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Africa: FAO Report (excerpts)
Africa: FAO Report (excerpts)
Date distributed (ymd): 990106
Document reposted by APIC
Issue Areas: +economy/development+
This posting contains excerpts from the December 1998 Africa Report by
the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The full report is available
on the FAO web site (
The report notes improvement in the food situation as compared
to the previous year, but also highlights significant food crises in a
number of countries due primarily to civil strife.
FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.3,
As 1998 draws to a close, sub-Saharan Africa's food supply situation
and outlook are much better than at the same time last year, reflecting
substantial increases in food production in several parts, particularly
in western Africa where above average to record harvests are anticipated
in several Sahelian countries, and in eastern Africa where the year's outturn
is satisfactory in several countries. As a result, the sub-region's cereal
import requirements are anticipated to be lower than last year. However,
food supply difficulties persist in several countries, particularly in
Somalia where a food crisis is developing following a succession of poor
harvests. Food supply difficulties also persist in countries currently
or previously affected by civil strife, including Guinea Bissau, Liberia,
and Sierra Leone in western Africa, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic
Republic of Congo in the Great Lakes region, and Angola in southern Africa.
SOMALIA'S FOOD SITUATION GIVES CAUSE FOR SERIOUS CONCERN
A major food crisis is developing in Somalia, following five consecutive
reduced harvests caused by weather adversities and prolonged civil strife.
The 1997/98 secondary "Deyr" cereal crop was devastated by the
worst floods in decades, while the main 1998 "Gu" season crop
was sharply reduced by drought and pest infestations. Moreover, a one-year
ban of livestock imports from Somalia by Saudi Arabia, a traditionally
important market, has adversely affected incomes and food security of large
numbers of pastoralists and other livestock producers.
Cereal prices are on the increase reflecting the short supplies while
prices of livestock continue to fall. As a result of the economic and market
disruption by the civil conflict, coupled with a succession of poor crops,
traditional coping mechanisms in times of crisis are virtually exhausted.
Malnutrition cases are reported to be high and increasing. Large scale
population movements in search of food and work have started. ...
FAMINE CONDITIONS EASE IN SOUTHERN SUDAN BUT FOOD DIFFICULTIES
The severe famine situation in southern Sudan, which caused a large
number of deaths in the Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, has eased in recent
months with improved food aid distribution since August and the beginning
of the new harvest.
A recent FAO Crop Assessment Mission to the 10 states of southern Sudan
estimated the 1998 cereal harvest at 538 000 tonnes, substantially higher
than the drought-reduced harvest of 1997, which particularly affected the
traditional farming sector. The increase mainly reflects abundant rains
from mid-July onwards throughout the season. However, the harvest is reduced
for large numbers of households in areas where military activity during
the growing season disrupted agricultural activities.
While this year's production could cover southern Sudan's food requirements,
the breakdown of infrastructure and trade routes due to the prolonged civil
strife and persistent insecurity will prevent surpluses in some states
from reaching the five deficit states. Protracted food assistance will
therefore be necessary for the farming population affected by a reduced
harvest in 1998 and for large numbers of displaced people.
HARVEST PROSPECTS ARE GENERALLY FAVOURABLE ELSEWHERE IN EASTERN
While food difficulties persist in parts, the overall food outlook in
eastern Africa is more favourable than at the same time last year.
In Eritrea, the tight food supply situation resulting from two consecutive
reduced cereal and pulse harvests has eased with the arrival of the new
harvest. A very good 1998 crop output is anticipated, reflecting abundant
and well distributed rains during the growing season. However, despite
the overall improvement in the food supply position, food difficulties
are being experienced by some 109 000 displaced people affected by the
conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia. Food assistance is being provided
to these affected people.
In Ethiopia, the 1998 main "Meher" cereal and pulse production
is forecast to increase substantially over the 1997 reduced level. Abundant
and well distributed rains, increased use of fertilizers and other agricultural
inputs, and a season relatively free of pests and diseases boosted yields
this year. ...
As export possibilities to neighbouring countries are very limited due
to good harvests and, in the case of Eritrea closed borders, the Mission
strongly recommends that donors undertake local purchases as much as possible
for their food aid programmes in order to support the market and minimize
the adverse effects of low prices on next year's production.
