Cyclones and extensive flooding cause havoc in several parts of Asia, killing thousands of people, making hundreds of thousands homeless and seriously threatening food supplies. The worst hit was eastern India, where up to 10 000 people may have died in Orissa state, following a cyclone on 29 October. Floods also destroyed coastal areas of Vietnam, killing up to 550 people and destroying property and infrastructure. Despite the damage, a recovery in rice production is anticipated in the region and imports are likely to be well down on last year's record. In East Timor, humanitarian operations continue and an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned for the end of November.
The food crisis in southern Somalia has intensified with nearly 1.6 million people inaccessible to humanitarian agencies due to an upsurge in civil unrest. Elsewhere in eastern Africa, dry spells and erratic rains sharply reduced cereal production in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, resulting in large numbers of people needing food assistance. In Eritrea, the food situation has deteriorated for more than half a million people displaced by the war with Ethiopia. In Sudan, despite favourable harvest prospects, more than 2 million people in the south continue to rely on emergency food assistance due to civil war.
In Burundi, growing insecurity has resulted in renewed displacement of people and forced a suspension of humanitarian assistance. The food and health situation of around 821 000 people in camps is of serious concern. Overall crop prospects are unfavourable, due to dry weather and reduced planting. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, an estimated 10 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are food insecure due to civil strife. In the Republic of Congo, civil strife continues to hamper agriculture and marketing activities and to displace large numbers of people.
In Angola, the food supply and nutritional situation remains critical among displaced people in several areas. Despite Government advances against rebels in central and northern parts, insecurity and landmines hamper humanitarian operations. In Madagascar, locusts are reported to be forming in central and south-western areas. Elsewhere in southern Africa, the food supply situation is tight in some countries due to reduced harvests.
In the Sahel, a record harvest is anticipated, with cereal production in the nine CILSS member countries estimated at a record 10.9 million tonnes, some 16 percent above average. Prospects are also favourable in the coastal countries, except in Sierra Leone and Liberia where food production continues to be constrained by insecurity.
In northern Africa, below-normal rains have delayed planting of winter cereal crops. In Morocco, 1999 cereal output was significantly reduced due to poor rainfall, while above-average crops are expected in Egypt. Output in Tunisia is slightly higher than 1998.
Storms and floods have affected crops in Central America and the Caribbean. Serious crop losses are reported in parts and evacuation of people and distribution of relief food assistance is underway. Extensive damage to infrastructure and property is reported from the region. The north-eastern Caribbean is presently threatened by Hurricane "Lenny".
A major humanitarian crisis is emerging in the North Caucasus. In the Russian Federation, where overall food supply situation remains tight, recent intensified military action in Chechnya has led to the displacement of some 250 000 people, mainly to the neighbouring impoverished Republic of Ingushetia which is unable to cope with the sudden and massive influx. Large scale international humanitarian assistance will be required to cope with the deteriorating situation of the civilian Chechan population trapped inside the capital, Grozny and for refugees in the neighbouring areas.
In the United States, winter wheat planting for harvest in 2000 is complete and early indication point to little change in area from last year. Dry weather affected emerging crops in some areas.
In Australia, prospects for the winter cereal crops are favourable reflecting good weather. Another bumper wheat crop is in prospect.