the recent devastating drought.
In southern Africa, food production has significantly declined in several
countries, due to lower plantings and adverse weather. Maize output, which
accounts for over 90 percent of the subregions's total cereal production,
is estimated at 13.7 million tonnes, 26 percent lower than in 2000 and well
below average. In Swaziland and Lesotho, import requirements have increased
sharply compared to last year due to large drops in 2001 cereal production.
Also Zambia, Namibia and Botswana have suffered significant declines in coarse
grain production. By contrast, this year's cereal production in Angola is
estimated to be significantly above last year's. However, over 1.3 million
internally displaced people need emergency food aid.
In western Africa, the food situation is particularly tight in parts of Burkina
Faso, Chad, Niger and Liberia.
Food emergencies persist in the Great Lakes region. In the Democratic Republic
of Congo, the food and nutrition situation of an estimated 2 million internally
displaced people is very serious. In Burundi, increased insecurity has displaced
large numbers of rural people, disrupting food production and marketing
activities, while in Rwanda the security situation remains precarious in
17 countries facing exceptional food emergencies:
Angola: civil strife, population displacement;
Burkina Faso: drought;
Burundi: civil strife and insecurity;
Chad:drought; Congo, Democratic Republic
of: civil strife, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees;
Eritrea: IDPs, returnees and drought;
Ethiopia: drought, IDPs;
Guinea: civil strife, population displacement;
Kenya: drought; Liberia: past civil
strife, shortage of inputs; Niger: drought;
Rwanda: droughts in parts; Sierra
Leone: civil strife, population displacement;
Somalia: drought, civil strife;
Sudan: civil strife in the south, drought;
Tanzania: food deficits in several regions due to drought
Uganda: civil strife in parts, drought.
The report is available on the Internet at:
For more information please call the FAO Media Relations Office, Tel: