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WFP Emergency Report No. 07 of 1998: East Africa

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Situation Report
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Posted
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WFP EMERGENCY REPORT
Issued weekly by the United Nations World Food Programme
Report No. 07 of 1998 Date: 13 February 1998

This report includes: A) Sierra Leone B) Afghanistan C) East Africa: Regional, Kenya and Somalia D) Iraq E) El Nino - Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala).

From Manuel Aranda da Silva, Chief, Technical Support Service. Available on the Internet on the WFP Home Page at http://www.wfp.org/ or by electronic mail from Deborah.Hicks@wfp.org (fax 39 6 6513 2837). For information on resources, donors are requested to contact Francesco.Strippoli@wfp.org or Aleesa.Blum@wfp.org at WFP Rome, telephone 39 6 6513 2504 or 6513 2004. New address of WFP is Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68, Parco dei Medici, Rome 00148.

PART I - HIGHLIGHTS
(Details below in Part II)

C. EAST AFRICA: UPDATE ON TRANSPORT CORRIDORS, REGIONAL IMPACT OF EL NINO, KENYA AND SOMALIA

1. Update on Great Lakes Transport Corridors
a) Delivery of food to beneficiaries throughout Great Lakes region still hindered by logistics problems along southern corridor from Dar es Salaam.

b) Majority of WFP cargo on northern corridor uses overland rail route to Uganda, with limited use of Kisumu-Port Bell rail ferry link.

c) Increased commercial food imports into Kenya are affecting capacity of Mombasa-Kampala rail line.

2. FAO Special Report on East Africa
a) FAO special report on impact of El Nino rains in East Africa issued 5 February.

3. Kenya
a) Further heavy rain experience from 10 February onwards, but rain is lighter than elsewhere in flood-affected areas of north-eastern Kenya. Renewed rains exacerbate conditions on Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

b) WFP air operations into flood-affected areas continue; air drops made to communities still stranded by floods in Wajir, Garissa and Tana River districts. Shortage of funds for air operations reduce deliveries in first week of February to only 61 percent of planned figure. Further scaling back will be necessary if additional funds not received.

c) Air bridge to 125,000 refugees in Dadaab refugee camp also affected by shortage of funds; rations may have to be reduced in March as a result.

4. Somalia
a) Meteorologists warn of further flooding during normal rainy season of March to June, due to possible above-average rainfall.

E. EL NINO - CENTRAL AMERICA

1. Update
a) Details are given below for present relief activities and the crop situation in countries covered under the WFP El Nino emergency operation for Central America, EMOP 5949: Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala. Information is based on WFP field reports and FAO Special Report of 9 February 1998

b) Total funds required for WFP operation are USD 9.4 million. Confirmed pledges of USD 3.36 million has been received from the US and USD 97,700 from Italy.

PART II - DETAILS

C. EAST AFRICA: UPDATE ON TRANSPORT CORRIDORS, REGIONAL IMPACT OF EL NINO, KENYA AND SOMALIA

1. UPDATE ON GREAT LAKES TRANSPORT CORRIDORS

1.1 Delivery of food to WFP beneficiaries throughout the Great Lakes region remains constrained because of continued problems of logistics capacity along the southern corridor from Dar es Salaam. Food movement via Mpulungu in Zambia is stalled, due to a downed bridge north of Kasama and congestion in Mpulungu port, resulting from recent heavy rains and increased commercial traffic. Repair works on the bridge are expected to be completed within one week but meanwhile some many trucks are stranded at the harbour.

1.2 The road/rail link from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma is performing at the target rate of 6,000 tons per month, with this capacity shared between the Tanzanian drought, the Tanzanian refugee and the Uvira returnee programmes, as well as a part of the Burundi programme. WFP also continues the despatch of food to the Tanzanian drought project from Mombasa via Kisumu to Mwanza.

1.3 As commercial operators are also beginning to use the Kisumu port link to northern Tanzania, congestion problems are beginning to appear on the Mombasa-Kisumu rail line, meaning that the majority of WFP's cargo on the northern corridor is moving on the overland rail route to Uganda, with a limited use of the Kisumu-Port Bell rail ferry link.

