JOHANNESBURG/ROME, 26 August 2002 -
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged donor
countries to commit critically needed food aid and financial
support to Southern Africa to avert a large scale humanitarian
crisis. The call came in a report, which says that the number of
people in need of emergency food aid in Southern Africa is close
to 13 million.
The report warned that only
24 percent of the US$507.3 million needed to provide food
assistance to more than 10 million people until the next main
harvest in April 2003 has been pledged. Assistance is also
urgently needed to provide agricultural inputs to help farmers
recover from the crisis. Against FAO's estimated
requirements of US$25 million in mid-August pledges covered only
26 percent of the amount needed.
FAO's tri-annual Food Supply Situation and Crop
Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa, lists 21 countries* in the
region as facing "food emergencies," up from
19 in April this year. The causes include civil strife, drought,
excessive rain, flooding and population displacement.
"The food situation in southern Africa is of
grave concern," the report says. "A prolonged
dry spell during the 2001/02 growing season, and excessive
precipitation in parts, devastated crops in large growing areas.
In Zimbabwe, reduced planting in the large-scale commercial
sector due to land reform activities compounded the problem.
Maize production in the sub-region fell sharply, reaching less
than one-quarter of last year's level in Zimbabwe,
one-third in Lesotho and just over a half in Malawi, Zambia and
Zimbabwe, the "food and nutritional
situation gives cause for serious concern following two
consecutive sharply reduced cereal harvests and the
country's prevailing economic crisis." There are
shortages of the main staple, maize, particularly in rural
areas. Overall, high levels of inflation continue to erode
access of poor households to food and non-food items. The
outlook for the crop and livestock production 2002/03 is said to
be "bleak due to disruption of farming activities in
the large-scale commercial sector."
More than half the country's population is
reported in need of food aid and FAO calls for
"additional donor contributions" to stem the
deterioration of the food situation. Assistance with
agricultural inputs is also "urgently required to
enable drought-affected farming families to restart agricultural
production during the next main planting season starting October
has also been hard hit by the food crisis with instances of
starvation reported in parts of the country earlier this year.
The report estimates that some 3.2 million people have been
seriously hurt by the combined effects of reduced food
availability and food access. Distribution of relief food has
begun to about 500,000 people. That number will rise to 3.2
million by December. So far, the report says, food aid
requirements have been well resourced by donor contributions.
In Zambia, severe crop
losses during the last cropping season due to drought have left
some 2.3 million people, or about one-quarter of the population,
in need of food assistance. In the worst affected Southern
Province 60 percent of the population require relief food
A cease-fire agreement in
Angola has revealed the extent of suffering
by people trapped in rural areas of the country. Large numbers
of severely malnourished people have since made their way to
reception and transit centres and up to half a million people
are reported in critical nutritional condition. More
malnourished people will likely be found as the security
situation in the country improves and more areas become
At the national level,
Mozambique had a good cereal harvest, but the
food situation in the southern region and parts of central
regions is extremely tight, because crops were devastated by
drought. Cereal production in these areas declinedby one-third
from last year's already reduced level. FAO estimates that
515,000 people in 43 districts of the Southern and Central
regions are facing severe food shortages and need emergency food
In Namibia, the
food supply situation is said to be "tight"
following a sharp decline in this year's cereal production.
The country faces a cereal deficit of about 156,000 tonnes in
2002/03. A recent vulnerability assessment by the government
found that 500,000 people will need food aid as a result of the
Elsewhere in southern
Africa, the food supply situation is difficult in
Lesotho and Swaziland
where some 585,000 people are in need of food assistance.
Emergency assistance with agricultural inputs such as seeds and
fertilizer is also required to help disaster-affected farming
families to restart agricultural production.
In parts of Eastern Africa the outlook for the 2002
crops in most countries of the sub-region is unfavourable, due
to late onset of the rainy season and extended dry spells.
Serious food shortages have started to emerge in several areas,
particularly in Eritrea, parts of
Ethiopia and Kenya.
The food situation is said to be generally
improved in the Great Lakes region, but
difficulties persist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In
Western Africa, crop prospects have
deteriorated in some parts due to extended dry weather over most
parts of the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal.
Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import
requirements are expected to remain high, reflecting the sharp
falls in cereal production in southern Africa. Reduced
production in eastern Africa and increased population
displacements in other parts of the continent due to conflict
can also be expected to drive up import requirements. FAO
estimates the total food aid requirement for the region at 1.81
tonnes for the current marketing year. Food aid pledges for
2001/02, including those carried over from 2000/01, amount to
1.22 million tonnes of which 1.06 million tonnes have been
While FAO's Global
Information and Early Warning Service monitors the food and crop
situation throughout the world, including sub-Saharan Africa,
the Organization's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation
Division provides assistance to people affected by natural and
Operations and Rehabilitation Division is at work in a number of
countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola, Burundi,
Congo, Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes and Central
Africa, Somalia and Sudan. The Division provides assistance to
the livestock and agriculture sectors to get food production up
and working as soon as possible following a disaster. Its aim
is to ensure that the population can feed itself again as
quickly as possible.
countries facing food emergencies are: Angola,
Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi,
Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland,
Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.