FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2, August 2001 3

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Food situation deteriorating in Sudan while continued assistance required by several countries in eastern Africa. Recent escalation of the conflict in southern Sudan, particularly in Bahr El Ghazal, has displaced a large number of people and aggravated the already precarious food situation. Two consecutive years of reduced cereal harvests and depletion of stocks have led to sharp increases in cereal prices. Consequently, the number of people in need of assistance, currently estimated at some 2.97 million people, is expected to increase. In Somalia, despite the good harvests in the last two cropping seasons, severe food difficulties are expected in parts due to poor prospects for the current main season crops. Slow recovery from a succession of droughts in recent years and long-term effects of years of insecurity have undermined households' ability to withstand shocks. In Eritrea, the food outlook remains bleak with large numbers of the displaced farmers unable to return to their farms and large tracts of land still inaccessible due to landmines. The slow response to humanitarian appeals is also a major concern with only a small fraction of the Government's appeal met so far. In Kenya, despite an overall improvement in food supply, inadequate rains in May and June, particularly in pastoral districts, have dimmed hopes of recovery from the effects of the recent devastating drought. In Ethiopia, favourable prospects for the current short rains "belg" crop, preceded by a bumper "meher" season harvest late last year, have significantly improved the food supply situation in the country. However, some 6.5 million people affected by successive droughts and the war with neighbouring Eritrea depend on food assistance. A sharp decline in grain prices in main producing areas has adversely affected household incomes and may negatively impact on farmers' production decisions in the "meher" season, which has just started. In Uganda and Tanzania, the overall food supply situation is adequate following favourable rainfall.

In southern Africa, food production has significantly declined in several countries, due to lower plantings and adverse weather. Maize output, which accounts for over 90 percent of the sub-region's total cereal production, is estimated at 13.7 million tonnes, 26 percent lower than in the previous year and well below average. In Zimbabwe, maize output is estimated at over one-quarter below the level of 2000, reflecting lower plantings and reduced yields. As a result, the overall food supply situation is expected to be very tight as the country faces severe shortages of foreign exchange, which constrain commercial imports. In Swaziland and Lesotho, import requirements have increased sharply compared to last year due to large falls in 2001 cereal production. Also Zambia, Namibia and Botswana have suffered significant falls in coarse grain production. By contrast, this year's cereal production in Angola is estimated to be significantly above last year due to improved IDPs' access to land, increased agricultural inputs distribution and generally favourable weather. However, over 1.3 million internally displaced people need emergency food assistance.

Several countries in western Africa face food supply difficulties resulting from civil strife or localised weather adversities in 2000. The food situation is particularly tight in parts of Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger following reduced harvests. In Guinea and Sierra Leone, fighting in border areas affected agricultural and marketing activities and caused new waves of population displacement. Food difficulties persist in Liberia, as agricultural production has not yet fully recovered from the long years of civil strife.

Despite favourable weather conditions, food emergencies persist in the Great Lakes region due to conflicts. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the food and nutrition situation of an estimated 2 million internally displaced people is very serious but insecurity continues to hinder provision of humanitarian assistance. However, some improvement in security conditions has allowed the resumption of commercial traffic between Kinshasa and Kisangani on the River Congo after three years of closure. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes Region, increased insecurity in Burundi has displaced large numbers of rural people, disrupting food production and marketing activities, while in Rwanda the security situation remains precarious in parts.

Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements are set to remain high in 2001/02, reflecting large shortfalls in production in southern Africa.

FAO/GIEWS - August 2001

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