Africa Report 05/96

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Precarious food security outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, as global cereal supplies tighten and food aid availabilities shrink. Sharp increases in cereal prices on the world market and consequent higher cost of cereal imports, coupled with balance of payments difficulties in food deficit African countries, will mean that a large proportion of food imports of the region will need to be covered by food aid. FAO, however, forecasts that global availability of food aid in 1995/96 will be 7.6 million tons, down for the third consecutive year and the lowest for 20 years. The reduced availability and continued stiff competition for food aid from countries of eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States suggests that Africa's minimum food needs in 1996/97 will remain unmet. Unless exceptional food aid allocations are made, undernutrition will rise further from its already high level.

Slim prospects for recovery in food production in Liberia. Recent civil disturbances in Monrovia could undermine the fragile peace accord signed in 1995, further disrupt agricultural production in 1996 and hamper relief operations in all parts of the country. Domestic food production is seriously reduced due to the effects of six years of civil strife and the current volatile situation is not conducive to a much needed recovery in production. Agricultural production also continues to be hampered in Sierra Leone by insecurity and internal conflict. Elsewhere in western Africa, the food supply situation is generally stable, although localized food supply difficulties persist in several traditional food deficit areas of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger. In the Sahelian countries, seasonally dry conditions prevail, while planting of the first maize crop has begun in southern areas of countries along the Gulf of Guinea.

In the Horn of Africa, aggregate cereal output in 1995/96 estimated to be lower than last year, despite a good second season cereal crop. A decline in the main season harvest more than offset an increase in the second season crop output. In Kenya and Sudan, though production declined overall it remained close to average. In both Eritrea and Somalia, outputs were poor and the food situation is expected to deteriorate in coming months, unless flows of food assistance are maintained until the next harvests later in the year. Elsewhere in Eastern Africa, Tanzania and Uganda gathered record harvests.

Food supply situation remaining tight in Burundi and Rwanda. Food production in both countries remains depressed as a result of massive population displacement. In Burundi, continuing insecurity is also seriously disrupting agricultural activities in several parts. In Rwanda, the number of returnees so far remains well below expectation. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, the food supply situation remains tight, particularly in the urban areas of Zaire. Overall, some 2.4 million refugees and displaced persons will require continued emergency assistance through 1996 in the Great Lakes region.

A bumper harvest in prospect in Southern Africa, notwithstanding significant crop damage in several countries by floods and pests. Sustained rains have favoured widespread plantings in most countries and an above average maize harvest is in prospect in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. However, flooding in parts of Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi , South Africa and Zambia, together with pest infestations, threaten crop prospects in some areas. Early indications point to the possibility of South Africa and Zimbabwe becoming self-sufficient in maize once again, and possibly generating significant surpluses. However, much of the surplus is likely to be used to replenish depleted stocks. FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are currently visiting Angola and Mozambique to evaluate the harvest outcome and the food supply outlook for 1996/97.

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