However, despite the forecast favourable food position of the country,
WFP are forecasting about 2 million people requiring food aid support in
In Kenya, the 1998 main ("long rains") season maize crop,
being harvested in the important Rift Valley growing area, is anticipated
to recover from the reduced level of last year. ...
In Sudan, (except for the south) a record 1998 main season cereal crop,
mainly sorghum and millet, is in prospect. Abundant rains during the growing
season generally boosted yields and adequate availability of agricultural
inputs in the mechanized sector led to timely field operations. However,
excessive rains in the central and northern parts resulted in floods, which
caused population displacements, infrastructure damage and serious crop
losses. Food and non-food assistance are being provided in the affected
In anticipation of the good harvest and reflecting large carry-over
stocks, prices of sorghum have declined markedly since September to particularly
low levels. ...
In Tanzania, food production in 1998 has been estimated to be one-third
above the reduced level of 1997 and above average. An exportable surplus,
mainly of rice, is available in marketing year 1998/99 (June/May). ...
In Uganda, the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum continue to face
food difficulties due to persistent insurgency which has displaced a large
section of the local population. Although there has been some improvement
in the security situation recently, food assistance continues to be provided
to about 400 000 persons. Food aid is also being provided to some 126 000
people in the north-eastern areas affected by a succession of poor harvests.
Elsewhere in the country, the food supply situation is satisfactory following
the good 1998 first season harvest. Prices of maize and beans have declined
in recent months.
IMPROVED FOOD SITUATION IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION BUT FOOD OUTLOOK
BLEAK IN EASTERN DRC
In Rwanda, the overall food situation has improved following a good
1998 B season harvest. However, the persistent insecurity in the north-western
prefectures continues to displace large and increasing numbers of the local
population. The food and nutritional situation of these IDPs is reported
to be precarious. Recent estimates indicate that 300 000 persons are displaced
in Ruhengeri, 250 000 in Gisenyi and 100 000 in Gikongoro. Food aid provided
by WFP in these areas has doubled in the past six months.
In Burundi, the food supply situation, affected by a succession of poor
crops and the embargo imposed by neighbouring countries, has eased with
improved food production in 1998 and a revival of economic activities.
However, it remains tight for the people still living in displaced persons
camps and for those affected by a deteriorating security situation, manifested
in the recent killing of more than 100 people in a series of violent incidents.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil strife has been occurring
since the beginning of August, particularly in the eastern provinces of
North and South Kivu, but also extending to Orientale, Maniema and Shaba
provinces. The A season has started in these areas but insecurity is disrupting
farming activities. Severe shortages of food and medical supplies are reported.
Cholera remains a major concern, especially in the Shabunda area, where
the cholera mortality rate is reported by some NGOs to be quite high. Moreover,
during the last B season, many farming households were unable to take full
advantage of the favourable weather conditions largely due to a shortage
of inputs. Large-scale population movements have been reported, both within
DRC and to neighbouring countries. Goma is presently host to thousands
of displaced persons, mainly from the Masisi and Walikale areas. Authorities
in Goma have appealed for assistance for some 31 750 people, most of whom
have lost their homes. In addition, there are over 11 000 Burundian refugees
in South Kivu, mainly in the Uvira region, who are reported to be in poor
health, with high malnutrition rates. The situation is particularly worrying
in Kindu in Maniema Province, as all ground communication links have been
The food supply situation is also deteriorating in Shaba Province, where
flooding earlier this year destroyed up to 70 percent of the foodcrops.
Basic foodstuffs are expensive and increasingly scarce in the local markets.
In addition, displaced people from Kalemie, Nyunzu and Nyemba areas have
taken refuge in Lubumbashi, the provincial capital. Between 20 000 and
40 000 displaced people are also reported around Kabalo, Nyunzu, Nyemba,
Manono and Ankoro. In Orientale Province, tens of thousands of displaced
and vulnerable people have moved to Kisangani, where basic consumer goods
have become very scarce and costly, as the city's supply routes have been
virtually cut off since mid-August.
