FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook, April 1998

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The number of countries facing food emergencies remains at 37 compared to 31 towards the end of last year, mainly due to the effects attributed to El Niño.

In Africa, food supply difficulties stem mainly from recent droughts followed by floods in most of eastern Africa, where there have been substantial losses of crops and livestock. In Somalia, the food supply is extremely tight. The worst floods in decades sharply reduced the 1997/98 secondary "Dyer" crops, the fourth poor harvest in a row. The floods also resulted in losses of livestock and the outbreak of animal diseases. In Kenya, food assistance continues to be distributed to the population affected by severe floods in eastern parts. In Uganda, the recently harvested 1997 second season crops were reduced by excessive rains. Food assistance continues to be required for displaced population in north-western areas affected by civil conflict. In Tanzania, food difficulties are experienced in areas where the 1997/98 secondary "Vuli" crop season, recently harvested, was reduced by heavy rains and floods. Distribution of food assistance to these areas is hampered by poor road conditions. In Ethiopia, the food supply situation is serious for over 5 million vulnerable people, including those affected by a poor 1997 harvest. In Eritrea, the overall food supply in 1998 is anticipated to be tight following two successive reduced cereal harvests. In the Sudan, despite an overall satisfactory food supply situation, food aid assistance is needed for some 2.4 million displaced and drought-affected people, mainly in the South. In Burundi, the food supply situation has deteriorated as a result of a decline in the 1998 first season foodcrop production, affected by a delay in the start of the rainy season followed by excessive precipitation. Excessive rain also affected the 1998 first season harvest in Rwanda where, despite an increase, production remained below normal and insufficient to meet domestic needs. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, population displacements, shortages of seeds and erratic rainfall have resulted in a well below-normal bean harvest. In western Africa, while the food supply situation is generally satisfactory, the food situation remains difficult in Liberia and in Sierra Leone, notably in the east and south-east. In several Sahelian countries, notably Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, localized food problems prevail in areas where 1997 harvests were poor. In southern Africa, while there is guarded optimism about the likely outcome of the current season, localized crop damage due to excessive rains or prolonged dry spells is reported in several parts of the subregion. Lesotho is the most affected by erratic and below-normal rainfall. Madagascar may also have serious locust-induced crop losses.

In Asia, a grave food situation persists in Korea, D.P.R. with continuing reliance on food aid. In Iraq, despite some improvement in the overall food supply situation following the implementation of Security Council Resolution 986, malnutrition still remains a serious problem throughout the country. In Mongolia, the tight food supply situation, coupled with the negative side-effects of economic reforms, is seriously affecting vulnerable groups. Elsewhere in Asia, El Niño-related droughts have continued to affect cereal production in Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and Thailand, as well as Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Rim.

In Latin America, abnormally dry weather and high temperatures associated with El Niño continue to prevail, posing a threat to food supplies. In the Caribbean, food assistance is still being distributed in Haiti while in Cuba recent heavy rains and flooding have affected the important foreign exchange earner, sugar cane. In Brazil, high temperatures and below-normal rainfall related to El Niño have resulted in widespread forest fires in the northern State of Roraima, with damage to crops in the affected areas. In Ecuador and Peru, heavy rain and flooding, mainly along the coastal provinces and in Bolivia, in the lowlands, combined with drought in other parts, have resulted in hundreds of casualties and severe damage to crops and infrastructure.

In the CIS, a considerable portion of the vulnerable population needs food aid to survive in Tajikistan; elsewhere in the CIS, humanitarian relief assistance continue to be needed for vulnerable people, notably the IDPs and refugees.

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