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Food shortages imperil 3 million in southern Sudan


Over 3 million people in southern Sudan are facing serious food shortages due to ongoing civil conflict and an emerging drought, according to a new report issued by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The hardest-hit populations are in Darfur, Kordofan, East Equatoria, Jonglei and parts of Bahr el Ghazal, where continued fighting compounds the drought conditions. Food stocks are dwindling rapidly, and prices have tripled since the same period last year. Very high cereal prices coupled with fast-falling livestock prices due to distress selling are particularly affecting pastoralists, according to the report, a result of a joint FAO/WFP mission that visited 24 of Sudan's 26 states in November.

The poor harvests have affected around 900 000 people, with 600 000 in need of urgent food assistance. In addition, 2.4 million people affected by the ongoing civil strife in the south will continue to require food aid in 2001.

Urgent assistance is needed to provide seeds and other agricultural inputs for the next cropping season, which begins in June/July 2001, and to mitigate the severe water shortages in the most-affected areas. Critical shortages for both humans and livestock, especially in Darfur and Kordofan, are forcing people to move in search of water.

Although aggregate cereal output for 2000 -- estimated at 3.6 million tonnes -- is about 14 percent higher than last year's crop, it is 18 percent below the previous five-year average. The country will need to import 1.2 million tonnes of cereals, of which 1 million tonnes are expected to be imported commercially and the rest as food aid. To date, only 34 000 tonnes of food aid have been pledged.

5 January 2001

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