Rome, 17 December 2002 - Some 40 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are threatened by severe food shortages and a major humanitarian crisis is deepening in southern Africa, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.
This bleak warning came in a report released by the UN food agency in Rome. It said the food situation is most serious in southern Africa, where 16.7 million people need emergency food assistance to survive until the next harvest in April 2003.
Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa warns: "There is urgent need to expedite commercial imports and food aid distributions to avert a major humanitarian catastrophe in southern Africa." The report is based in part on latest information available to FAO and World Food Programme on the countries concerned. Because of the high rates of HIV/AIDS throughout the sub-region, widespread hunger threatens many people with life-threatening complications.
FAO and WFP have estimated the total food shortfall for southern Africa at 1.6 million tonnes, after expected commercial imports. WFP has appealed for 993 000 tonnes of food aid. So far, 663 000 tonnes, or 67 percent, have been pledged.
According to the report, distributions have been seriously delayed in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Commercial maize imports have also been slow and prices have started to rise in several countries.
In Angola, despite being able to reach hungry people in areas that were earlier cut off because of the war, food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high. Internally displaced persons returning home lack access to basic health services, says the report.
FAO has appealed for $12.7 million to help the neediest farmers in Southern Africa with much-needed agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilizer and hand tools, for the next cropping season.
The report also warns that serious food shortages are looming in several countries in the Horn of Africa, where at least 17.5 million people are without sufficient food. The situation is most serious in Eritrea and Ethiopia where food aid is urgently needed to prevent famine. In Eritrea, a third of the population is facing severe food shortages because of drought. In addition, humanitarian assistance is still needed for people who were displaced by the war with Ethiopia and for refugees returning from Sudan.
In Ethiopia, poor and erratic rains have caused severe food problems for millions of people. Large numbers of livestock have died and unusual population migrations are reported, especially in the eastern and pastoral areas. A joint FAO/WFP assessment mission has just returned from the country and its report is to be released shortly.
Many people in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda also need food assistance because of production shortfalls caused by poor rains and in some cases civil conflict.
In the Great Lakes region, the food outlook for Rwanda and Burundi is poor because the first season harvests of 2003 are forecast to decline due to delayed rainfall. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the escalation of fighting in the east has caused people to flee their farms. Acute malnutrition continues to increase among internally displaced persons as the fighting hinders humanitarian assistance.
Western Africa is also suffering from food problems, especially in Mauritania, where three consecutive poor harvests have led to an extremely serious food situation. The report estimates that this year's cereal harvest in the Sahel is below last year's, because of insufficient rainfall.
In Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, agricultural activities have been disrupted by civil strife leading to reduced harvest prospects. Côte d'Ivoire will need emergency food assistance, while both Sierra Leone and Guinea are already heavily dependent on international food assistance because of large numbers of internally displaced people and refugees.
Overall, 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are facing food emergencies caused by problems that range from drought and adverse weather to civil strive, economic difficulties, an increase in internally displaced people and an influx of refugees. This is almost half the countries in the region: Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
For further information, please consult the full report on Sub-Saharan Africa on the FAO Web. Full report will be available from 14:00 p.m. Rome time today at the following URL: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/faoinfo/economic/giews/english/eaf/eaftoc.htm
Telephone: +39 06 5705 3259
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FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION AND CROP PROSPECTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
No. 3, Decembert 2002
Countries facing food emergencies:
Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central Afr. Rep., Congo Dem. Rep. of, Congo Rep. of, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
This is the third of three issues in 2002 of this report prepared by the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on the food supply situation, cereal import and food aid requirements for all countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The report is designed to provide the latest analysis and information on the food situation in these countries to governments, international organizations and other institutions engaged in humanitarian operations.
Part I focuses on the continuing food crisis in southern Africa, particularly in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and parts of Mozambique. It highlights the looming food crisis in the Horn of Africa, especially in Eritrea, Ethiopia and parts of Sudan due to drought-induced poor harvests. The report also draws attention to emerging food shortages in western parts of the Sahel as well as the continuing need for food assistance in the Great Lakes region, Angola, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to population displacements, refugees and insecurity.
