CAMEROON (29 March)
Planting of the first maize crop started in the south. Reflecting favourable growing conditions, 1999 cereal production was above average. Heavy 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. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-export during the 2000 marketing year are estimated at 290 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice. About 1 000 Congolese refugees arrived in northern Cameroon in December 1999.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (29 March)
The seasonal rains reached the south of the country in early March. Reflecting abundant rains and favourable growing conditions, cereal production in 1999 is estimated at a record of 161 000 tonnes which is 9 percent above 1998.
Following successive good crops, the food supply situation is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for the 2000 marketing year is estimated at 29 000 tonnes, mainly wheat.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF* (29 March)
The food supply situation remains tight in most parts of the country as a result of persistent civil war. In particular, severe food shortages and malnutrition are reported among large numbers of 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, many others have died of illnesses or epidemics due to inadequate access to drinking water or medical care.
Among the population most affected by the crisis, are those in urban areas, particularly 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 due to a serious erosion of the 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 for additional contributions.
CONGO, REP OF* (29 March)
Following the December 1999 ceasefire signed between the government and opposition parties, the security situation has improved in the Pool region over recent months but remains fragile. The rate of return of displaced people to the cities is rising fast; about 600 000 of the estimated 810 000 displaced people have returned. Over 50 000 IDPs are still in the Mossendjo area of Niari region and they need assistance. Severe malnutrition is affecting the displaced population. Nutrition centres have been opened to help malnourished people. Some 2 500 Rwandan refugees have also been integrated in several villages of the Loukolela region following closure of the Loukolela refugee camp in February. The food supply situation should improve in Brazzaville once the railway link Pointe-Noire to Brazzaville reopens, which is scheduled for late April. The cereal import requirement for the 2000 marketing year is estimated at 140 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (29 March)
Rainfall remained low during the 1999 season but this is unlikely to have a serious affect on foodcrop production as the staple crops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. The cereal import requirement for the 2000 marketing year is estimated at 9 000 tonnes of rice and wheat.
GABON (29 March)
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 2000. In a census conducted in November and December 1999 in Libreville, about 13 500 Congolese refugees were registered in Haut-Ogooue in the east and Nyanga in the southwest, the two provinces bordering Congo. Congolese refugees in two other provinces, Ngounie and Ogooue-Lolo, are estimated between 3 000 and 4 000. There are also about 1 500 people from other countries such as Angola, Chad, DRC, Equatorial Guinea and Rwanda. Food supplies for the refugees ran out in mid-February. WFP will provide some 12 000 refugees with 1 200 tonnes of food for six months.