1.4 Increased commercial food imports into Kenya, due to food production disruptions over the last few months, are now also affecting the Mombasa-Kampala rail line. WFP is holding discussions with both Kenya railways and the Uganda Railways Corporation, to ensure that planned throughput levels will be maintained, as the northern corridor is presently supplying all of Uganda's and Rwanda's relief food needs, as well as two-thirds of Burundi's relief food requirements.

2. FAO SPECIAL REPORT ON EAST AFRICA

2.1 On 5 February, FAO issued a special report on East Africa, describing the effects of the heavy rains, attributed to the El Nino, which have caused extensive crop damage in the region. The report indicates that the resulting floods have seriously affected food production and food distribution and caused extensive damage to crops in the field and in stores. Large livestock losses were also reported. The severe damage inflicted on the sub-region's transport infrastructure is seriously disrupting the movement of goods.

2.2 In Tanzania, apart from the disruption of rail and road systems, the heavy rains and flooding resulted in localized crop losses and damage of the 1997/998 Vuli crop, grown from October to February. In central and southern parts of the country, where cereal crops of the main season are at developing stage, crops losses in some low-lying areas may be significant, but the abundant precipitation has been generally beneficial.

2.3 In Uganda, the heavy rains, mainly in eastern parts, resulted in floods and mudslides which caused loss of life, damage to housing and infrastructure and localized crop losses. Prices of maize and beans, which by December 1997 had doubled in a year, are anticipated to decline with the arrival of the new crop. Nevertheless, the food situation remains difficult for the large number of displaced people in northern parts affected by persistent civil conflict.

3. KENYA

3.1 After a relatively dry spell of two weeks, heavy rain fell again in much of Kenya from 10 February onwards. Fortunately only light showers were experienced in most of the flood affected areas of north-eastern Kenya. The most serious affect of the renewed rains has been to exacerbate conditions on the vital Mombasa-Nairobi highway. Temporary bridges have been built to replace those which collapsed in January, but road edges and hard shoulders remain eroded, and destroyed tarmac surfacing remains unrepaired.

3.2 WFP's air operations into flood affected areas have continued with air drops in communities still stranded by floods in Wajir, Garissa and Tana River districts. Between 10 December and 8 February, 1,423 tons of WFP food and 543 tons of other relief supplies had been flown into flood affected communities by Hercules C-130 aircraft. However, in the first week of February deliveries were only 61 percent of what had been planned due to the shortage of funds to cover air operating costs. If further contributions are not received in the near future WFP may have to further scale back its air operations, including the services to partner UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.

3.3 Similar problems exist with the air bridge which WFP has run since mid-December to get food and other supplies to the 125,000 refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp. Based on the current funding situation, it may not be possible to distribute more than 50 percent of the normal ration to refugees during the early March distribution.

3.4 WFP will continue to take advantage of any drier weather in the weeks ahead to restore road deliveries of food to people being assisted under the Emergency Operation and in Dadaab. In the case of Dadaab, WFP is working with UNHCR, the Ministry of Public Works and interested donors to initiate emergency road repairs before the onset of the long rains which are due in eastern Kenya at the beginning of April.

4. SOMALIA

4.1 Meteorologists have warned of the possibility of above-average rainfall in the normal rainy season (March to June) which may result in further flooding. WFP fears that 200,000 people once again will be affected by flooding over the next few months as a result. Thousands of people are still homeless following the flooding which began last October.

E. EL NINO - REGIONAL EMOP FOR DROUGHT/FLOOD RELIEF IN CENTRAL AMERICA

1. UPDATE

1.1 Background information: An emergency operation for USD 9.4 million in emergency food aid for poor farmers and their families in five countries of Central America where the El Nino meteorological phenomenon has caused drought and floods was approved by WFP and FAO on 1 December 1997. An appeal was made by WFP to provide a total of 19,566 metric tons of emergency food rations to 323,000 people living in remote and rugged areas of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.

