Published: Saturday 15 January 2000

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a recently-released report says that some 1.6 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are facing starvation due to drought and long-running civil conflict. In Somalia, the report says, "the effect of the drought was compounded by civil strife."

The 15 countries facing food emergencies of varying intensity are: Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethopia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The report says, dry spells and erratic rains have reduced cereal production in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethopia. In Sudan, despite good harvest prospects, two million people are still dependent on emergency food assistance. Meanwhile, Rwanda has seen an overall increase in food production last season but even with this there are about 900,000 refugees who need urgent assistance, while in some other areas food shortages continue.

According to FAO, in West Africa, the Sahel region, comprising a number of countries, has harvested bumper crops despite some serious localised flooding in The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. However, the situation is improving in Sierra Leone and especially in Liberia where a range of interventions in agriculture has led to a improvement in food production. These two countries, the report added will continue to rely heavily on international food assistance for several years to come.

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