A BUMPER HARVEST IS IN PROSPECT IN WESTERN AFRICA BUT FOOD DIFFICULTIES
ARE ANTICIPATED IN PARTS
Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, a bumper crop is
anticipated in the Sahel, with record harvests in the main producing countries
of the region. Rains started generally on time, except in Senegal where
they were late in the centre and north. Replantings were necessary only
in localized areas as no prolonged dry spells were experienced, except
in Cape Verde in October. Precipitation was widespread, regular and abundant
during the entire months of August and September over most producing areas.
Substantial flooding occurred in south-eastern Senegal, western, central
and eastern Niger and southern Chad. The pest situation was mostly calm.
The abundant rains also improved pasture conditions and replenished water
The 1998 aggregate cereal production in the nine CILSS countries has
been estimated by joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in October/November
at a record of 10.6 million tonnes, which is 31 percent higher than in
1997 and about 17 percent above the average of the last five years. Record
crops are anticipated in Chad, Mali and Niger. Above-average output is
anticipated in The Gambia, while output will be about average in Burkina
Faso and Senegal, but below average in Cape Verde and Mauritania.
Cereal production in Guinea-Bissau is expected to be well below average
due to civil strife which hampered agricultural activities. The conflict
erupted at the start of the growing season, seriously disrupting land preparation,
planting and the distribution of inputs to farmers. ...
In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects
are generally favourable in Benin, Nigeria and Togo but less favourable
in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent
on international food assistance, despite some improvement in food production.
In Liberia, despite improved security and favourable weather conditions,
the 1998 cereal output is only expected to be close to last year's, mainly
due to a severe seed shortage. Food supply in the urban markets is stable
but prices remain very high. Sporadic fighting still occurs and water and
electricity supplies are not yet restored in most parts of Monrovia. Food
assistance is being provided almost throughout the entire country and an
improvement in the nutritional status of the population is reported. The
country will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance in 1999, partly
because of the returning refugees from neighbouring countries.
In Sierra Leone, the food supply situation has improved in Freetown
and in the centre of the country where relatively peaceful conditions now
prevail. In other parts of the country, however, insecurity and fighting
persist, causing population displacements and disrupting agricultural activities.
Food prices remain very high despite the incoming harvest, although this
is forecast at below last year's level following a reduction in planted
area. As a result of many years of civil strife, the country will continue
to rely heavily on humanitarian assistance in 1999. A UN Consolidated Inter-Agency
Appeal for humanitarian assistance is currently under preparation.
SOUTHERN AFRICA'S FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION GENERALLY STABLE SO FAR
BUT LIKELY TO TIGHTEN IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES
In southern Africa, the 1998/99 growing season has started under more
favourable conditions than in 1997/98. Normal to above normal rains in
September and October in cereal producing areas of several countries have
provided adequate moisture for land preparation and early planting of the
coarse grain crops to be harvested from April 1999. Despite a reduced 1998
aggregate cereal output, the sub-region's food supply situation remains
generally stable. Large maize carryover stocks in South Africa provide
an exportable surplus, while a number of countries face substantial cereal
deficits that will have to be met by imports. They include Lesotho, Namibia
and Zambia, where cereal production in 1997/98 declined significantly.
The sub-region's 1998 wheat crop, now being harvested, is estimated to
be below the 1997 level of 2.2 million tonnes and also below average. The
fall is mainly due to a sharp decline in the area sown, particularly in
South Africa, in response to low international and domestic wheat prices.
AREAS OF PRIORITY ACTION
Against this background, the attention of the international community
is drawn to the following areas requiring assistance.
- First, Somalia needs urgent food assistance if a serious food crisis
is to be averted.
- Second, everything possible should be done to resolve the conflict
in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to resume humanitarian assistance
to the long-suffering population in the eastern part of the country.
- Third, food assistance continues to be needed in several parts, including
especially Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Rwanda, Burundi
and southern Sudan.
- Fourth, in those countries where substantial cereal surpluses at the
national level are anticipated alongside localized food deficits, donors
are urged to undertake local purchases to the extent possible for their
food aid programmes within the countries and for triangular transactions.
- Fifth, sustained donor assistance is needed for the rehabilitation
of the agricultural sector in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other countries
where prospects for lasting peace have become a reality following devastation
caused by prolonged civil strife.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa
Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen
the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S.
role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.