Part II contains an assessment of crop prospects and the food supply situation by sub-region, giving the latest estimates of cereal import and food aid requirements of all four sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa.
Part III presents the latest analysis and information on crop prospects and the food supply situation and outlook in each country. The information on food aid pledges, triangular transactions and local purchases, and on expected arrivals, is based on data transmitted to GIEWS as of early December 2002 by the following donors: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, EC, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States as well as the World Food Programme.
COUNTRIES FACING FOOD EMERGENCIES (Total: 25 countries)
|Country||Reasons for emergency|
|Angola||Internally displaced persons (IDPs)|
|Burundi||Civil strife, IDPs|
|Central Afr. Rep.||Civil strife|
|Congo, Dem. Rep. of||Civil strife, IDPs and refugees|
|Congo, Rep. of||Civil strife, IDPs|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Civil strife, IDPs|
|Eritrea||Drought, IDPs, returnees|
|Guinea||IDPs and refugees|
|Kenya||Drought in parts|
|Liberia||Civil strife, IDPs|
|Madagascar||Drought in parts, economic problems|
|Mauritania||Drought, irrigation water shortages|
|Mozambique||Drought in parts|
|Sierra Leone||Civil strife, IDPs|
|Somalia||Civil strife, drought in parts|
|Sudan||Civil strife in the south and east, drought in parts|
|Swaziland||Drought in parts|
|Tanzania||Poor rains in parts, refugees|
|Uganda||Civil strife, IDPs, drought in parts|
|Zambia||Drought in parts|
|Zimbabwe||Drought, economic problems|
Since conditions can change rapidly, and published information may not always represent the most up-to-date basis for action, enquiries or corrections should be directed to Henri Josserand, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service (ESCG), FAO, Rome (Fax: 39-06-5705-4495, E-mail: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG).
Please note that this report is available on the Internet as part of the FAO World Wide Web (www.fao.org) at the following address: http://www.fao.org/giews/
In Southern Africa, the food crisis is worsening as food shortages become more acute, particularly in Zimbabwe. For the region as a whole, food aid requirements amount to 1.6 million tonnes, about half of which are still uncovered. As a result of two consecutive poor cereal harvests, 14.4 million people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland need emergency food assistance to survive until the next harvest in April 2003. The impact of food shortages is aggravated by the high rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence across the region. Of WFP's emergency appeal in July for 993 050 tonnes of food to assist 10.3 million most affected people in these six countries, pledges by late November amounted to 662 945 tonnes or 67 percent. Commercial maize imports have been slow and prices have started to rise in several countries. With the critical hunger period January-March approaching, there is urgent need to expedite commercial imports and food aid distributions. The outlook for the 2003 cereal crops, now being planted, is uncertain. Dry weather prevailed in the sub-region in the second and third dekad of November delaying planting and shortening the agricultural season. Precipitation has resumed in several areas since the first dekad of December, notably in South Africa, providing much needed relief. However, more rains are needed elsewhere to prevent yet another poor harvest in southern Africa. In Angola, despite improved access to the needy population, food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high, and IDPs returning home have no basic health services. FAO has appealed for US$ 12.7 million to assist the most affected farmers in the sub-region with agricultural inputs for the next cropping season.
In eastern Africa, serious food shortages have emerged in several countries of the Horn of Africa. The food situation is particularly serious in Eritrea and Ethiopia where food aid is urgently needed to prevent famine. In Eritrea, more than a third of the population face severe food shortages due to drought. In addition, humanitarian assistance continues to be needed for the population displaced by the war with Ethiopia in 1998-2000 and returning refugees from Sudan. In Ethiopia, poor and erratic rains have led to severe food difficulties, particularly in pastoral areas in the east where water supplies and pastures are dwindling. Large numbers of livestock have died and unusual population migrations are reported in these areas. The Government has recently appealed to the international community for food assistance for more than 11 million people. Elsewhere in eastern Africa, large numbers of people in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda need food assistance due to production shortfalls caused by poor rainfall and/or civil conflict.