1.2 Resourcing situation: USD 170,000 was advanced to the Central America operation from the WFP Immediate Response Account (IRA) in November, and an additional USD 2 million in December, for the purchase and delivery of approximately 5,000 MT of food commodities. Since then, confirmed donations have been received from the US for USD 3,357,900 (5,200 mt of rice, 220 mt CSB, 300 mt beans, and 140 mt vegetable oil), and from Italy for USD 97,700 (296 mt maize).

1.3 The following is the current situation by country, based on information from WFP field offices and from the FAO Special Report on the impact of El Nino on crop production in Latin America, dated 9 February 1998. In all the countries listed below, WFP relief operations started in early January, using food stocks from existing development projects.

a) Nicaragua. Marked rainfall deficit during the planting season in May and June 1997 affected the northern Pacific municipalities. Irregular and ill-distributed rains in December negatively affected also the 1997/98 second season ("postrera") crops, currently being harvested and delayed planting of the third season ("apante") crop. A reduced output of maize, the main cereal, is expected, mostly as a consequence of the severe drought damage to the first season crop. It is estimated that 12,700 families, 82,000 children and 3,000 pregnant/nursing mothers are in need of food assistance. Distribution of food aid, which started early January 1998 with food commodities borrowed from WFP development projects, has so far benefited 82,000 children and 2,000 pregnant women. Food-for-work activities are being implemented, such as soil conservation, feeder road rehabilitation, and creation of seedling nurseries. A total of 150,000 family rations were distributed to 3,500 families. Non-food items (agricultural tools and fertiliser) were also distributed.

b) Honduras. The lack of rains during the main cropping season has caused losses mainly in the south and western areas of the country. A total of 29 municipalities were affected, with losses in 53,788 planted hectares. The second crop of maize, sorghum and beans currently being harvested has also been affected due to irregular and ill-distributed rains. Approximately 5,000 families have been initially identified as those most affected, at nutritional risk and in need of temporary food aid. Distribution of emergency food started early in January.

c) Panama. Drought conditions affected food crops in some provinces. Subsistence farmers in these areas have sustained total crop failure. Rice production has been most affected. Approximately 16,000 families are considered to be the most at risk. The situation at present continues to be serious due to unusually high temperatures and dry conditions, particularly the Pacific coastal provinces. Emergency distributions started in early January under food-for-work activities (rehabilitation of agricultural land, basic community infrastructure).

d) El Salvador. Severe damage has been sustained from the lack of rain in some 30 municipalities of the eastern region. Basic crops (maize, beans and rice) have been lost. About 4,500 families are most affected in the eastern departments of La Union, Morazan and San Miguel. Normal weather in the last few weeks has been too late to reverse the damage caused by earlier drought to the recently harvested 1997/98 second season maize crop. The bean crop, by contrast, was not seriously affected and normal growing conditions are reported for sorghum. Limited relief activities have been implemented under food for work.

e) Guatemala. The main affected areas are in the eastern region of the country. Total crop losses are estimated at 145,000 tons. About 10,000 families are estimated to be at particular nutritional risk. Harvesting of the 1997/98 second season cereal crops has been nearly completed under generally dry weather. A reduced output of maize, the main cereal, is anticipated due to severe drought-induced losses to first season crops and to intensive rains and flood damage to the plantings of the second season crops. The food situation is tight in rural areas. Limited relief activities have been developed with borrowed food from development project stocks.

(End WFP Emergency Report No. 07 of 1998 - February 13, 1998)

Supplement to WFP Emergency Report no. 07 of 13 Feb 98: El Nino Contingency Planning S. Africa, no.9

WFP Regional Contingency Planning for El Nino
Information Update from WFP Regional Office for Southern Africa, no. 9
Maputo, Mozambique
12 February 1998

This is the ninth in a series of information updates provided on a regular basis. It is based on reports received from WFP offices in countries covered by the Regional Office: Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Any queries may be addressed to the WFP Country Offices or to the WFP Regional Office in Maputo. Information received from Swaziland is also included in this report.

