FOOD SUPPLY PROBLEMS CONTINUE TO GRIP MANY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
In eastern Africa, food supply difficulties stem from weather adversities and/or civil strife. In southern Sudan, affected by prolonged civil strife and a reduced harvest last year, famine conditions have eased with increased food aid distributions and the beginning of the new harvest. However, the food and nutritional situation of a large section of the population remains precarious. Overall, some 2.6 million people are in need of food assistance. In Somalia, the food supply situation gives cause for serious concern as a result of a sharply drought-reduced 1998 main "Gu" crop, which followed the worst floods in decades. In Uganda, emergency food assistance is still needed for some 400 000 displaced people in northern areas, affected by continuing insurgency, as well as for 130 000 people in the east where the harvest was poor. In Tanzania, despite an overall increase in the 1998 food production, some 300 000 people in central, northern and coastal areas will need food assistance. In Ethiopia, over 5 million vulnerable people, including those affected by a poor 1997 harvest, need food aid. In Eritrea, following two successive reduced cereal harvests, the overall food supply is tight and food prices have increased sharply. In Burundi and Rwanda, despite a recovery in food production this year, food assistance is needed for large numbers of displaced people affected by persistent insecurity in parts.
In western Africa, harvest prospects are favourable in most countries, but food supply difficulties are anticipated in several parts. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production. In Guinea-Bissau, civil strife has hampered agricultural production and the overall food outlook is poor. Elsewhere in the Sahel, localized food supply difficulties are anticipated following a late start of the 1998 cropping season, notably in northern Senegal, Mauritania, and Cape Verde.
In central Africa, civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo since early August is hampering agricultural and marketing activities in the Kivu region in the east, where increasing population displacement is reported.
In southern Africa, the food supply situation is expected to tighten in the coming months due to reduced cereal production in several countries associated with El Niño. In Angola and Mozambique, production of food crops improved this year, but relief assistance will be required for the internally displaced, vulnerable and drought/flood affected population.
In Asia, persistent rains and floods in the summer, attributed to the La Niña phenomenon, caused loss of life and heavy damage to crops and property. The damage was particularly heavy in Bangladesh, with floodwaters covering most of the country for more than two months. In Korea DPR, floods have damaged crops in the southern and eastern parts, exacerbating the precarious food supply situation in the country. In Indonesia, a recent FAO/WFP mission found that food security has worsened as production fell further and the economic crisis deepened. In Afghanistan, despite a recovery in cereal production, the food situation remains precarious in the areas affected by civil strife. In Iraq, despite the easing of the food supply situation with the implementation of the oil-for-food deal, malnutrition still remains a serious problem. In Laos, food supply difficulties have been exacerbated by drought, while in Mongolia, food supply problems persist among vulnerable sections of the population.
In Latin America, torrential hurricane rains and high-force winds struck several island states of the Caribbean in late September, and recently, hurricane "Mitch" swept across several Central American countries, with devastating effects especially in Honduras and Nicaragua. Heavy loss of life and extensive damage to housing, infrastructure and agriculture have occurred in the affected countries.
In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), vulnerable people in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan continue to need relief food assistance.
In Europe, displaced people in Bosnia-Herzogovina, Albania and the Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are receiving food assistance.