FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2 - June 2004 p.3
Food supply prospects are bleak in several countries of the sub-region following poor seasonal rains.
In Somalia, poor main season “gu” rains have aggravated the effects of earlier droughts and persistent insecurity. An alert has been issued recently by the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) to highlight serious humanitarian concerns.
In Eritrea, inadequate spring “azmera” rains from March to May have affected prospects for the main season crops now being planted. Low food aid pledges and deliveries have led to a reduction in rations and the number of targeted beneficiaries.
In Ethiopia, contrary to earlier optimism, the secondary “belg” rains were generally inadequate. Food aid pledges and deliveries are reported to be far short of requirements.
In Kenya, following erratic main season rains, there are serious food security concerns for more than a million people in various parts of the country. Aflatoxin food poisoning has caused several deaths in some districts.
In Sudan, the grave humanitarian crisis in Greater Darfur, where over a million people have been displaced, continues unabated.
In the United Republic of Tanzania, despite improved prospects for current crops, food shortages persist in several parts of the country.
In Uganda, reports indicate unfavourable crop prospects due to a delayed start of seasonal rains coupled with prolonged dry spells. The civil strife in northern parts continues to inflict misery on the local population.
Desert locusts are a serious threat to agricultural production this year for several Sahelian countries.
In Mauritania, locust damage to crops and pastures is already reported, but control operations are hampered by lack of resources.
In Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, food assistance continues to be needed for internally displaced people and refugees.
In Central African Republic, the food situation remains precarious in many areas, due to persistent insecurity and reduced harvest in 2003.
In the Republic of Congo, the volatile security situation continues to hamper humanitarian assistance.
In DR Congo, renewed instability in the east gives cause for concern, while the peace process in Burundi remains very fragile.
Aggregate 2003/04 cereal production in the sub-region is estimated at about 20 million tonnes, some 4 percent lower than last year’s near normal output. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major factor in the sub-region’s food security problems.
In South Africa, the sub-region’s largest maize producer, drought reduced the maize harvest by 1.5 million tonnes or about 16 percent compared to last year.
In Zimbabwe, similar to last year, cereal production in 2004 remained well below average levels, with anticipated food shortages for 2.3 million rural people, and at least as many in urban areas.
In Malawi, the cereal harvest was below normal; consequently some 1.26 million people in southern and parts of central regions will require food assistance.
In drought-hit Lesotho, the 2004 cereal harvest is estimated at less than half of last year’s, necessitating emergency food assistance to large numbers of people.