CAMEROON (9 February)
Prospects for the 1997 cereal output are generally good. However, African migratory Locust infestations have developed in late 1997 in the north, from swarms coming from southern Chad. They have damaged the millet and sorghum crops, which were being harvested and were also threatening recession crops. Recent surveys indicate that only a few isolated locusts are still present and there is no risk of damage on the recession crops. Residual African Migratory Locust populations migrated to the south of the region where they are likely to breed at the beginning of the next rainy season in June-July 1998.
The food supply situation is going to be somewhat tight in the traditionally deficit areas of the north. Most refugees who fled fighting in the Republic of Congo have now returned. The cereal import requirement for 1997/98 (July/June) is estimated at 260 000 tonnes of wheat and rice and 10 000 tonnes of coarse grains.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (9 February)
Reflecting favourable growing conditions, 1997 cereal production is estimated at about 120 000 tonnes which is above average. Cassava production is estimated at 580 000 tonnes.
About 35 000 refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in the Central African Republic in late May/early June. There are also 27 400 assisted Sudanese and about 5 000 Chadian refugees in the country. For the 1998 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at about 40 000 tonnes, mainly wheat and rice.
CONGO, REP OF (9 February)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment team, which visited the country as part of an inter-agency mission from 18 to 30 January 1998, found that livestock production has suffered to a greater extent from the consequences of the civil strife than crop production, as cassava, the main staple, is an enduring crop. On the other hand, urban dwellers of Brazzaville who have lost their jobs in the private sector following the destruction of the business centre will experience great difficulty accessing adequate food. Food prices are high because of transport and marketing constraints.
On the basis of an estimated total population of 3.124 million at mid-1998 and after allowing for waste and other food uses, total food production in cereal-equivalent terms will fall short of utilisation requirements in 1998 by an estimated 118 000 tons. Normally, such a deficit would be covered commercially as the country has the requisite import capacity. However, due to the disruption of trading activities particularly in Brazzaville, it is assumed that for 1998, commercial food imports will reach only 80 percent of the 1995/96 level which amounts to 72 000 tons. This leaves an import gap of 46 000 tonnes. This is expected to be filled by a variety of coping mechanisms (increased fishing and hunting, short-cycle crops, etc.) and food aid targeted at vulnerable groups such as IDPs, refugees, victims of floods, unaccompanied children and others.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF * (18 February)
Torrential rain in January caused flooding and landslides in several regions of the country. In the Kivu region, in the east, the Bukavu-Uvira road has been blocked. Prices have already doubled in Uvira due to the difficulty in transporting goods along the traditional Dar es Salaam-KigomaUvira supply line. Importers are now exploring the MombasaUganda-Goma link. Meanwhile, the railway bridge from Kalemie to Kindu collapsed, forcing to find an alternative route to ferry supplies
Flooding and an epidemic of cholera are reported from Kisangani. A UN inter-agency mission visited the town to assess the needs of the affected population. Over 1 500 persons have been affected by cholera, with 270 deaths reported. Emergency assistance has been air-lifted.
Flooding has also affected Kinshasa where the Congo river reached the highest levels for at least five years and burst its banks in several areas. Heavy flooding is also reported in the town of Mbandaka where about 4 000 persons have been affected, as well as in Kalemie, in the southeast, which has been cut off from the rest of the country in December when a bridge was swept away.
The food supply situation is critical in the east where severe malnutrition is reported among the remaining refugees and the security situation is still tense. Increased civil strife in North and South Kivu has resulted in considerable population movements and disorder, while recent flooding has impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Some fighting has been reported in Uvira in mid-February. In addition to about 190 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), of whom some 95 000 in Masisi, humanitarian sources estimate the number of remaining refugees at more than 20 000. UNHCR has suspended its operations related to Rwandan refugees as well as rehabilitation activities in this region and food aid monitoring and distribution remains very limited. In Uvira region, refugees are coming from Burundi. Some 400-500 refugees arrived from Burundi over the past few weeks. According to UNHCR, most of the refugees were located in Sange and Kiliba, two areas north of Uvira, and many of them were being absorbed into the local communities.
In the West, most of the 40 000 Congolese who had sought refuge in Kinshasa following fighting in Brazzaville have returned. About 50 000 assisted and 119 000 unassisted Angolan refugees ere located in the south of the country. Around 92 000 Sudanese and 37 000 Ugandan refugees also remain in the country.
The 1998 cereal import requirement (January/December) is estimated at 200 000 tonnes of wheat and rice and 60 000 tonnes of coarse grains.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (9 February)
The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. Some 10 000 tonnes of wheat and rice are imported annually. The food aid requirement in 1998 is estimated at 2 000 tonnes of wheat.
GABON (9 February)
The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, the production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tonnes. Production of cereals in 1997, mainly maize, is estimated at around 25 000 tonnes. The country imports the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 76 000 tonnes. No food aid is necessary.