Massive relief and rehabilitation assistance needed in Mozambique, following the devastation caused by severe floods. Latest estimates indicate that 1.9 million people have been affected by the disaster and major losses to crops and livestock have been sustained in the southern and central provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica and Sofala. In these traditionally food-deficit provinces, the sharp reduction in cereal production will be compounded by loss of farmers' food and seed stocks. As a result the food security situation of the affected populations is likely to remain precarious until the next harvest in April 2001. In Madagascar heavy rains and high winds by two consecutive cyclones also caused destruction to property and infrastructure and left some 10 000 people homeless. Preliminary indications point to serious damage to coffee plantations, fruit trees and paddy crop in low-lying areas. FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are scheduled to visit both countries shortly to assess the impact of weather hazards on food production and the food supply situation and estimate the cereal import requirements, including food aid, for the next marketing year starting April 2000.
Elsewhere in southern Africa production prospects are generally satisfactory, notwithstanding severe localized flood damage to crops and infrastructure in Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, the food supply situation remains very serious in the civil-war ravaged Angola, where emergency food aid continues to be necessary for some 1.1 million displaced people, as well as for large numbers of Angolan refugees in Zambia and Namibia. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned to visit Angola in mid April to review the harvest outcome, assess the food supply situation and estimate the cereal import requirements, including food aid, for the marketing year 2000/2001(April/March).
The threat of starvation is severe in parts of eastern Africa with nearly 16 million people in need of emergency food assistance. Pastoral areas of the sub-region, including south-eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya and several parts of Somalia, have been particularly affected due to successive years of poor rains with loss of large numbers of livestock. Hardest hit is Ethiopia, where more than 8 million people are at risk, while in Kenya nearly 2.7 million people are facing severe food shortages. Past or ongoing civil conflicts in parts are also disrupting food production and distribution, triggering food shortages and mass population displacements. With poor rainfall forecast for the sub-region during the current season, the number of people in need of assistance is anticipated to increase. Only a massive international effort in the coming months in support of the affected populations can avert further human suffering and loss of life.
Food supply situation remains bleak in the Great Lakes region due to the combined effects of civil strife, insecurity, shortage of inputs and erratic rainfall. In Burundi, food supply position is tight following the reduced harvest last season due to dry weather and population displacement. The food and health situation is particularly critical for some 800 000 displaced people in camps, most of whom do not have access to their fields. The Government has recently started closing some camps. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, severe food shortages and malnutrition are reported among large numbers of displaced people, mainly in north-eastern Katanga and South Kivu areas, which remain inaccessible due to insecurity. In Rwanda, despite a significant improvement in food production last season, food supply difficulties persist in some parts.
Food supply position improves in Sahelian countries of western Africa, following bumper harvests which have allowed the replenishment of farm and national food stocks. The markets are generally well supplied in most countries. Record harvests were gathered in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, while production levels were above-average in Chad and Niger. By contrast, output is estimated to be below average in Guinea-Bissau due to the effect of civil strife and population displacement. Despite some improvement in food production, Sierra Leone and Liberia remain heavily dependent on international food assistance.
Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements are set to remain high in 2000, reflecting reduced production in the eastern and southern Africa. However, continuing balance of payments difficulties in the low-income food deficit countries of the region mean that their food aid requirements will increase. The food aid requirements could increase further in the coming months, if current forecasts of poor rainfall in eastern Africa materialize.