TANZANIA (9 February)

Heavy rains and consequent flooding since November 1997 has severely disrupted rail and road systems in the country, causing serious problems in transporting essential goods to areas of need. Of particular concern are remote villages where framers have lost production or stocks due the rains and where relief food cannot be transported due to impassable roads.

The heavy rains resulted also in crop losses and damage to the 1997/98 “Vuli” crop, grown from October to February. The worst affected areas were low-lying parts of Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Shinyanga regions, as well as southern parts of Mwanza where heavy clay soils predominate. However, as crop cultivation is also practised in highland areas production here will be favourable due to higher rainfall. Overall, losses in low lying areas will be offset by gains in the highlands. The Vuli crop, which is the least important of the country’s three annual crops, is anticipated to recover from a succession of drought-affected harvests .

Following a destructive drought in 1996/97, large numbers of livestock were lost in pastoral areas. Heavy rains in the last few months have had a very beneficial effect on pastures, which will result in recovery in the livestock sector. From a household food security point of view, such recovery has important implications for some sections of the population, such as the Masai, who rely heavily on livestock.

In central and southern parts, where cereal crops of the 1998 main season are at developing stage, crop losses to floods in low-lying areas of Iringa and Mbeya regions may be significant. However, the abundant precipitation of the past months has been generally beneficial and, provided that favourable weather prevails in the remainder of the growing season, production may recover from the poor level of 1997. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just returned from the country and is finalizing its report.