FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.1, April 2000 4

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Recent weather-related hazards have dealt a severe blow to sub-Saharan Africa's food security. While the worst floods in nearly half a century have ravaged southern areas of Mozambique and caused extensive damage in Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, severe cyclones have devastated parts of Madagascar. By contrast, several countries of eastern Africa have been seriously affected by a prolonged drought rendering some 16 million people in the sub-region in need of urgent relief assistance. The situation also remains bleak in Angola and parts of Great Lakes region, mainly due to persistent civil conflicts which have seriously compromised production, disrupted distribution activities and triggered massive population displacements. There are, however, some positive signs. In the Sahelian countries of western Africa, above-average to record harvests have been gathered, boosting food supplies for the new marketing year. A significant step towards food security has been the initiation of the process of restoration of political stability in Sierra Leone and a continued gradual recovery of foodcrop production in Liberia. Nevertheless, the overall picture is of another year of tight food supplies in sub-Saharan Africa, with cereal import and food aid requirements projected to remain high in 2000.


The worst floods in nearly half a century have devastated parts of southern Africa, causing loss of life and seriously threatening food supplies. Damage to housing, property and infrastructure has also been extensive, and the affected countries will need substantial external relief and rehabilitation assistance. Based on past experience, the sub-region has developed contingency plans against drought. However, given the magnitude of flood problems faced by the sub-region this year, priority attention will also be needed to develop contingency plans for devastating floods and cyclones.

Southern and central Mozambique have borne the brunt of the floods with severe damage and destruction inflicted on crops (both in fields and stores) and livestock, as well as to housing and communication and transport infrastructure (roads, bridges, railways, telephone lines, etc.). A full assessment of the agriculture and livestock damage is not yet available. However, near-total crop losses are almost certain in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, where the most productive areas such as Boane and Chokwe had been completely submerged, while serious losses are expected in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala. Substantial livestock losses are also reported. In these traditionally food-deficit provinces, the sharp reduction in cereal production in 2000 will be aggravated by loss of farmers' food and seed stocks. With some 1.9 million people affected by the disaster, it is anticipated that large numbers of people will require food assistance until the next main harvest in April 2001.

There is a pressing need for seeds and agricultural tools and for the restocking of livestock. In the medium to long term, Mozambique will need massive international assistance for the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector and the reconstruction of its damaged infrastructure. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is scheduled to visit the country in mid-April to assess the impact of the floods on food production and the food supply situation and estimate the country's food import, including food aid, requirements for the marketing year 2000/01.

In Madagascar, heavy rains and high force winds following Cyclones "Eline" on 17 February and "Gloria" on 2 March, have resulted in severe damage to infrastructure and left over 10 000 people homeless. Worst affected areas are the north and central areas of the east coast, including the cities of Andapa, Vatomandry, Mahanoro and Belo-Tsiribihina. Preliminary reports indicate that about 560 000 people have been affected to varying degrees by the cyclone. Access to the affected people remains difficult due to damage to main roads and bridges. The Government has appealed for international assistance to cope with the emergency

The impact on the agriculture sector is not yet assessed but crop losses are reported in low-lying areas. Prospects for the 2000 paddy crop, already poor due to erratic and below-average rains, have deteriorated with the flood damage. This year's paddy crop, to be harvested from April is, therefore, anticipated to be significantly reduced. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission will visit the country shortly to assess the effects of cyclones on crop production and food supply situation and estimate food import and food aid needs for the next marketing year.

In South Africa, heavy rains and floods in the second half of March affected the Kwa Zulu-Natal province and parts of the Northern and Mpumalgna provinces. These latter two provinces were seriously affected by floods in early February and subsequently by cyclone "Eline", which resulted in further damage to housing and infrastructure, as well as heavy losses to pulses, maize and vegetables. The Government has provided relief assistance in the affected areas. Notwithstanding the localized flood damage, the overall harvest outlook for maize crop remains favourable since the floods only marginally affected the maize belt.

In Zimbabwe, heavy rains in the second half of March aggravated the flood situation caused by cyclone "Eline" on 17 February in the eastern and southern provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland, bordering Mozambique and South Africa. Floods have severely damaged roads, bridges and dams. An estimated 500 000 people have been affected, of whom 250 000 are in need of assistance. The Government has declared the three affected provinces as disaster zones and has appealed to the international community for US$21 million to assist the affected population. The damage to infrastructure has further compounded the production and distribution problems caused by severe fuel shortages.

Preliminary Government estimates indicate that 30 000 hectares of crops have been destroyed and 17 000 livestock lost. However, the floods have not affected the main maize growing areas of the north-east, where the bulk of cereal crops is produced. Nevertheless, this year's maize production, which normally represents 90 percent of total cereal output, is forecast to decline due to a reduction in the planted area. Heavy rains since mid-February may also result in yield reductions.

