Despite improvements, millions still face hunger in sub-Saharan Africa – FAO

Despite improvements, millions still face hunger in sub-Saharan Africa – FAO

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Despite an improvement in the overall food situation in sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people continue to face hunger and starvation, according to new findings by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Despite an improvement in the overall food situation in sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people continue to face hunger and starvation, according to new findings by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to the latest issue of FAO's Africa Report, the situation in Somalia is particularly perilous, with some 800,000 people experiencing food shortages and 300,000 facing starvation after the worst harvest season in seven years. In addition to severe drought, an overflow of rivers in southern Somalia has caused massive displacements. The problem is complicated by lost income of $120 million owing to a ban on livestock imports from eastern Africa due to Rift Valley fever, and the loss of millions in remittances from Somalis abroad since the recent closure of the Al-Barakaat money transfer company.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the continuing conflict has left some 2.5 million internally displaced persons largely inaccessible to humanitarian aid because of security concerns. In the province of Katanga, 11 children die daily from malnutrition, reflecting the serious situation throughout the country. The long-running complex emergencies in the DRC and Angola, where some 1.34 million internally displaced people need food aid, require greater attention, according to the report. Food supplies also remain tight in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, due to the impact of recent civil conflicts.

By contrast, the food supply situation has improved considerably in Burundi and Rwanda, as well as in Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Niger, Chad, Mali and Senegal, the report states. In general, eastern Africa also showed improvement owing to favourable weather and good harvests in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Nevertheless, pastoral populations in Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea continue to depend on food aid because of prolonged drought, as do more than 50,000 displaced persons in Eritrea. In Cape Verde, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau, the food situation has worsened since last year.

In Zimbabwe, dry weather or excessive rains have left 705,000 people in rural areas at risk of food shortages, while 250,000 people in urban areas grapple with a sharp increase in food prices, and some 30,000 farm workers have lost their jobs. In Malawi and Zambia, large orders of maize imports have been announced. Despite a good harvest, food aid will be needed for 100,000 people affected by dry weather in Mozambique, while poor cereal production is expected to cause difficulties for many households in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.