Twenty million people are currently affected by serious food shortages in eastern Africa, due to the lingering effects of drought and conflicts in parts. The food situation is particularly serious in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya, where large cereal imports, mostly as food aid, are still needed. In Eritrea, mass displacement of farmers from the main cereal producing regions of Gash Barka and Debub, which account for more than 70 percent of cereal production, has jeopardised production this year. The food situation of nearly 1.5 million war-displaced and about 300 000 drought affected people gives cause for serious concern. In Ethiopia, despite recent rains, the overall food supply situation remains highly precarious. An estimated 10.2 million people are in need of food assistance. In Somalia, 750 000 people are estimated to rely on emergency food assistance, reflecting diminished livelihoods due to a succession of droughts and insecurity. In Kenya, drought-induced food shortages persist with nearly 3.3 million people estimated to be in urgent need of food assistance. The severe scarcity of water and pasture in northern and eastern parts has resulted in large livestock losses. In Sudan, serious food shortages have emerged in many parts due to prolonged dry spells; food prices have more than doubled over the same period last year. Already an estimated 2.4 million people rely on food assistance due to civil conflict and adverse weather. In Tanzania, food production in a number of regions was adversely affected by late and insufficient rains, leaving an estimated 800 000 people in need of assistance. In Uganda, the food supply situation remains precarious in the north-east due to drought and in Bundibugyo District in the west, due to civil strife. The number of people in need of assistance is now estimated at 1.2 million.
A bleak food supply outlook for the Great Lakes region. Persistent civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to cause massive population displacement, with the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) currently estimated at 2 million. The food supply situation of these displaced people is extremely serious, as distribution of relief assistance is hampered by insecurity. The food supply situation in Kinshasa is also serious, as food availability falls far short of needs. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, in Rwanda and Burundi long dry spells have adversely affected production of basic staples and delayed planting of the 2001 first season cereal and bean crops. Rwanda has appealed for food aid and agricultural inputs assistance for 267 000 most affected people. In Burundi, food aid is targeted to 700 000 people who face food shortages following a succession of reduced harvests.
Growing insecurity is set to aggravate Angola's food problem in 2001. The disruption of agricultural activities at the critical planting time will result in a reduced harvest, further aggravating the already precarious food situation in the country. The number of internally displaced persons, which is continuing to rise, is currently estimated at 2.5 million. However, food aid distributions continue to be problematic due to insecurity. New flows of refugees to neighbouring countries, notably to the Democratic Republic of Congo, are also reported. The food supply prospects for Zimbabwe also give cause for concern due to the economic crisis and agricultural disruption related to land reform issues. In Madagascar, food aid is needed for 240 000 people in drought-affected southern regions. Elsewhere in Southern Africa, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory reflecting this year's bumper cereal harvest.
In the Sahel, this year's cereal harvest is estimated to be significantly below last year's output, reflecting reduced rainfall in August and September. The reduced precipitation also resulted in an earlier drying of pastures in most parts, except in the west. The food supply situation is expected to be tight in Chad following a seriously reduced harvest, notably in the Sahelian zone. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are generally favourable. However, Sierra Leone will remain highly dependant on international food assistance in 2001, as a result of heightened insecurity at planting time. In Liberia, some improvement in food production is anticipated; an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently reviewing the harvest prospects and the food supply situation in the country.
Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements are expected to remain high in 2001, reflecting reduced production in several parts. However, continuing financial difficulties in the low-income food-deficit countries of the region mean that a substantial part of these imports will have to be met by food aid. In view of the strong competition for food aid from other parts of the world affected by supply shortages, additional food aid pledges will be needed to avert hardship and loss of life.