FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.3 - December 2005 p.3
Harvesting of the 2005 main season cereal crops is underway in northern parts of the subregion while it has been completed in southern parts.
A generally better 2005 harvest compared to 2004 is expected to improve food availability in most countries of the subregion.
The overall food situation, however, remains precarious with high malnutrition rates reported in several countries arising from effects of war, displacement and past droughts.
In Somalia, below average 2005 main “gu” season harvest in the south and an upsurge in civil strife have exacerbated the already precarious food situation. Nearly one million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The food situation in Sudan is also alarming due to continued conflict and population displacement that have resulted in serious food insecurity, especially in Darfur and southern Sudan.
There are delays in planting of main season crops due to inadequate rainfall so far in most countries in the subregion.
Food insecurity is worsening during this lean period and nearly 12 million people, mainly in Zimbabwe and Malawi, are in need of emergency food assistance.
Shortages of key farm inputs such as seed, fertilizer and draft power are reported in Zimbabwe. High inflation coupled with fuel and transport problems are exacerbating food insecurity.
In Malawi, markets continue experiencing escalating prices of maize, the main staple food. So far, commercial imports and food aid deliveries have been meagre in spite of the significant amounts pledged by international donors.
South Africa’s record maize harvest of 12.4 million tonnes is estimated to result in a potential exportable surplus of about 4.66 million tonnes, more than enough to cover the subregion’s import requirements.
Good harvests are expected in the Sahel, following generally favourable weather conditions throughout the growing season.
However, the severe food crisis that hit the subregion in 2004/05 had serious income, livelihoods and nutrition effects and resulted in depletion of household assets including animals, as well as high levels of indebtedness, notably in Niger and parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania.
In spite of the improved food supply situation in these countries, assistance is still needed for income generating and asset reconstitution activities in order to strengthen access to food for vulnerable households.
In Côte d’Ivoire, insecurity and the de facto partition of the country continue to disrupt agricultural production and marketing activities.
In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, food assistance continues to be needed for internally displaced people and refugees.
Crop prospects and food security outlook are unfavourable in several countries due mainly to civil strife and insecurity.
Overall crop prospects are favourable in Cameroon, but food insecurity persists in Chari and Logone Division of the Extreme North which experienced a severe food crisis in 2005.
The National Early Warning System in Burundi has warned of serious food insecurity beginning December 2005 due to a prolonged dry spell. A similar weather pattern is expected to affect the 2006 A season crops.