In Botswana, cyclone Eline aggravated the already serious situation caused by flooding in early February which destroyed some 10 000 homes. The number of affected people is estimated at 73 000. Before the cyclone, the Government had estimated the flood damage at US$8.5 million and appealed for international assistance to deal with the emergency. An assessment of crop losses in the eastern growing areas is not yet available. However, there is great concern over the effect of the floods on livestock, which is of great importance to farmers' food security.

In Malawi, heavy rains in mid-March in southern areas bordering Mozambique resulted in severe damage to housing and infrastructure, and crop and livestock losses. Preliminary estimates indicate that 10 000 people have been displaced by the floodwaters. Worst affected areas are those along the Lower Shire Valley, particularly the districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa. Emergency food and non-food assistance is urgently required for these populations.

In Angola, the food situation remains extremely critical for about 2 million internally displaced people as a result of the persistent civil war. The escalation of the conflict in recent months has resulted in further displacement of population, particularly along the borders with Namibia and Zambia. Malnutrition is on the increase, as persistent insecurity hampers distribution of emergency food assistance in several parts. Currently, food aid is being provided to some 1.1 million people.

Elsewhere in southern Africa, heavy flooding in Zambia, due to the overflow of the Zambezi river in early March, has resulted in the closure of roads in the river basin, but the overall prospects for the cereal crop remain satisfactory. In Swaziland, harvest prospects are unfavourable following crop losses caused by floods in early February.


Between April and June 2000, a series of joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are planned to southern and central Africa, including Mozambique, Madagascar, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. The Missions will assess the damage caused by adverse weather (floods and cyclones) in Mozambique and Madagascar, and persistent civil unrest, in Angola, DRC and Burundi, to crops and livestock and its implications on the overall food supply situation of these countries. Estimates of cereal and other foodcrop production will be made together with the cereal import and food aid requirements for new marketing years of the respective countries. The tentative dates of these Mission are as follows:

April-May 2000

Democratic Republic of Congo

June 2000



Severe food shortages have emerged in several east African countries mainly due to drought-induced crop and livestock losses. Pastoralists in the sub-region have been the worst affected by a succession of poor rains which have led to losses of large numbers of their livestock. Past or ongoing civil strife and conflicts in parts are also disrupting food production and distribution, resulting in food shortages and population displacements. Substantial food assistance will be needed through 2000 for an estimated 16 million people in the sub-region.

In Ethiopia, the food supply situation in the pastoral areas of the east and south, particularly the Somali Region, which have had three consecutive years of little or no rainfall, gives cause for serious concern. The current drought has killed large numbers of livestock and people are migrating in search of water and food. In the country as a whole, the food supply situation is very tight for more than 8 million people, including some 400 000 displaced by the border war with Eritrea. The December 1999 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission forecast a below-average Belg crop of about 250 000 tonnes, due to shortages of draught oxen and seed. Based on the production forecast in December, the Mission estimated the national import requirement in 2000 at 764 000 tonnes, to be covered by food aid. However, with poor rainfall during the current Belg season, the food aid requirement could increase significantly.

In Eritrea, the food situation is very tight for nearly 600 000 people affected by the war with Ethiopia and the prevailing drought along the coastal areas. Prices of cereals are unseasonably high. In January 2000, prices of red sorghum, white wheat and barley were higher by about 15, 27 and 23 percent respectively, compared to January 1999. Livestock prices have also increased. In January 2000, the UN Country Team appealed for US$42.7 million to assist some 372 000 war-affected and over 211 000 drought-affected people.

In Kenya, The food supply situation is critical in the northern, eastern and north-western pastoral districts and in parts of Central, Coast and Rift Valley provinces affected by drought during the 1999/2000 "short rains" season. In the pastoral areas, the "short rains" (November-January) are crucial for the replenishment of water supplies and pastures after the dry season, while in agricultural areas, crops from the short rains season provide the bulk of food supplies. The Government has appealed to the international community for emergency assistance until the next harvest from July. It is estimated that more than 2.7 million people are in need of food assistance. Worst affected districts include Turkana, Mandera, Moyale, Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Mbeere, Kitui, Wajir, Mwingi, Tana River, Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot, Makueni, and Tharaka Nithi. Prices of maize, the key staple in the country, have increased sharply in most parts, reducing access to food for a large number of people. In January, maize prices were up to 50 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. Increasing malnutrition and health problems are reported. Adequate rainfall during the current season (March to May) will be crucial for improved food security in north-western and eastern provinces.

