Drought, Locusts, War Hit Food Production In Sub-Saharan Africa – UN Report
Drought, invasions by crop-devouring locusts and civil conflicts have seriously affected food security in sub-Saharan
Africa, with 23 countries facing emergencies, aid deliveries way below the previous period and needs increasing in the
coming year, according to the latest United Nations report on the region released today.
Despite normal or above-average production in some countries, food aid needs amounted to 3.1 million tons in the
just-ending 2003-2004 period, of which 2.8 million tons have been delivered, according to the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) Africa Report. This compares with 4 million tons delivered in 2002-03.
In 2004-05 food aid needs are expected to increase in view of production shortfalls in several countries, but the actual
aid requirements will only be known once the ongoing harvests in eastern and western Africa are completed.
In West Africa, assessment missions by FAO and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) have found that aggregate cereal
production for 2004 will remain within the five-year average of 11.6 million tons, but droughts and locust invasions
have caused severe localized damage to crops and pastures in many countries.
In Mauritania, the most-affected country, cereal production is set to drop 44 per cent compared to last year. Cape Verde
has also been badly affected by poor rainfall and locusts and will be facing a larger-than-usual food deficit in
2004-05. To the south, an escalation of violence in Côte d’Ivoire has displaced thousands of people into Liberia since
early October, making them dependent on food aid.
Several countries in East Africa have had below-average crop production due to erratic seasonal rains and civil
conflict, exacerbating the already precarious food situation in the region. In Sudan, more than 4 million people are
estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, mainly due to the conflict in Darfur, which has drastically
disrupted agricultural production.
A “well-below average” maize crop in Kenya, coupled with poor rains in pastoral areas, has resulted in a precarious food
situation, with nearly 2.7 million people needing humanitarian aid.
In the Central Africa Republic, a strong agricultural recovery is being constrained by persistent insecurity, while the
volatile situation in the Republic of Congo continues to hamper humanitarian assistance there. Increased tensions
between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have raised the spectre of renewed armed conflict and
subsequent impacts on food production.
In southern Africa weather conditions for the main 2004-05 agricultural season, which has just begun, are forecast to be
normal but the region’s food security situation remains precarious. In Zimbabwe high prices and shortages of maize grain
are causing serious food security concerns and widespread shortages of key agricultural inputs such as seeds,
fertilizers and fuel are expected to continue. Some 4.8 million people – about 40 per cent of Zimbabwe’s population –
are in need of emergency food assistance.
In a related development FAO announced today that Morocco will send 22 farming experts and technicians to Djibouti in
the Horn of Africa to work with local experts, as part of the agency’s South-South Cooperation Programme, a global
initiative that aims to strengthen cooperation among developing countries at different stages of development to improve
agricultural productivity and ensure access to food for all.
The $1.2 million project will be financed by the Islamic Development Bank, the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Djibouti