Southern Africa needs cereal aid

The report entitled “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” said the shortages were in spite of significant improvement in the 2006 main crops compared to last year. It cited the cumulative impact of HIV/Aids, high unemployment and low purchasing power as the main reasons for the crisis.

In Zimbabwe, about 17 percent of the total rural population will not be able to meet their minimum cereal needs during the 2006/07 season, according to the report.

Despite economic growth and increased oil revenues in Angola, some 800 000 vulnerable people were estimated to require about 58 000 tons of cereal assistance.

In the Great Lakes region, the continuing civil strife in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has left large numbers of people in need of food assistance. Food aid was also needed in Burundi following the reduced 2006 harvest.

FAO’s forecast for world cereal production in 2006 stood at about two million tons, almost eight million tons down since the previous report in July and 1.6 percent less than the 2005 level.

“The main concern is the declining stocks and whether supplies will be adequate to meet demand without world prices surging to even higher levels,” the report said.

FAO said elsewhere in Africa, the conflict-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan in Eastern Africa remained the most pressing humanitarian problem where “the already precarious food supply situation may worsen if deteriorating security disrupts the main harvest due to start in the coming weeks.”

While the situation in Darfur remains the most critical, elsewhere in Eastern Africa ‘ despite improved prospects for the 2006/07 crops in some areas ‘ floods, erratic rains and conflict-related displacement have negatively affected the food situation, FAO added.

“Most of the region’s pastoral areas have yet to recover from the successive poor rains that severely affected livestock and resulted in acute food shortages and migration of thousands of people in search of water and food,” the global agricultural body said.

In Somalia, a severe food crisis was expected to persist throughout the country for the rest of 2006, affecting at least 1.8 million people.

In spite of a satisfactory food supply situation, serious localised food insecurity, due mostly to access problems, was reported in several West African countries, including Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Emergency food assistance continued to be needed in Chad, C’te d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ‘ due to large numbers of internally displaced people and refugees.

The majority of the population of the Central African Republic was facing food insecurity following disruption in production and marketing activities as a result of civil strife.

In total, 40 countries worldwide are facing food emergencies and require external assistance. ‘ I-Net Bridge.

October 2006
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