In Somalia, despite anticipated food supply improvement in the southern parts with a better Deyr harvest, nearly 526 000 people in 6 regions are facing severe food shortages, requiring food aid estimated at 14 200 tonnes. Hardest hit are farmers in Huddur, Wajid and Rab-Dure districts in Bakool Region, where many have left their villages in search of food. Furthermore, the food supply situation remains tight for the agro-pastoralists in Gedo, Bay and Hiran regions due to successive poor harvests and population displacements. In north-western Somalia (Somaliland), despite fast depletion of pasture and water supplies due to a high influx of pastoralists from neighbouring Ethiopia, overall livestock and food supply conditions are stable. In north-eastern Somalia (Puntland), livestock conditions improved in parts with good Deyr season rains, but increased livestock concentration and overgrazing is of concern.

Food aid deliveries to some regions improved during January 2000 with nearly 1 300 tonnes distributed in Bay region alone. However, a slowdown of relief effort was reported in February due to attacks on humanitarian workers.

In Tanzania, precipitation during the short rains ("Vuli") season was generally inadequate and particularly poor in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga Regions, prompting farmers to drastically reduce plantings and affecting yields. This followed the below-average main harvest in 1999. However, the overall food supply situation is stable, reflecting large maize imports in the second half of 1999 and the maize export ban imposed by the Government. In January 2000, maize prices in many markets throughout the country were lower by up to 56 percent compared with the same period last year. Bean prices were lower by up to 41 percent. However, food assistance is required for nearly 800 000 food insecure people, mainly in the regions of Dodoma, Mara, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, Tanga and southern Mwanza, all of whom have suffered their third consecutive poor harvest. WFP school-feeding programme began in January in 128 primary schools in Dodoma region and is expected to expand to Arusha and Singida regions.

In Sudan, despite an overall stable food supply situation, about 103 000 tonnes of food aid is needed for some 2.4 million people affected by drought and the long-running civil conflict. Major cereal deficits are estimated in Unity State, which has suffered greatly from internecine fighting and Government/rebel clashes, in Lakes and Bahr el Jebel States due mainly to floods, and in many localities throughout Jonglei, Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria where weather conditions were unfavourable.

In Uganda, the food supply situation has deteriorated in Kotido and Moroto districts, with nearly 215 000 people needing urgent food assistance, mainly due to a poor harvest last season and loss of cattle due to raids. Also, the food situation in Gulu and Kitgum districts gives cause for concern due to renewed civil conflict. Furthermore, food assistance continues to be needed for nearly 112 000 people in Bundibugyo District displaced by civil strife.


Food security in the Great Lakes region continues to be undermined by the combined effects of civil strife, insecurity and shortages of inputs, aggravated by erratic rainfall.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the persistent civil conflict in several parts continues to cause large scale population movements. Recent displacements are reported in the Kalange area of South Kivu around Bukavu, where 24 000 people have taken refuge in Katana and Kabare zones since the beginning of the year. Nutrition studies indicate that around 8 percent of children in this population are severely malnourished. In general, food shortages and high rates of malnutrition are reported among the displaced people in north-eastern Katanga, South Kivu and Ituri area of Upper Congo. Meanwhile, insecurity severely restricts relief operations. The food situation is also extremely difficult in urban areas, which have been cut-off from vital supply routes since the start of the conflict. In particular, the situation is critical in Kinshasa where high levels of inflation have eroded the purchasing power of the majority of the population. Recent nutritional surveys in Kinshasa show an increase in child malnutrition, particularly in the surrounding rural areas.

In Burundi, the overall food supply situation is tight following the poor 2000 season "A" harvest, which was affected by severe dry weather and the displacement and regroupment in camps of some 13 percent of the population. The Government is in the process of dismantling these camps where the food and health conditions of the population are very poor and malnutrition is widespread. By early March over 50 camps had been closed. Food assistance is needed for the people still in the camps, as well as for those returning to their areas of origin who were unable to grow crops last season.

In Rwanda, the overall food supply situation is stable as a result of improved food production in the first season of 2000 and increased flow of commercial imports. Although food aid requirements for the first half of the year have declined, the food situation remains critical for vulnerable people in several areas, particularly in the north-west province of Ruhengeri where chronic malnutrition is high.


Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions during the 1999 rainy season, particularly in August and September, a bumper crop is estimated in the Sahel for the second consecutive year. Rains started generally on time, were relatively widespread and regular, and were particularly abundant during the critical months of July, August and September, which generally benefited crops. However, heavy rains caused flooding in The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. The pest situation was mostly calm. The abundant rains also permitted satisfactory regeneration of pastures and replenishment of water reserves.

Following release of final production estimates by several countries, the 1999 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS member countries has been revised to 11.6 million tonnes, which is 8 percent higher than in 1998 and 23 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops have been harvested in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, while above-average outputs are estimated in Chad and Niger. Output is estimated to remain below average in Guinea-Bissau due to civil strife and population displacement in 1998.