In the Great Lakes region, the food outlook is poor in Rwanda and Burundi where the 2003 first season harvests from January are forecast to fall due to delayed onset of rains. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the escalation of fighting in eastern parts has resulted in new population displacements. Acute malnutrition continues to be on the increase among the IDPs as insecurity hinders humanitarian assistance.
In western Africa, this year's cereal harvest in the Sahel is estimated below last year's, reflecting insufficient rainfall in parts. The food situation is extremely serious in Mauritania, following three consecutive poor harvests. Food assistance is urgently needed for sections of the population, particularly in rural areas. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are mixed. Agricultural activities in Liberia have been disrupted by renewed civil strife, pointing to reduced rice production this year. Emergency food assistance is needed in Côte d'Ivoire, following a resurgence of civil strife, while Sierra Leone and Guinea remain heavily dependent on international food assistance due to large numbers of IDPs and refugees.
Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements in 2003 are expected to increase over 2002, reflecting reduced harvests in eastern, southern and western Africa, mainly due to drought.
PART I: OVERVIEW
As 2002 draws to a close, the food situation in southern Africa remains grave, particularly in Zimbabwe. The food outlook in eastern Africa is also bleak, particularly in Ethiopia and Eritrea, mainly due to drought. In the Great Lakes region, insecurity and flare-ups in civil conflicts continue to disrupt agricultural production. In western Africa, the food situation in Mauritania is very serious following three consecutive years of poor harvests.
DEEPENING FOOD CRISIS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA, ESPECIALLY IN ZIMBABWE AND ZAMBIA
The food crisis in southern Africa resulting from two consecutive poor harvests is worsening due to dwindling food stocks and slow imports, including food aid. The situation could deteriorate into a large-scale famine if international assistance continues to be slow and inadequate.
In Zimbabwe, the food crisis is worsening. Severe shortages of basic foods including maize, milk, bread and sugar are reported in rural and urban areas, with bakeries closing due to lack of wheat. Increasing cases of malnutrition are reported from different locations. About half of the population, or 6.7 million people, are in need of emergency food assistance until next March, mostly in rural areas. Despite considerable effort made by both humanitarian organisations and the Government to import maize, the actual level of imports remains well below requirements.
The overall economic crisis in the country, with inflation rates projected to reach 155 percent by the end of the year, coupled with continuous depreciation of the national currency, is further reducing access to basic food for the majority of the population. Following severe shortages of fuel in October, the Government authorized imports of fuel by the private sector in early November.
There is urgent need to increase and expedite maize imports to avert famine in Zimbabwe.
In Zambia, the food situation of 2.9 million people, or 25 percent of the population, is of grave concern following two consecutive poor harvests. The food situation is particularly serious for vulnerable people in remote areas who have exhausted their food stocks at a time when prices of maize have increased sharply from the already high levels of last year. WFP projects a shortage of 100 000 tonnes of maize in the pipeline from November to March, the critical hunger period, and it is using recent cash contributions to purchase maize.
In Malawi, food distributions during October were double the level of September, providing relief to some 2.3 million people. Against WFP food aid appeal of 171 000 tonnes of cereals for Malawi in the Southern Africa Regional Emergency Operation, the level of pledges by late October were adequate and 83 000 tonnes had already arrived in the country. Commercial imports of maize have also been adequate and most of the 225 000 tonnes requirement estimated by an FAO/WFP Mission in April-May, has been covered. However, despite the improvement in the overall food supply, there are serious food access problems. Prices of maize remain at high levels, although by early October they were generally below their levels at the same time last year. Large numbers of people in rural areas still lack purchasing power to buy food in the market.
In Namibia, 345 000 people of the country's population of 1.8 million are in need of emergency food assistance as a result of a prolonged dry spell that sharply reduced the 2002 cereal production in the main producing northern regions. The worst affected region is Caprivi in the north-east. The Government has allocated US$ 14 million for the provision of emergency food assistance and has recently awarded tenders to transport companies to move relief food across the country.
In Madagascar, despite an overall satisfactory 2002 cereal harvest, the food supply situation is tight for a large number of vulnerable people due to the lingering effects of the political crisis in the first half of the year which seriously disrupted economic activities. Increases in petrol prices and transport costs resulted in sharp increases in basic food prices in urban areas and, at the same time, depressed producer prices in isolated rural areas. Overall, it is estimated that 150 000 people lost their jobs as a result of the crisis.