I. El Nino Overview:

El Nino continues to be in the news worldwide, blamed for flash floods in California and widespread severe flooding in eastern Africa. Technically, the El Nino phenomenon is still active. There has not been an appreciable decline in the Pacific Ocean temperature off the coast of Peru, although the warm pool is smaller. The Southern Oscillation Index, a commonly-used indicator of El Nino's impact on world weather patterns, was further from normal in January than in December.

The impact of El Nino on the region covered by this report, however, has not been significant, and the widespread drought expected due to the experience of past El Nino years has not occurred. Instead, it is floods that are responsible for current relief efforts, although these are on a much smaller scale than in countries further north, and in fact than in southern Africa during the same period last year.

Satellite-derived images of vegetation indicate that there are virtually no areas of drought in the region, a picture supported by the results of the mid-season assessments conducted in the field in each country. The satellite images are in stark contrast to those from the same months of the 1991-2 El Nino-related drought season, when drought had already seriously affected vegetation throughout the region. It is now far enough into the season to presume that even were a hot and dry spell to occur (which is unlikely), the impact would not be as severe as 1991/2 and 1994/5.

II. Regional Contingency Planning - progress to date:

The countries in the region are all engaged in some stage of a mid-season assessment of food prospects and local response capacity. Where results are available, they are included below under Country Reports. Further country information, as well as a regional summary, will be available following a meeting of WFP Country Directors from the region in Johannesburg on February 23-24. One observation that has emerged in several countries is the fact that some farmers who did respond to drought warnings by planting in low-lying areas have lost crops to high water levels; other farmers did not plant at all for fear of drought and consequently production levels will suffer in spite of favorable weather.

III. Country Reports:

Lesotho

Official rainfall data for January is not yet available; previous rainfall was erratic and led to late planting. The National Early Warning Unit, in its quarterly Food Security Bulletin issued on January 29, states that crop production prospects in mountain districts have fallen to about 40% of normal. The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment 1997/98 has now been distributed among Government officials, UN agencies, donor representatives and NGOs for comment; reports are still pending for the field assessments by the Disaster Management Agency and WFP (see January 28 Information Update).

Madagascar

During a meeting to discuss the mid-season assessments (outlined in the January 28 Information Update), the European Union provided provisional scenarios for food assistance needs deriving from the extensive locust infestation. Reported estimates are that 1,000 metric tonnes of maize might be required beginning in March and a further 10,000 metric tonnes in September. UNDP mentioned donor interest in financing activities to support the collection and dissemination of climate data.

Malawi

The midseason assessment is being carried out with the full participation of the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance, as well as WFP, FAO, FEWS and several NGOs. The field trips are completed and the report is being drafted. Preliminary estimates are that crop production will be 19% above last year's (i.e. 1,800,000 metric tonnes), which is also the government's latest estimate, while agricultural products including mandioca, sweet potatoes, banana and tobacco are likely to show an increase of about 13%.

Mozambique

Floods continue to affect several provinces, and WFP's attention has turned to assessing the situation of people and infrastructure in those areas in order to provide needed food assistance, in part through joint missions to affected regions with the Department of Disaster Prevention (DPCCN). The teams participating in the government-led mid-season assessment of food prospects and local response capacity have, along with WFP sub-offices and outposts, provided detailed information from the field.

The current situation is not serious enough to warrant a new WFP emergency operation, as ongoing relief efforts in the affected provinces of Sofala, Tete and Zambezia have enough resources to cover problems there. Existing resources were channelled into free food distribution to 2,300 people along the Buzi River in Sofala also affected by last year's floods. In Niassa Province, several bridges have washed out, isolating communities. In Manica Province, there is some flooding along the Zambeze River to the north, but crops and pasture lands in the province are generally in good shape. In Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo Provinces, there are no major problems due to either drought or floods.

