Food Outlook No.5 - December 2002 p.5

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Serious food shortages have emerged in eastern Africa , mainly due to drought. Over a third of the population in Eritrea faces food shortages due to drought in 2002. Assistance is also required by displaced people following the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia and by refugees who returned from Sudan. In Ethiopia, poor rains have led to severe food difficulties. In addition, large numbers of livestock have died and unusual population migrations are reported. The Government has appealed for immediate food assistance for more than 11 million people in 2003 and this number is expected to rise in the year ahead. In Sudan, the food situation has deteriorated sharply in the south, while a tight food supply situation persists in parts of the west and the east. In Kenya, despite improved overall food supply prospects, some northern and north-eastern districts still face food shortages. In Uganda, conflicts in northern areas have displaced many people, while drought induced crop failures in Karamoja aggravated the food supply situation. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently being assisted by WFP. In Burundi, emergency food assistance is required following a deteriorating security situation. The overall food supply has improved in Somalia and Tanzania due to good harvests, although localised shortages persist. After two consecutive poor harvests the food and nutrition situation is worsening in southern Africa , where 14.4 million people are in need of emergency food assistance in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A WFP regional emergency operation is to assist 10.3 million most affected people with 993 000 tonnes of food until March 2003, but pledges by late November only amounted to 663 000 tonnes. The situation is particularly serious in Zimbabwe, where half of the population needs relief food. In Angola 1.9 million people still require food assistance. Malnutrition rates have declined, reflecting better access to the needy population, but food insecurity remains at high levels. In Madagascar, food assistance is needed by people affected by the political crisis earlier in the year and those in the south hit by poor harvests. In western Africa , the food situation is very serious in parts of Mauritania, following three consecutive poor harvests. Food supply difficulties have emerged in parts of Cape Verde and may develop in Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, following below average harvests. Agricultural activities in Liberia have been disrupted by civil unrest, while emergency food assistance is needed in Côte d'Ivoire following resurgence of civil strife and in Sierra Leone and Guinea due to large numbers of IDPs and refugees. In central Africa , the escalation of civil conflicts in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo has further displaced populations, while in the Republic of Congo food assistance to refugees continues.

In Asia , an FAO/WFP Mission to Korea, DPR in October concluded that, despite an improvement in cereal production, the country would require 0.98 million tonnes of cereal food aid in 2002/03. This includes some 0.51 million tonnes of WFP emergency assistance to 6.4 million beneficiaries. Current food aid stocks are all but depleted and WFP urgently needs food aid pledges of some 126 000 tonnes to carry out its emergency operations for the remainder of this year and the first quarter of 2003. In Mongolia, a severe drought affected the already disaster-hit agricultural population. International relief will be necessary to meet the shortfall in food supply for the most vulnerable people. In several other countries of the region, the provision of emergency food and other relief assistance continues to victims of floods and drought. In CIS in Asia , the food supply situation is tight in Georgia and Tajikistan; targeted food assistance is foreseen for vulnerable populations again this year, following hot and dry weather and inadequate access to critical agricultural inputs. In the Near East , most countries harvested average to about-average crops in 2002, and the early outlook is favourable for the recently planted winter cereals. In Afghanistan, though agricultural output in 2002 recovered dramatically, large parts of the population have little access to food due to lack of purchasing power and continue to require food assistance. Curfews and military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip keep families in confinement and cause severe food shortages. In Iraq, despite an improved harvest in 2002 the output of cereals remains well below normal due to shortages of inputs.

In Central America and the Caribbean , many families are food insecure in parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua due to a fall in incomes linked to the international coffee crisis. Cases of child malnutrition are reported. Food assistance and nutritional care are being provided in health care centres. In Haiti, food assistance is being supplied to rural families in the southern departments affected by adverse weather. In Paraguay a severe drought in western parts is seriously affecting rural families. Food supply is reported to be tight and food assistance is underway. In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for refugees, the internally displaced and vulnerable population in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as in Chechnya in the Russian Federation.

1.  This updates information published in the November 2002 issue of Foodcrops and Shortages. Countries facing exceptional food emergencies are underlined.

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