Following these good harvests, the food supply situation will be satisfactory in 2000. Markets are well supplied and prices are much lower than at the same time in previous years. Farmers have replenished their stocks. Low prices of cereals have also facilitated the replenishment of national food security stocks in several countries. Terms of trade for pastoralists are favourable. However, localised food supply difficulties are anticipated during the lean season in the areas affected by flooding, notably in Mauritania, northern Senegal and southern Chad. Local purchases and/or triangular transactions in the surplus areas for transfer to deficit areas are encouraged to support domestic production.

In Sierra Leone, the agricultural sector has been extensively disrupted by civil strife throughout the country. Over the years, farmers have lost all their productive resources including seeds, implements and other capital assets. There has been large-scale destruction of infrastructure and rural institutions. The rice area in 1999 is estimated at about 225 000 hectares, about 20 percent below the 1998 estimate. Despite very good rainfall, delayed transplanting and shortages of inputs resulted in a decline in yields of about 4 percent from the previous year. Thus, production of paddy is estimated at about 248 000 tonnes for 1999, 25 percent below the 1998 volume. The 1999 paddy production is around 45 percent of the pre-civil war (1990) production level and just about 60 percent of 1997 volume when the security situation improved in many parts of the country. In the South-West region, where the security situation has improved, production has increased slightly over the previous year. However, in the North, North-West and part of Eastern region, where insecurity was high and which remained inaccessible to most of the relief agencies, both area and yield decreased from the previous year. The rice import requirement in 2000 is estimated at 329 000 tonnes.

With the Lomé Peace Accord in July 1999, there has been a gradual improvement in the security situation, which should encourage recovery of the agricultural sector, exerting a positive impact on the food security of the population.

In Liberia, reflecting favourable growing conditions and an improved security situation, 1999 cereal production is expected to be satisfactory. Relative peace has exerted a positive influence on farming activities, with the exception of Lofa County in the north, where fighting broke out during the growing season. The cultivated area is estimated to be substantially higher than in 1998, with rice production expected to be around 80 percent and cassava output close to the pre-civil war average. Agricultural production increased in Bong, Bomi, Montserrado and Nimba counties, but remained low in Maryland, Sinoe and Grand Kru due to difficult access to farms. Although shortage of basic agricultural inputs was a limiting factor for farmers, it was largely offset by substantial distribution of seeds and tools and improved technical assistance to resettling farm families. In Lofa County, most of the estimated 25 000 displaced farmers have not been able to harvest their crops. Several thousands have been displaced from Voinjama and Kolahum camps in upper Lofa to Tarvey and Sinje in lower Lofa.

The overall food situation has improved significantly and food supplies in urban markets are relatively stable, while food prices are lower than in the previous year. However, food supply in rural areas continues to be tight. Humanitarian programmes for Liberian returnees and Sierra Leonean refugees were disrupted by insecurity and looting in Lofa county, where the nutritional and health condition of displaced people is reported to have deteriorated. About 90 000 refugees from Sierra Leone remain in Liberia.


The cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2000 are expected to increase reflecting reduced harvests in eastern and parts of southern Africa. GIEWS latest estimates of 1999 production and 1999/2000 import and food aid requirements are summarized in Table 1. The total food aid requirement is estimated at 2.5 million tonnes, some 4 percent more than 1998/99. Cereal food aid pledges for 1999/2000, including those carried over from 1998/99, amount to 1.1 million tonnes of which 0.5 million tonnes have so far been delivered. It must be noted that these estimates do not include requirements for several southern African countries affected by floods and cyclones as these countries will be entering their new marketing year in April 2000 and the full extent of crop damage still needs to be assessed.


The food supply situation in several countries of southern and eastern Africa will be very tight in 2000. A prolonged drought has aggravated an already precarious food supply situation in parts of eastern Africa, while the floods in southern Africa have dealt a severe blow to food security particularly in Mozambique and Madagascar. In Angola, continuing population displacements due to the persistent civil conflict have rendered large numbers of people entirely dependent on food assistance. The food supply situation remains bleak in the Great Lakes Region. In Sierra Leone, despite progress made on the political front, insecurity persists in the rural areas, hampering farming activities.

Against this background, the attention of the international community is drawn to the following areas requiring assistance:

First, Substantial assistance for agricultural rehabilitation, repair of damaged infrastructure and continued relief assistance is needed in Mozambique. International assistance for other southern African countries affected by adverse weather is also needed.

Second, the serious food situation in parts of eastern Africa, especially in the pastoral areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, calls for urgent food assistance, as well as provision of water for both human and livestock use.

Third, more food assistance is needed in Angola, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo for internally displaced people as a result of civil strife.

Fourth, sustained donor assistance is needed for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector in countries where prospects for lasting peace are a reality following the devastation by prolonged civil strife, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Rwanda.

FAO/GIEWS - April 2000

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