Serious food difficulties are also being experienced in 13 districts of the south, where the harvest was reduced by dry weather for the second consecutive year and in parts of the eastern province of Toamasina where crops and irrigation infrastructure were destroyed following Cyclone Kesiny in May.
A WFP Emergency Operation has recently been jointly approved with FAO to provide 18 000 tonnes of food assistance until next March for 394 250 vulnerable people affected by the socio-economic crisis and natural disasters.
In Angola, the food situation of a large number of displaced people gives cause for serious concern. The number of people in need of emergency food aid has been raised to 1.9 million from the 1.42 million estimated by the FAO/WFP Mission in May 2002. Recent reports indicate that while malnutrition rates have declined with improved access to the needy population, they remain at high levels. Most of the areas to which the populations are returning have no basic health services. Despite the gradually improving accessibility to the provinces, poor road conditions, broken bridges and landmines continue to hamper expansion of relief assistance, as well as internal trade.
Elsewhere in the sub-region, improved food aid distribution has provided relief to large numbers of people affected by a poor harvest in Lesotho and Swaziland. In Mozambique, heavy rains in October have hampered access to vulnerable groups in remote areas, particularly in Inhambane and Tete provinces.
A FOOD CRISIS LOOMS IN THE HORN OF AFRICA
The food situation in the Horn of Africa is cause for serious concern, following drought conditions that have sharply reduced the 2002 cereal harvests. The situation is particularly serious in Ethiopia and Eritrea where large cereal imports, are needed to stave off mass starvation. Generous donor response has averted starvation so far, but the food shortages are expected to continue well into 2003.
In Eritrea, more than one-third of the population faces severe food shortages due to a prolonged drought that seriously affected agricultural and livestock production. A recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission found that the failure of the short "azmera" rains (March to June) and the inadequate long "kiremti" rains (June to September) resulted in the lowest level of cereal production since the country's independence in 1993. Pastoralists have also been seriously affected with livestock numbers in some subregions reduced by up to 20 percent from their 2001 levels. Furthermore, humanitarian assistance to more than 60 000 people displaced by the recent war with neighbouring Ethiopia and about 50 000 Eritrean returnees from Sudan has placed a huge strain on the country's resources. The UN, in conjunction with the Government of Eritrea, has recently appealed to the international community for US$ 163.4 million in food and non-food assistance
In Ethiopia, poor secondary season "belg" rains and a late start and early cessation of the main "meher" season rains have created an alarming food situation. Large numbers of livestock have died and unusual migrations in search of water and pasture are reported in several parts of the country. In response the Government has recently appealed to the international community for food assistance for more than 11 million people until the end of 2002. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just returned from the country and a report on the outcome of the 2002 "Meher" production and an estimate of food assistance requirements in 2003 will be issued shortly.
In Kenya, the current maize harvest in major producing provinces has improved the overall food supply situation. The decline in food prices is especially beneficial to households in marginal agricultural areas previously affected by drought. However, early estimates of the long rains maize crop indicate an output of about 1.89 million tonnes, down by 19 percent compared to 2.32 million tonnes in 2001. While rainfall was favourable in several previously drought-affected pastoral areas, food insecurity persists in the districts of Mandera, Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit, West Pokot and Baringo.
In Somalia, good rains during the second half of October, which were particularly abundant in major growing areas, encouraged land preparation and early sowing of the 2002/03 secondary "deyr" season crops. The good main "gu" season cereal harvest in southern Somalia has improved the overall food supply situation. However, serious food supply difficulties remain in parts due to successive years of drought and insecurity. In northwestern Somalia (Somaliland), despite some recent rainfall the food situation is severe in Sool, Sanag and Nugal regions where the poor "gu" rains affected crops and livestock production. Despite new export opportunities in chilled meat to some countries in the Near East, the continuing ban by the same on imports of live animals on account of Rift Valley Fever has reduced foreign exchange earnings and affected the livelihoods of a large number of pastoralists.
