FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2 - September 2005 p.3
Prospects for the 2005 main season cereal crops have improved in some major producing areas of the subregion due to favourable rains.
The overall food situation, however, remains precarious with high malnutrition rates reported in several countries in the subregion due to the effects of war, displacement and earlier droughts. Currently, more than 18 million people in the subregion depend on humanitarian assistance.
The situation in Sudan is particularly alarming due to continued conflict that has resulted in a serious food situation, especially in Darfur and southern Sudan.
In Somalia, recent assessments indicate severe food insecurity in several parts of the country. Below average 2005 main “gu” season harvest in southern Somalia coupled with an upsurge in civil strife have exacerbated the situation. Nearly one million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Recent food aid pledges for Eritrea and Ethiopia have boosted the food aid pipeline, but deliveries need to be accelerated.
About 12 million people in the subregion, two-thirds of them in Zimbabwe and Malawi, are in need of emergency food assistance in the current marketing year. The situation is expected to worsen during the lean months until the next harvest in April-May, unless international relief is provided urgently.
Most countries of the subregion including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia and Swaziland have gathered below average main season cereal harvests in 2005.
In Zimbabwe, high inflation coupled with shortages of maize grain and fuel as well as transport problems are causing serious food insecurity. For the same reasons, prospects for 2006 are dire, regardless of rainfall.
In Malawi, about 4.6 million vulnerable people are facing severe food shortages and require an estimated 414 000 tonnes of cereals in emergency assistance. Current high maize prices are exacerbating the situation.
Above average cereal harvests have been estimated for South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar. South Africa’s record maize harvest of 12.4 million tonnes is estimated to result in an exportable surplus of about 5 million tonnes, more than enough to cover the subregion’s import requirements.
WFP’s regional Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation has so far received only 30 percent of the 704 000 tonnes requirement over a three-year period (2005-07).
The Sahel and northern parts of coastal countries continue to face a difficult lean season, due to depleted household food stocks and unusually high food prices. However, current season crop development in the Sahel has been satisfactory so far in main producing zones, due to favourable growing conditions.
In Niger, the food situation remains critical, and WFP has expanded its emergency operation to assist 2.5 million people until the end of the lean season in October.
In Côte d’Ivoire, insecurity, labour shortages and the de facto partition of the country continue to disrupt agricultural production and marketing activities.
In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, food assistance continues to be needed for internally displaced people and refugees.
Cereal harvests of the main season (2005B) were favourable in Rwanda and Burundi with improvements in the order of 33 percent and 7 percent above the five-year averages in the two countries, respectively.
Food insecurity persists in the violence-prone eastern part of DRC and in pockets of chronically vulnerable districts in Burundi and Rwanda.