The effects of the landslide in Milange, Zambezia (reported in the January 28 Information Update) will be re-assessed by a joint DPCCN/Social Action Ministry/WFP mission this week, given that the situation appears much less serious than originally reported. No accommodation center was deemed necessary and the food situation appears satisfactory.

WFP has stressed that its aim is to move away from providing free food for consecutive years of disasters, and toward Food for Work projects in support of disaster mitigation and improved access to affected areas. It is working closely with the DPCCN on strengthening disaster management structures. WFP has encouraged the re-activation of the Seeds Working Group and timely preparation of seeds projects.

Swaziland

The overall crop and livestock condition in the country is good; January rains helped them to recover from below-normal rainfall in December. According to a government Food Security Bulletin released on January 26, maize planting country-wide is about 90% complete, an improvement over former years attributed to farmers' response to calls for early planting.

At a meeting held at the National Disaster Task Force on February 4, reports from some of the traditional drought-stricken areas indicated that crops are more advanced than in previous years due to early planting and the choice of fast-maturing and drought-tolerant crops. In other traditionally advantaged areas, the crop stage and condition is relatively poor, so monitoring of the situation will continue. Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and UNDP Swaziland will go on an assessment mission next week. At this stage, the anticipated food security situation for the next marketing year has now improved, and carry-over stocks of maize will more than cover demand.

Zambia

The mid-term assessment exercises conducted jointly by Government (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and the Meteorological Department), WFP, FAO/FHANIS, FEWS/USAID, Africare and CARE reported that the maize yield is likely to be reduced in all districts due to erratic rainfall distribution (especially during the November-December planting season) and a lack of hybrid seeds and other inputs. In addition, the area planted to maize is less than last year. Livestock is doing well, with very few disease outbreaks and deaths reported; adequate pasture is available. The mission noted bartering of live animals for maize in most parts of the Valley districts, an indication of low household grain reserves. A full report is being prepared.

Heavy rainfall in January caused floods and crop loss, although in February rains subsided generally. WFP Zambia has requested funds to feed 4,200 people affected by floods in Luapula province. Assistance in the form of a cornmeal supplement for vulnerable families would last for 45 days to bridge a food-gap period prior to the commencement of the fishing season in March. Assessments of flood damage in other provinces are also being conducted.

Zimbabwe

A rapid assessment undertaken by WFP and FEWS during the last week of January confirmed that there will be a significant decrease in crop area planted in the country, in part because late arrival of rains meant that many farmers planted late, while other farmers did not plant at all, reportedly heeding warnings that an El Nino-associated drought would occur. The overall reduction in area planted is estimated at 25-30%. By January 30, the southern part of the country (a traditional grain deficit area) had received below normal rainfall; in other areas, a wet spell has resulted in a recovery of the maize crop. The veld and pasture lands are in good condition, and water supplies for both human and animal consumption are quite adequate. The assessment noted that intra-rural grain trade is becoming more common and that maize prices were significantly higher in drier areas.

A more extensive official Zimbabwe Crop Assessment will be carried out from February 9-21. The team will include representatives from the National Early Warning Unit, AGRITEX (Ministry of Agriculture Technical and Extension Services), Ministry of Health National Nutrition Office, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, SADC Regional Early Warning Unit, WFP and FEWS/Zimbabwe. For the first time on an official assessment, information on livestock condition and fruit and vegetable production will be included along with the standard information on crop yields.

Following food riots in late January, which temporarily interrupted maize trading, the state-owned Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was instructed to reduce the price of maize by about 14%. The GMB released part of the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) onto the market, and there is some speculation that it could run short on grain, pushing up prices again. The price of (white) maize traded on the commodities exchange ZIMACE is down to about $153 (from about $167 in early January).

South Africa: A January 28 Reuters report stated that "South African food company shares have [soared] as fears recede of an El Nino drought that could have slashed harvest in half." The same article cited the South African Weather Bureau reporting that El Nino was expected to start waning from February and thus would not impact on next season's harvests.

END

Andrea Stoutland
Regional El Nino Information Officer
WFP Maputo office