FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.1 - February 2001 p. 4

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Over 60 Million People Facing Food Emergencies Worldwide1/

The number of people in need of urgent food assistance in various parts of the world continues to exceed 60 million, some 30 percent of whom live in Eastern Africa.

In eastern Africa, around 18 million people are currently affected by serious food shortages (total Africa: 27 million people) due to the lingering effects of drought and conflicts in parts. In Eritrea, mass displacement of farmers from the main cereal producing regions of Gash Barka and Debub, which account for more than 70 percent of cereal production, has jeopardised production this year. The food situation of nearly 1.5 million war-displaced and about 300 000 drought-affected people gives cause for serious concern. In Ethiopia, despite an increase in grain harvest, the overall food supply situation remains highly precarious. The number of people in need of food assistance is anticipated to decline to 6.2 million from last year's peak of nearly 10.2 million. In Somalia, 750 000 people are estimated to rely on emergency food assistance, reflecting diminished livelihoods due to a succession of droughts and insecurity. In Kenya, drought-induced food shortages persist with nearly 4.4 million people in urgent need of food assistance. In Sudan, serious food shortages have emerged in many parts due to prolonged dry spells; food prices have more than doubled over the same period last year. An estimated 2.9 million people will need food assistance due to civil conflict and adverse weather. In Tanzania, food production in a number of regions was adversely affected by late and insufficient rains, leaving an estimated 800 000 people in need of food assistance. In Uganda, the food supply situation remains precarious in the north-east due to drought and in the west, due to civil strife. In western Africa, food shortages persist in Sierra Leone, where rebel activity disrupted agricultural production, while in Liberia, production remains constrained by the effects of past civil strife. In Guinea, rebel attacks are affecting agriculture and marketing activities in border areas. In the Sahel, following reduced harvests, the food supply situation will be tighter in 2001 than in 2000, notably in Chad, Niger and parts of Burkina Faso. In central Africa, persistent civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to cause massive population displacement, currently affecting an estimated 2 million people. In the Republic of Congo, the security situation has improved but food assistance is still being provided to refugees and internally displaced persons. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, Rwanda and Burundi have suffered long dry spells which have reduced production of basic staples. In southern Africa, growing insecurity in Angola has disrupted agricultural activities at the critical planting time and will result in a reduced harvest, further aggravating the already precarious food situation in the country. In Madagascar, food aid is needed for 240 000 people in drought-affected southern regions.

In Asia, while some 25 million people are in need of food assistance, severe winter weather in several countries is raising serious concerns over additional food emergencies. In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, an already desperate food situation following a poor harvest in 2000, has been greatly exacerbated by the coldest winter in 50 years. Lack of heating and food through the Public Distribution System may result in an increasing number of fatalities. Similarly, in Mongolia, large numbers of livestock, which provide an important source of livelihood and income for a large section of the population, have died due to severe winter conditions and food assistance is urgently required in parts. Elsewhere, in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggaras, severe food shortages due to drought and crop failure are reported whilst food shortages persist for vulnerable groups in Cambodia. In the drought affected low-income food deficit countries of the CIS - notably in Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan - some 4 million people continue to require international donor assistance to survive. Moreover, a significant recovery in food production this year will require further assistance with the provision of inputs. In northern Uzbekistan, vulnerable populations in Karakalpakstan have suffered heavy losses and need relief. Vulnerable people in Azerbaijan also continue to receive emergency assistance.

In the Near East, over 7 million people urgently require food assistance, mainly as a result of continuing drought conditions that have affected crop and livestock production in parts. In Afghanistan, despite recent beneficial rains, a very serious food crisis has emerged following two consecutive years of drought and continuing civil conflict with renewed displacements of thousands of people. In Iraq, two years of drought have decimated crops and exacerbated the already tight food supply situation. The drought has also affected crops and pasture in Jordan, leaving thousands of farmers in need of assistance.

In Latin America, over 1 million people face food problems, while food assistance is still being provided in Honduras and Nicaragua as a result of the severe impact of hurricane "Mitch" in late 1998. Food aid is also being distributed in El Salvador as a consequence of the strong earthquake which struck the country in mid-January. In Haiti, food assistance is needed due to chronic economic problems.

In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for about 1 million vulnerable people in the Balkans, especially in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in the Russian Federation.

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