Droughts and floods ravage Asia
Afghanistan: The country is facing an acute food
crisis in 2000/2001. Two consecutive years of severe drought
and continuing economic difficulties caused by protracted
civil conflicts have left millions of people with little
access to food. The current drought, considered to be the
worst in three decades, has caused a sharp decline in crop
production. The total cereal harvest for 2000, estimated at
1.82 million tonnes, is about 44 percent below the
drought-reduced harvest of 1999. The drought has also led to
high rates of livestock mortality, estimated to be as high
as 80 percent in some areas.
Bangladesh: Monsoon floods have caused extensive
damage in many parts of the country. Although flood waters
have receded in the north, central and southern districts
remain badly affected. The situation in low-lying areas
around the capital is expected to grow worse, as most rivers
are flowing above danger levels.
Bhutan: Floods have brought large-scale destruction in some areas, and landslides have killed approximately 200 people in the country's central highland region.
Cambodia: The country has received more than twice
the normal rainfall this year. The Mekong river broke its
banks, causing extensive localized flooding in the fertile
delta. The flooding has claimed 13 lives and affected 106
000 hectares of crops. Rivers remain high, and there are
concerns that as the monsoon season progresses, additional
rainfall will lead to even more flooding.
China: A severe drought has destroyed crops and
led to large-scale water shortages in northern China. This
year's summer cereal harvest is estimated to be around 107.5
million tonnes - about 11 million tonnes, or 9 percent, less
than 1999. The yield of early rice, grown from March to
July, is also expected to decline due to reductions in the
area planted. The early rice harvest is forecast to be
approximately 37.5 million tonnes - down around 8 percent
from last year.
Commonwealth of Independent States: The countries
facing food shortages include Armenia, Georgia
and Tajikistan, where agricultural production has
been seriously affected by unusually hot and dry conditions
this spring and summer. In addition, chronic economic
problems have led to shortages of improved seed, a lack of
working capital and the deterioration of irrigation systems.
As a result, the 2000 cereal harvest in these countries is
projected to fall sharply. In Tajikistan, this year's cereal
harvest, expected to be 236 000 tonnes, is down nearly 50
percent from 1999.
DPR Korea: Early prospects for food grain
production are unpromising following erratic and
below-average rainfall prior to the 2000 cropping season.
DPR Korea depends almost entirely on its main growing season
(May to October) for domestic food supplies. This production
is extremely important, as the country's capacity to import
food and essential agricultural inputs remains severely
limited by lack of foreign exchange. Despite large
international food assistance in recent years, the food
outlook for 2000/2001 remains precarious.
India: Heavy rains and flooding have devastated the country's northeastern states. The state of Assam has been the hardest hit, with around 3 000 villages submerged and an estimated 2.5 million people made homeless. In Bihar, 1,000 villages have been flooded, affecting around 1.6 million people. In West Bengal, the floods have forced 200 000 people from their homes. The situation has raised fears of food shortages and outbreaks of disease, such as malaria and diarrhoea. The Indian Government is distributing food and clean water, but many areas remain difficult to reach.
Floods have also brought misery to India's northern state
of Himachal Pradesh, killing at least 150 people and leaving
many homeless. Crop damage was extensive and a number of
irrigation facilities have been destroyed.
The Islamic Republic of Iran: Two consecutive years of drought have hit the country hard. Water shortages threaten to displace up to 60 percent of the rural population. As the drought continues, increasing numbers of people will become almost entirely dependent on water tankers.
The situation for livestock producers is particularly precarious. Livestock losses from malnutrition and disease are estimated at 800 000 animals, and more losses are expected due to shortages of water and feed. It is estimated that around 200 000 nomadic herders have either already lost or are at risk of losing their only source of income.
Mongolia: The worst winter weather in 30 years
killed over 1.5 million head of livestock and destroyed the
livelihood of a large segment of the population. As a
result, the food supply situation remains extremely tight
for thousands of nomadic families.
Nepal: Floods and landslides have killed 105
people and displaced several hundred families.
Pakistan: Despite some much-needed rainfall,
Baluchistan province has not yet recovered from a severe
drought and the food supply situation remains
28 August 2000