Food shortages continue in much of sub-Saharan Africa

As 2000 draws to a close, severe food shortages persist in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly due to drought and civil conflict. The food crisis affects an estimated 28 million people, up from 19 million in 1999, according to a new FAO report. The situation is most critical in eastern Africa, where 20 million people will require continued food assistance well into 2001.

Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan need large cereal imports, mostly in the form of food aid, to prevent starvation, says the latest issue of FAO's "Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa." The report is published three times a year by the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

In Angola, disruption of agricultural activities due to insecurity during the critical planting period threatens the already precarious food situation. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ongoing conflict continues to hamper economic and agricultural activities, and the number of internally displaced persons has reached two million. The food situation for the displaced is extremely tight, as persistent fighting and lack of security leave humanitarian agencies unable to reach displaced people. Civil strife is also disrupting food production in Burundi, Sierra Leone and Sudan. Additional countries facing exceptional food emergencies are the Republic of Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.

Due to reduced production in many areas, sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements are expected to remain high in 2001. Continuing financial difficulties in many of these countries mean that a large part of these imports will need to be met by food aid in order to avert hardship and loss of life.

Full press release
Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in sub-Saharan Africa No. 3, December 2000 (in pdf)
Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS)

27 December 2000

EUROFISH: helping fisheries across Europe

Since the political and economic upheavals of the 1990s, Central and Eastern Europe have faced increasing challenges and opportunities. For the fisheries sector this has meant changing circumstances in fish processing, aquaculture and trade. Today, the 20 countries, home to 350 million people, represent a growing marketplace for fish and fish products.

To develop fisheries in a sustainable and sound manner, an international organization, EUROFISH, is currently being established, coordinated by FAO. EUROFISH, whose members will include EU nations and countries of Central and Eastern Europe, will have its first governing council in Copenhagen in mid-2001.

EUROFISH aims to promote and develop trade, assist in financing and investment, and provide up-to-date information on fisheries. The overall objective is to facilitate trade and investment in fish processing and aquaculture with member country governments and the private sector.

Building on the outputs of its predecessor -- the FAO EASTFISH Project -- EUROFISH already includes a network of contact points in 19 Central and Eastern European countries. It also has a publication EUROFISH Magazine and an advisory board representing the fish industry to provide professional advice and assistance.

Fish Marketing & Investment Service for Central and Eastern Europe
FISH INFOnetwork
For more information, please contact

12 December 2000

FAO launches e-forum on media for development

The FAO Communication for Development Group is hosting an e-mail discussion beginning 4 December.

The electronic forum will provide a place for communication professionals to share best practices on the use of local (traditional, folk and popular) media and new media, such as the Internet, for development. The forum is open to anyone interested in the topic. Among those who have already subscribed are people from the academic community, non-governmental organizations and the media, including a number of journalists from developing countries.

Issues for discussion include:

  • the ways in which development agencies can use local media to transmit information without exploiting or destabilizing local cultures;
  • the appropriateness of various media to the messages being conveyed;
  • media ownership and access -- that is, what local participation means and how to encourage local involvement in the design and implementation of communication programmes;
  • the extent to which the new information technologies, such as the Internet, reach the poor;
  • how to ensure that the content of these technologies, usually generated in the North, is relevant to local cultures;
  • the potential for the marriage of new technologies with traditional/folk media.

Click here for more information or to subscribe

5 December 2000

World AIDS Day



FAO estimates that the AIDS epidemic has killed at least 7 million agricultural workers in Africa since1985 and could kill 16 million more by 2020. This loss of so many productive members of rural society is severely affecting household capacity to produce and buy food.

The Organization is marking World AIDS Day on 1 December with a symposium at its Rome headquarters on recent trends in the spread of the disease and the implications for agriculture and food security. One devastating trend being discussed is the impact of AIDS on ministries of agriculture, the bodies that plan and oversee development efforts in the sector. In Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, for example, 58 percent of all staff deaths are due to AIDS, while at least 16 percent of the staff in Malawi's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation are living with the disease.

AIDS is undermining the sustainability of overall development as well. People are dying before they can pass on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. In the first ten months of 1998, Zambia lost 1 300 teachers to AIDS -- the eqivalent of around two thirds of all new teachers trained annually. The sale of productive resources to care for the sick and pay for funerals also diverts funds away from long-term development.

FAO in depth focus: AIDS -- a threat to rural Africa

30 November 2000

World Food Summit -- five years later



Progress in fulfilling the commitments made at the 1996 World Food Summit will be assessed in November 2001 at the "World Food Summit: five years later".

The decision by the FAO Council, the Organization's governing body, followed a call by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf for an international conference to review the progress in the fight against hunger. He proposed that Heads of State or Government meet to review the steps taken to achieve the Summit goal: to cut by half the number of hungry people in the world by 2015. He underlined that the present state of global food insecurity "requires action beyond business as usual".

The Council unanimously supported "a reaffirmation of commitment to the objectives of the 1996 World Food Summit, and of the need to intensify efforts to reach the Summit's target by 2015." It recognized that the Director-General's intention was to mobilize political will to fulfil the undertakings made in Rome in 1996.

World Food Summit 1996

 29 November 2000

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