FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 04/00 - ETHIOPIA* (7 April)
ETHIOPIA* (7 April)
Prospects for the 2000 secondary "Belg" season crops, to be harvested from June, are unfavourable reflecting continued drought. The Belg crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual cereal and pulse production but in some of the northern parts of the country, it provides important amounts of the annual grain production. The failure of last year’s Belg season has severely affected the food supply situation of large number of people and were exacerbated by the continued drought through the 1999 main season in these areas. The 1999/2000 main "Meher" season grain harvest was estimated by an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in November/December at 10.7 million tonnes, some 6 percent below the previous year's outturn but 22 percent higher than the poor year of 1997. The most important factors affecting production were the poor Belg rains, the late start of the Meher rains.
The food supply situation in pastoral areas of the east and south, particularly the Somali Region, which have had three consecutive years of little or no rainfall, is critical. Large numbers of livestock have perished due to drought and a number of starvation-related deaths, particularly among children, are being reported. People have started migrating en masse to towns and feeding centres in search of water and food. In the country as a whole, more than 8 million people, including 400 000 displaced by the border war with Eritrea, are facing severe food shortages. With bleak prospects for the Belg crop in 2000, the number of people in need of assistance is anticipated to increase. Relief food aid requirement in 2000 is currently estimated at 652 000 tonnes but is likely to increase if the Belg season fails. An Emergency Operation worth US$136.8 million was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in February 2000 to assist some 2.3 million people for a period of nine months. This is part of an appeal for US$190 million launched by the UN Country Team to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the country.