In Sudan, a recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to the southern regions found a deterioration in the food supply situation compared to last year and estimated a larger deficit in cereal production. Late onset of rains and new population displacement following the recent escalation of the longrunning conflict, have severely affected agricultural production. In central and northern Sudan, harvesting of the 2002 main season cereal crops has just started. Reports indicate poor crop prospects with food shortages already being experienced in several areas. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just returned from the country and a report is to be issued shortly.
In Tanzania, the overall food situation remains satisfactory with increased on-farm stocks and market supplies. However, current wholesale prices for maize in major maize producing regions (including Rukwa, Mbeya, and Iringa in the Southern Highlands, and Dodoma in Central Tanzania) were higher this month than the average of the previous five years. Also, on certain markets such as Kilimanjaro and Tanga (northern Tanzania), wholesale prices of maize have started to rise earlier than usual.
In Uganda, a late onset of the secondary season rains coupled with an escalation of the conflict in the north has seriously affected the food supply situation in parts. Crop failure in the north-eastern region of Karamoja due to long dry spells has aggravated the food difficulties. The intensification of conflict and insecurity in the north has displaced a large number people, adding to the existing large IDP population. Nearly 750 000 people are currently being assisted in several parts of the country.
FOOD INSECURITY IN BURUNDI AND DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO SET TO DETERIORATE DUE TO UNFAVOURABLE CROP PROSPECTS
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the humanitarian situation remains serious due to the persistent civil war. The intensification of military activities in South-Kivu province, particularly around the border town of Uvira in October has resulted in renewed population displacement, as people flee from fighting. At the same time, it has seriously curtailed humanitarian access to the victims, and insufficient WFP food stocks have led to reduced distributions. The nutritional situation of the internally displaced population is extremely serious. Recent assessments indicate that between 10 to 30 percent of the population in eastern areas of the country are suffering from acute malnutrition.
The food and nutritional situation is also severe in urban areas, particularly in the capital Kinshasa and surrounding areas, where a survey undertaken in poor neighbourhoods last August found that the average daily intake of calories was about half of the minimum recommended amount. Food assistance is being provided by humanitarian agencies but it remains below the requirements. Alarming rates of malnutrition are also reported in parts of Katanga region where grain production this year was sharply reduced by drought.
Despite some violent incidents, some 2 000 Rwandan militiamen and their families were repatriated in early November, under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC).
In Burundi, the security situation continues to deteriorate. Cease-fire negotiations in Tanzania between the Government and rebels in late October ended without an agreement. The escalation of violence in central and eastern provinces, including Gitega, Bujumbura Rural, Bubanza and Ruyigi, is causing fresh waves of population displacements internally and to neighbouring countries, mainly Tanzania. A recent assessment carried out by WFP in five communes of Gitega and Rutana provinces indicates that over 14 000 households in Gitega and 16 670 households in Rutana have been seriously affected by insecurity and urgently need food assistance. In addition, food assistance is needed for the growing number of Congolese refugees fleeing from armed conflict in DRC. UN together with other resident international agencies are currently reviewing estimates of the population requiring assistance. There is concern that current food aid stocks may not be sufficient to cover the increasing needs.
The outlook for the 2003 first season foodcrops, to be harvested towards the end of the year, is poor reflecting dry weather in September and first two dekads of October, which resulted in reductions in the area planted to beans and maize. Although the final result will depend on the rains in the remaining weeks of the growing season, the number of people in need of food assistance is likely to increase as production is anticipated to be reduced in several areas.
In Rwanda, despite a satisfactory overall food supply situation following a good 2002 B season harvest, recent vulnerability assessment undertaken locally by WFP and FEWS NET in chronically food deficit highaltitudes areas of Kibuye, Gisenyi, Gikongoro and Ruhengeri provinces, and in some districts of Butare province, where last season's harvest was poor, found that vulnerable populations are experiencing serious food difficulties. The assessment estimated that some 274 000 people are in need of food assistance until the next harvest at the end of the year, as their food reserves and coping mechanisms are becoming exhausted.
The early outlook for the 2003 first season crops, to be harvested towards the end of the year, is poor reflecting a late start of the rainy season. The output is likely to decline due to reduced and delayed plantings.
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