List of countries needing emergency assistance rises to 38, food situation critical in southern Sudan
The Sudan heads the watchlist of countries requiring emergency food assistance published in the latest issue of Foodcrops and Shortages. The list now stands at 38 countries, up one from the last report in February 1998.
Prolonged civil strife in southern Sudan has led to a "critical" food situation in that area, according to the report. Food shortages are widespread and malnutrition is reported to be increasing. Intensified conflict since January has resulted in fresh waves of displaced people, aggravating an already precarious food situation following the 1997 drought-reduced harvest.
Indonesia is the new addition to the report's list of countries requiring emergency assistance because of current food supply shortfalls, bringing the total to 38. Twenty-two of these are affected or threatened by successive bad crops or food shortages.
An FAO/World Food Programme mission to Indonesia in March found that the combined effect of severe drought attributed to El Niño and the unprecedented financial crisis in Asia has seriously undermined food security in the country. Currently, 7.5 million people in Indonesia are facing acute food shortages. Large-scale international assistance will be required to meet the country's record uncovered rice deficit of 2 million tonnes in 1998/99.
Foodcrops and Shortages, published five times a year by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), provides country-by-country assessment of crop prospects and food supply situation. Special attention is given to countries where the prospects for current crops are unfavorable, because of decreased planting areas, adverse weather conditions and plant pests and diseases, for example, or which face exceptional food shortages for reasons including crop failure, natural disasters or increased food demand caused by population movements within the country or an influx of refugees.
Adverse weather attributed to El Niño continues to pose a threat to crops across the globe. In Cuba, torrential rains and flooding since mid-March have affected all crops, particularly the important foreign-exchange earner, sugar cane. In South America, heavy rains and flooding, combined with drought in some parts, persist in the Andean countries. Severe drought conditions are expected to reduce this year's secondary paddy and maize crops in the Philippines
There is good news from Pakistan where a record wheat output has been predicted largely as a result of increased planting area and fertilizer use. India and Bangladesh are also expecting average to above-average wheat harvests. A record maize crop is expected in Argentina, and better than average outputs are anticipated in Paraguay and Uruguay.