FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.4 - September 2000 p. 4

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Serious Food Shortages Persist in 36 Developing Countries Throughout the World 1/

As of end-August 2000, the number of developing countries facing serious food difficulties throughout the world stood at 36, the same since the June report.

In eastern Africa, the number of people in urgent need of food assistance due to drought is currently estimated at 20 million. In Kenya, drought during the current season has aggravated an already severe scarcity of water and pasture resulting in large livestock losses. Nearly 3.3 million people are now estimated to be in urgent need of food assistance. In Eritrea, the upsurge in the border conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia in May/June 2000 and resulting widespread population displacement have aggravated the precarious food supply situation the country has been facing due to drought and war. More than 1.5 million people, about one-half of the total population, are now estimated to have been displaced. In Ethiopia, with the failure of the secondary Belg season crop, the number of people in need of food assistance has increased to about 10.2 million people. In Somalia, 750 000 people are estimated to be in need of assistance and serious malnutrition rates are increasingly being reported. In Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Djibouti, despite a generally stable food supply situation, some 3.7 million people depend on food assistance due to drought-induced crop losses and/or civil strife. Distribution of emergency food aid in Burundi is constrained by insecurity, while approximately 700 000 people, including the displaced, the drought-affected and other vulnerable people, will rely on emergency food aid well into 2001. In Rwanda, food shortages persist in parts, particularly in northwestern provinces. In western Africa, food shortages persist in Sierra Leone, where a resurgence of rebel activity in May/June disrupted agricultural production at the critical planting period, while in Liberia, production remains constrained by the effects of past civil strife. In central Africa, while the humanitarian situation has improved in the Republic of Congo, persistent civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in massive population displacements and seriously disrupted agricultural production. Humanitarian assistance continues to be hampered by insecurity. In southern Africa, recent intensification of fighting in Angola has resulted in further population displacements. Some 1.9 million people require emergency food aid but up to 2.8 million are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance. In Mozambique, free food distribution to flood-affected people has ended but 172 000 still need assistance through food-for-work schemes. Large-scale assistance for rehabilitation of the shattered infrastructure continues to be needed. Relief and rehabilitation assistance is also needed in Madagascar devastated by three consecutive cyclones earlier this year.

In several Asian countries, droughts followed by floods have displaced thousands and destroyed or damaged crops, causing localized food shortages. In India, following a serious drought earlier in the year which affected a number of western and southern states, recent floods in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh killed at least 150 people and left many homeless. Heavy rains and flash floods have also caused havoc in the north eastern states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, and in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The state of Assam was the worst affected, with an estimated 2.5 million people made homeless. In China, a severe drought, the worst in decades, has destroyed crops and led to large-scale water shortages in the northern parts. The early outlook for food grain production in DPR, Korea is unfavourable following erratic and below average rainfall in the run-up to the 2000 cropping season. This follows below normal rainfall in 1999. The food supply situation also remains extremely tight for thousands of nomadic families in Mongolia, which experienced its worst winter weather in 30 years earlier this year, killing over 1.5 million head of livestock. In East Timor, the food supply situation has improved with this year's maize and rice harvest, but the country still needs food assistance. In the Near East, the Islamic Republic of Iran has suffered the worst drought in decades, which has severely affected agriculture and livestock. Neighbouring Afghanistan is reeling under the effects of a second consecutive year of severe drought, compounded by continuing economic difficulties and insecurity. Drought-affected populations in Iraq, Jordan and Syria still need assistance. Several CIS countries have been seriously affected by drought since the beginning of Spring. The countries hardest hit are Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan, where the drought has exacerbated chronic economic problems. The 2000 cereal harvest in these countries is forecast to fall sharply and all three have appealed for international assistance. In Azerbaijan, vulnerable populations continue to need assistance.

In Latin America, as a result of the severe effects of natural disasters in recent years (El Niño, Hurricanes "Georges" and "Mitch", etc.), food assistance is still being provided to Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Haiti, food aid is needed due to chronic economic problems.

In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for vulnerable populations in the Balkans, especially in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the Russian Federation, displaced populations and host families in Ingushetia as well as returnees to Chechnya, require assistance to survive.

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