Africa report January 1996



This is the first issue in 1996 of a series of reports prepared by the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on the food supply situation, cereal import and food aid requirements for all countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The report is designed to provide the latest analysis and information on the food situation in these countries to governments, international organizations and other institutions engaged in relief operations.

Part I draws attention to the mixed harvest results in eastern Africa, where large scale emergency food aid distributions will be required by millions of affected people throughout 1996. The report focuses on devastating consequences of civil strife for Burundi and Rwanda. It describes the early prospects for the 1995/96 crops in southern Africa where 1994/95 harvests were reduced by drought. Details of 1995 harvest estimates in the Sahel also feature in Part I. Attention is drawn to donor assistance needed for the internal movement of localized surpluses in several countries. The report contains FAO's latest estimates of the cereal import and food aid requirements, as well as pledges and deliveries in 1994/95 of all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Estimates of cereal import and food aid needs are provided for 1995/96 as well as an evaluation of food aid trends in sub-Saharan Africa over the last ten years.

Part II contains an assessment of crop prospects and the food supply situation by sub-region, giving the latest estimates of cereal imports and food aid requirements of all four sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Part III presents the latest analysis and information on crop prospects and the food supply situation and outlook in each country. The information on food aid pledges, including triangular transactions and local purchases, and on expected arrivals, is based on data transmitted to the GIEWS as of late December 1995 by the following donors: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, EC, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States as well as the World Food Programme. For other donors, data are based on field reports from various sources (see Tables 7 and 8).


Since conditions can change rapidly, and published information may not always represent the most up-to-date basis for action, further enquiries or corrections should be directed to Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service (ESCG), FAO, Rome (Telex: 610181 FAO I, Fax: 03965225-4495, Email INTERNET: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG).

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this bulletin do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Reasons for emergency
Population displacement
Civil strife, displacement of rural population
Reduced harvest, large number of vulnerable people
Large number of vulnerable people, localized drought
Drought-reduced harvest
Population displacement, shortage of farm inputs
Drought-reduced harvest, Mozambican refugees
Displacement of rural population
Population displacement, reduced plantings
Sierra Leone
Civil disturbances, population displacement
Civil strife, poor harvest
Displaced persons, localized food deficits, civil strife
Rwandan refugees, civil disturbances affecting food distribution
Drought-reduced harvest



Food aid allocations to Sub-Saharan Africa drop as global supplies tighten. Although sub-Saharan Africa’s food aid needs fell in 1994/95 a substantial proportion remained unmet. This is largely attributed to tightening world food aid supplies. On current estimates, global food aid shipments in 1994/95 fell to the lowest level for twenty years. With a further decline, anticipated in 1995/96 and a major increase in world cereal prices, many low-income food-deficit countries of the region will face serious difficulties in meeting food deficit through imports.

Persistent food problems in the Horn, despite some good crops. Although Ethiopia has harvested an above-average crop, the sub-region continues to be afflicted by localized droughts. Poorly distributed rains have hit crops in Eritrea where food aid needs for 1996 have increased and Somalia’s food supplies have been jeopardised by continuing civil strife and poor rains last season. Food availability will be tight in Sudan as a result of a fall in production and a renewal of hostilities in the south.

Burundi on the verge of a food crisis while Rwanda begins to recover. The crisis in the Great Lakes region is far from over. Insecurity in parts of Burundi are disrupting food production and marketing activities. The repatriation of Rwandan refugees in Tanzania and Zaire continues to be slow. Since last year the number of farming households in Rwanda has increased but food production remains at about three-quarters of the pre-civil strife level.

More imports needed in Southern Africa as lean season approaches. The latest information on commercial import deliveries and food aid pledges to southern Africa suggests that there could be exceptional price hikes if more imports do not start arriving in the next few weeks. Import requirements increased in the wake of the drought-affected 1994/95 crop but high world market prices and the very poor crop in South Africa have hit commercial imports and food aid imports to date have been slow.

Peace in Liberia but the food situation remains precarious. The Abuja agreement of August 1995 came too late to allow a major recovery in crop production which fell to less than one quarter of pre-war levels, according to a recent FAO mission. As roads are cleared and parts of the country become accessible for the first time in three years, there are hopes that market and relief distribution of food will improve in 1996. Sierra Leone continues to count the cost of civil strife. Food production and marketing have been hampered and widespread population displacement has occurred. There are reports that the number of deaths from starvation is on the increase in the inaccessible parts of the country.

Bumper crops in most Sahelian countries for the second successive year. Well-distributed rains in most countries for the duration of the season and a relatively low incidence of pests has led to some bumper and record crops in the Sahel and elsewhere in western Africa. Markets are generally well supplied although some localized shortages are expected in 1996.

A prominent role for local purchases in 1995/96 as supplies of international food aid tighten and emergency relief needs remain high in many countries of the region. Local surpluses could be used to support on-going food distribution programmes in several countries, most notably in Ethiopia.

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