CAMEROON (4 February)
Planting of the first maize crop is going to start in the south. Reflecting favourable growing conditions, 1999 cereal production is anticipated to be average to above average. Strong rains led to water release from the Lagdo dam and flooding along the Benue river in the north, forcing the displacement of about 1 000 persons.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory except in the flooded areas. About 1 000 Congolese refugees arrived in northern Cameroon in December.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (2 February)
Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Reflecting abundant rains and favourable growing conditions, cereal production in 1999 is estimated at a record of 161 000 tonnes which is 10 percent above 1998.
Following successive record crops, the food supply situation is satisfactory.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF* (4 February)
The food supply situation remains tight in most parts of the country as a result of the persistent civil war. In particular, severe food shortages and malnutrition are reported among the large numbers of the displaced population in northeastern Katanga, South Kivu and Ituri area of Upper Congo. In the latter, reports indicate that a serious humanitarian crisis is developing. A UN assessment mission to Djugu area of Ituri, estimated last October that over 100 000 people had been displaced and about 5 000-7 000 people killed. In another measure of the seriousness of the situation in the area, a recent nutritional survey by MSF showed 11.6 percent global malnutrition and 9.1 percent severe to acute malnutrition. In addition to people who have died as a direct result of the conflict, there are the untold numbers that have died of illnesses or epidemics attendant upon living under marginal socio-economic circumstances or in the bush, without adequate access to drinking water or medical care.
Among the population most affected by the crisis, are also those in urban areas, in particular in the city of Kinshasa (about 6 million people). The division of the country in two since the start of the conflict has virtually halted all formal internal trade, while population displacements have seriously disrupted agricultural activities in surrounding rural areas. Recent estimates indicate that about 10 percent of the population in Kinshasa is severely affected by the decline in purchasing power and suffer acute malnutrition, against 6 percent in 1998.
Overall, it is estimated that more than 10 million people in the country are living in conditions of food insecurity, including 1 million internally displaced persons. The most affected population remain inaccessible to humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and cut-off of roads. While WFP has recently created a fourth corridor to access displaced people in Northeastern Katanga and South Kivu, food aid pledges for the emergency operation remain well below requirements. There is an urgent need of additional contributions.
CONGO, REP OF* (2 February)
Substantial floods affected the north of the country in early November and the districts of Mpila and Kangabanzi in the north-east of Brazzaville in late November/early December. The security situation has improved in the Pool region over the past months but remains fragile. Severe malnutrition is affecting the displaced population. Nutrition centres have been recently opened to help malnourished people. The rate of return of displaced people to the cities is rising fast. Of an estimated 810 000 people displaced last year, 370 000 were estimated to have returned by the beginning of January. By February the number of returnees is expected to be more than 400 000, and if the pace continues, some 600 000 could have returned by April or May.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (2 February)
Rainfall remained low during the 1999 season but this would not affect too much food production as the staple crops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains.
GABON (1 February)
The main foodcrops are cassava and plantains but some maize is also produced (around 25 000 tonnes). The country commercially imports the bulk of its cereal requirement, estimated at around 82 000 tonnes in 1999. Around 10 000 refugees fled Congo-Brazzaville and are reported to be based in temporary sites in Libreville.
SAO TOME (2 February)
The staple foodcrops are roots, tubers and plantains. The country imports around 10 000 tonnes of wheat and rice annually.