Food distribution in Somali Region, Ethiopia.
Photo: ©FAO/IFAD/WFP/Michael Tewe

41 countries need external food assistance

Dry weather and protracted conflicts are causing food insecurity, FAO says, stating that more than forty countries are in need of external assistance for food, most of them in Africa.

Some 41 countries continue to be in need of external assistance for food, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in September 2019. FAO says that conflicts act as the primary cause of high levels of food insecurity and adverse weather conditions - particularly rainfall shortages in Africa - acutely affect food availability and access for millions of people.

The countries on the list, which include 31 in Africa, remained unchanged over the last six months. The 41 countries currently in need of external food assistance are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, cereal harvests promise to be strong in several countries of Latin America and Asia, while improved security conditions have helped boost crop production in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Conflicts drive hunger

About half of the 41 countries needing external assistance for food are home to civil unrest or full-fledged conflict, while others face severe resource strains due to large influxes of refugees from neighbouring countries experiencing unrest.

Conflict and civil insecurity are primary drivers of food insecurity in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and parts of Myanmar and Nigeria.
In Venezuela, hyperinflation has severely eroded local purchasing power, generating acute constraints on households' access to food, while cereal production is expected to decline due to a lack of agricultural inputs. 

East Africa suffer from scarcity of rains

Poor precipitation, including severe dryness in East Africa, is exacerbating the food insecurity situation in several countries in the region.

Overall cereal output in East Africa in 2019 is forecast to drop by 5.6 per cent on 2018, with the sharpest output contractions expected to be recorded in Kenya and the Sudan. Prices of maize and sorghum have risen sharply to high levels around the region. Food security has deteriorated most sharply in Kenya and Somalia.

To the west, hydro-meteorological stations in Mauritania registered large seasonal rainfall deficits by mid-August and remote-sensing analysis for grassland conditions in parts of the country indicated the lowest level of biomass production in the last 20 years. A similar situation is reported in northern Senegal.

Adverse weather conditions halved the 2019 cereal harvest in Zimbabwe, where the number of food-insecure people is expected to almost double in early 2020 compared to the same period the year before. Similar developments are expected in several neighbouring countries. 

Crop production in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is forecast to be smaller than usual, due to below-average rains and low water irrigation availabilities in the second trimester of 2019. Around 40 per cent of the population are estimated to be food insecure and in urgent need of food assistance according to the results from a joint FAO/WFP rapid food security assessment conducted last April.

FAO expects the 2019 aggregate cereal production for the 51 Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) to remain broadly unchanged at 473.5 million tonnes, a result emanating from growth in Asia offset by declines in Africa.

(FAO/ile)

More information:
FAO website: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1208508/icode/
Crop Prospects and Food Situation (FAO): http://www.fao.org/giews/reports/crop-prospects/en/