17 countries face food emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa: UN report

1 August 2001

Seventeen countries in sub-Saharan Africa are facing exceptional food emergencies caused by difficult weather conditions and persistent civil strife and insecurity, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a new report published today.

The report, "Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in sub-Saharan Africa," warns that the spectre of another drought is haunting several countries in the Horn of Africa. In the Sudan, the recent escalation of the conflict in the south has displaced a large number of people and aggravated the already precarious food situation due to drought. Serious food shortages are anticipated in Somalia.

"All possible efforts should be made to arrest the deteriorating food situation in the Sudan and Somalia," said Abdur Rashid, Chief of FAO's Global Information and Early Warning Service. "Zimbabwe's food outlook to the next harvest is bleak and calls for contingency plans for food assistance in the coming months."

In southern Africa, a combination of long dry spells, severe floods and disruption of farming activities in parts has resulted in significant production shortfalls in the sub-region, according to the report. In rural areas of Zimbabwe, the most affected are farmers who harvested a poor crop due to the dry spell in January and excessive rain in February and March, as well as those who have not yet recovered from the impact of last year's cyclone Eline, mainly in the southern parts.

In Swaziland and Lesotho, the report says, import requirements have increased sharply compared to last year due to large drops in 2001 cereal production. Also Zambia, Namibia and Botswana have suffered significant declines in coarse grain production. By contrast, this year's cereal production in Angola is estimated to be significantly above last year's. However, over 1.3 million internally displaced people need emergency food aid.

Food emergencies also persist in the Great Lakes region, where an estimated 2 million internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) face a very serious food and nutrition situation. In Burundi, increased insecurity has displaced large numbers of rural people, disrupting food production and marketing activities, while in Rwanda the security situation remains precarious in parts.

The 17 countries identified by FAO as facing food emergencies are Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.


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