28 African Countries in Need of External Food Aid
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Latest GIEWS External Food Assistance Report

According to the March 2017 edition of the GIEWS report on external food assistance needs, 28 countries in Africa are in need of food aid. The underlying factors driving the need for assistance vary and include lack of food availability, widespread lack of food access, and severe localized problems impacting food security. The GIEWS report is updated four times per year.

 Several countries are currently facing “exceptional shortfalls in aggregate food production/supplies”, including Central African Republic, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In CAR, ongoing conflict and internal displacement have combined with three consecutive years of reduced harvests to drive about two million people – 40 percent of the country’s population  – into IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 4 (Emergency) food insecurity. Malawi saw reduced harvests and rising food prices in 2016; as a result, as many as 6.7 million people are in need of food aid. While Malawi’s 2017 production prospects are generally favorable, an ongoing armyworm infestation and localized flooding could reduce output in some areas of the country. Forty-four percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population currently faces food insecurity as a result of drought conditions in 2016 that hampered production. As in Malawi, armyworm infestation could threaten Zimbabwe’s favorable 2017 harvest forecasts.

Twelve African countries face food insecurity due to a widespread lack of food access: Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Swaziland. In Ethiopia, lingering effects of dry weather in 2016 have reduced the livelihoods of livestock producers in the country’s pastoral areas; around 200,000 people are severely food-insecure. In Mozambique, higher food prices and tightened cereal supplies have driven almost 2 million people into food insecurity; in addition, recent flooding in some areas of the country could hamper 2017 cereal production. Nigeria faces a combination of conditions, including ongoing conflict and internal displacement, steep depreciation of the Nigerian Naira, and widespread economic downturn. These factors have led to acute food insecurity for as many as 8.1 million people to famine conditions for around 55,000 people. Famine has also been declared in parts of South Sudan, where conflict has driven over 4.9 million people into severe food insecurity.

Finally, thirteen African countries are experiencing areas of severe localized food insecurity: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. In Burkina Faso, refugees from neighboring Mali are placing additional stress on food supplies; around 153,000 people in Burkina Faso are estimated to be in need of food assistance. Drought in Kenya impacted crop and livestock production in late 2016, mostly in the eastern, southeastern, and coastal areas. As many as 2.7 million Kenyans face severe food insecurity. In Mali, around 37,000 people are internally displaced, mostly residing in Timbuktu; this instability has led to an estimated 177,000 people falling into IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) food insecurity. Below-average crop production in Uganda for two consecutive years has resulted in 1.6 million people needing food aid.

Latest GIEWS External Food Assistance Report

According to the March 2017 edition of the GIEWS report on external food assistance needs, 28 countries in Africa are in need of food aid. The underlying factors driving the need for assistance vary and include lack of food availability, widespread lack of food access, and severe localized problems impacting food security. The GIEWS report is updated four times per year.

 Several countries are currently facing “exceptional shortfalls in aggregate food production/supplies”, including Central African Republic, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In CAR, ongoing conflict and internal displacement have combined with three consecutive years of reduced harvests to drive about two million people – 40 percent of the country’s population  – into IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 4 (Emergency) food insecurity. Malawi saw reduced harvests and rising food prices in 2016; as a result, as many as 6.7 million people are in need of food aid. While Malawi’s 2017 production prospects are generally favorable, an ongoing armyworm infestation and localized flooding could reduce output in some areas of the country. Forty-four percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population currently faces food insecurity as a result of drought conditions in 2016 that hampered production. As in Malawi, armyworm infestation could threaten Zimbabwe’s favorable 2017 harvest forecasts.

Twelve African countries face food insecurity due to a widespread lack of food access: Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Swaziland. In Ethiopia, lingering effects of dry weather in 2016 have reduced the livelihoods of livestock producers in the country’s pastoral areas; around 200,000 people are severely food-insecure. In Mozambique, higher food prices and tightened cereal supplies have driven almost 2 million people into food insecurity; in addition, recent flooding in some areas of the country could hamper 2017 cereal production. Nigeria faces a combination of conditions, including ongoing conflict and internal displacement, steep depreciation of the Nigerian Naira, and widespread economic downturn. These factors have led to acute food insecurity for as many as 8.1 million people to famine conditions for around 55,000 people. Famine has also been declared in parts of South Sudan, where conflict has driven over 4.9 million people into severe food insecurity.

Finally, thirteen African countries are experiencing areas of severe localized food insecurity: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. In Burkina Faso, refugees from neighboring Mali are placing additional stress on food supplies; around 153,000 people in Burkina Faso are estimated to be in need of food assistance. Drought in Kenya impacted crop and livestock production in late 2016, mostly in the eastern, southeastern, and coastal areas. As many as 2.7 million Kenyans face severe food insecurity. In Mali, around 37,000 people are internally displaced, mostly residing in Timbuktu; this instability has led to an estimated 177,000 people falling into IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) food insecurity. Below-average crop production in Uganda for two consecutive years has resulted in 1.6 million people needing food aid.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID