FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.3 - December 2002 p.3
In Southern Africa, the food crisis is worsening as food shortages become more acute, particularly in Zimbabwe. For the region as a whole, food aid requirements amount to 1.6 million tonnes, about half of which are still uncovered. As a result of two consecutive poor cereal harvests, 14.4 million people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland need emergency food assistance to survive until the next harvest in April 2003. The impact of food shortages is aggravated by the high rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence across the region. Of WFP's emergency appeal in July for 993 050 tonnes of food to assist 10.3 million most affected people in these six countries, pledges by late November amounted to 662 945 tonnes or 67 percent. Commercial maize imports have been slow and prices have started to rise in several countries. With the critical hunger period January-March approaching, there is urgent need to expedite commercial imports and food aid distributions. The outlook for the 2003 cereal crops, now being planted, is uncertain. Dry weather prevailed in the sub-region in the second and third dekad of November delaying planting and shortening the agricultural season. Precipitation has resumed in several areas since the first dekad of December, notably in South Africa, providing much needed relief. However, more rains are needed elsewhere to prevent yet another poor harvest in southern Africa. In Angola, despite improved access to the needy population, food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high, and IDPs returning home have no basic health services. FAO has appealed for US$ 12.7 million to assist the most affected farmers in the sub-region with agricultural inputs for the next cropping season.
In eastern Africa, serious food shortages have emerged in several countries of the Horn of Africa. The food situation is particularly serious in Eritrea and Ethiopia where food aid is urgently needed to prevent famine. In Eritrea, more than a third of the population face severe food shortages due to drought. In addition, humanitarian assistance continues to be needed for the population displaced by the war with Ethiopia in 1998-2000 and returning refugees from Sudan. In Ethiopia, poor and erratic rains have led to severe food difficulties, particularly in pastoral areas in the east where water supplies and pastures are dwindling. Large numbers of livestock have died and unusual population migrations are reported in these areas. The Government has recently appealed to the international community for food assistance for more than 11 million people. Elsewhere in eastern Africa, large numbers of people in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda need food assistance due to production shortfalls caused by poor rainfall and/or civil conflict.
In the Great Lakes region, the food outlook is poor in Rwanda and Burundi where the 2003 first season harvests from January are forecast to fall due to delayed onset of rains. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the escalation of fighting in eastern parts has resulted in new population displacements. Acute malnutrition continues to be on the increase among the IDPs as insecurity hinders humanitarian assistance.
In western Africa, this year's cereal harvest in the Sahel is estimated below last year's, reflecting insufficient rainfall in parts. The food situation is extremely serious in Mauritania, following three consecutive poor harvests. Food assistance is urgently needed for sections of the population, particularly in rural areas. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are mixed. Agricultural activities in Liberia have been disrupted by renewed civil strife, pointing to reduced rice production this year. Emergency food assistance is needed in Côte d'Ivoire, following a resurgence of civil strife, while Sierra Leone and Guinea remain heavily dependent on international food assistance due to large numbers of IDPs and refugees.
Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements in 2003 are expected to increase over 2002, reflecting reduced harvests in eastern, southern and western Africa, mainly due to drought.