FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.5 - November 2000 p. 4

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Number of People Facing Serious Food Shortage Increases Despite a Drop in Number of Affected Countries 1/

Between October 1999 and October 2000, the number of people facing serious food shortages increased from 52 to 62 million, the largest increase (45%) being in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly in the Horn.

In eastern Africa, prospects for the 2000 crops are poor due to continuing drought and population displacements. More than 20 million people already face severe food shortages, which are likely to persist well into 2001. In Kenya, 3.3 million people are now estimated to be in need of food assistance. In Eritrea, the food supply situation of more than 1.5 million war-displaced people gives cause for serious concern. The mass displacement of farmers from the agriculturally well endowed regions of Gash Barka and Debub, which account for more than 70 percent of the country's cereal production, has jeopardised this year's food production. In Ethiopia, the overall food supply situation remains highly precarious. With the failure of the secondary "Belg" season crop, the number of people in need of assistance has increased to more than 10 million. In the eastern and southern parts, large numbers of people whose livestock and livelihoods have perished due to drought, depend solely on food assistance. In Somalia, despite improved food production prospects in parts, serious food shortages are reported in several southern and northern areas due to drought. High malnutrition rates are also reported. In Sudan, 2.4 million people in the south and in pockets in the provinces of Kordofan, Darfur, Red Sea and Kessela in the north depend on food assistance due to crop losses and population displacement by civil strife. In Tanzania, several regions are facing acute food shortages due to drought during the 1999/2000 cropping seasons. In Uganda, while the overall food supply situation is satisfactory, food difficulties persist in the north-east, mainly due to last season's poor harvest. Food assistance continues to be needed for nearly 112 000 people in Bundibugyo District, in the west, displaced by civil unrest. 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 Guinea, rebel attacks from Sierra Leone are affecting agriculture and marketing activities. In Cote d'Ivoire, civil disturbances erupted in October and the situation is being closely monitored. Food supply difficulties may emerge in Niger, Chad and in parts of Burkina Faso, following reduced harvests. In central Africa, large numbers of people displaced by war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are in urgent need of food assistance but insecurity hampers access to the affected areas. In Burundi, emergency food aid is needed for the internally displaced, drought-affected and other vulnerable people estimated at 700 000. However, insecurity continues to hamper food distribution. In Rwanda, food difficulties are being experienced in eastern and southern parts of the country following three consecutive years of dry weather. In southern Africa, emergency food aid is being provided to some 1.9 million displaced people in Angola as a result of the persistent civil conflict. In Mozambique, food-for-work is still being provided to 172 000 flood-affected people. Relief assistance is also being provided in Madagascar to the people affected by drought in the south and to those affected by three successive cyclones in northern parts.

In several Asian countries, the effects of recent floods which killed and displaced thousands of people and destroyed crops, continue to be felt. In the worst affected countries, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand, some areas still remain under water, following the worst flooding in decades. As the normal period of tropical storms and typhoons (November) in South East Asia approaches, concerns are mounting that the food and health situation could deteriorate. The United Nations has issued a number of emergency appeals to assist the worst affected people. In DPR Korea, the food situation remains precarious due to a combination of drought this year and the cumulative effect of problems in agriculture and the economy. The country will continue to depend heavily on food assistance over the next year. The food supply situation also remains extremely tight for thousands of nomadic families in Mongolia, which experienced its worst winter in 30 years. Many CIS countries have been affected by drought this year. Large numbers of affected people in Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan need emergency assistance. In northern Uzbekistan, vulnerable populations in Karakalpakstan have suffered heavy crop losses due to drought and need relief.

In Latin America, food assistance is still being provided in Honduras and Nicaragua, as a result of the severe effects of natural disasters in recent years (El Niño, Hurricane "Mitch"). Food aid is also being distributed in Belize because of Hurricane "Keith" in late September, which also affected Honduras and Nicaragua. 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 (Serbia and Montenegro), where serious shortages of fuel and high inflation (27 percent in October), are resulting in hardship. 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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