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Latest FAO GIEWS Country Briefs and Special Alerts

FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) has released several new country briefs and special reports for Africa south of the Sahara.

According to the updated country brief for Kenya, recent rainfall has improved conditions for both crops and livestock in many areas of the country, although it has resulted in widespread flooding and damage in some areas. Weather forecasts for the remainder of the March-May rainy season predict average to above-average precipitation in most places, with the exception of the northeastern part of the country, where rains are expected to be below-normal or normal levels. As of April, maize prices in the country had fallen by 30-50 percent from their April 2017 levels, when drought conditions had severely impacted maize production. In early 2018 as well, livestock prices increased as animal body conditions recovered. This combination of price trends has improved pastoralists’ terms of trade. While the brief also reports lowered 2017 cereal output as a result of poor weather conditions and the potential for flooding in some areas as above-average precipitation continues in 2018, overall food security in the country has improved slightly. The number of people in need of humanitarian aid dropped from 3.4 million in October 2017 to 2.35 million in January 2018. However, IPC Phase 3 (Crisis)-level food insecurity remains in some areas, particularly those with large displaced and refugee populations.

In Senegal, harvesting of millet and maize was finished in November 2017, while rice harvesting was completed in January 2018. Estimates predict a bumper aggregate cereal crop of about 2.5 million tonnes, placing 2017 production at 18 percent above 2016 production and at 35 percent above the last five-year average. This above-average production has been driven by favorable weather conditions, as well as continued government support for the agricultural sector. As a result of these good harvests, cereal prices in the country have decreased or remained stable in 2018. Livestock conditions have begun deteriorating in response to reduced food stocks during the ongoing dry season; as a result, livestock prices have also fallen sharply by as much as 20-35 percent in various markets from the previous year. While areas of food insecurity remain due to reliance on traditional (rain-fed) agriculture and livestock production, Senegal’s overall food security is stable, GIEWS reports.

Dry weather in December 2017 and January 2018 in Zambia, combined with a smaller area planted, has led to a likely reduction in cereal yields. . In southern Zambia, GIEWS reports that the dry spell will intensify food insecurity; results from the annual Zambian Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s evaluation are expected to be released in June/July. Maize production for 2018 is forecast to be below average at 2.4 million tonnes; this represents a 34 percent decrease from 2017 levels.  Much of this decline will come from small- and medium-scale farmers; production from large-scale farmers is expected to decline by 50 percent in 2018, but these farmers represent only about 5 percent of Zambia’s total domestic maize production. Despite the reduced maize production, however, supplies for 2018-2019 are expected to be sufficient due to large national stocks and the 2017 record output. As a result of this good supply situation, maize prices remain below their 2017 levels, although they have risen in recent months.

A March report from Somalia finds that pastoralist populations have suffered severe loss of livestock due to ongoing drought conditions. In some areas, as much as 60 percent of herds have died. This will put continuing pressure on food security in the country, which is already at critical levels in central and northern pastoral areas. The livestock sector in Somalia accounts for 40 percent of national GDP and employs 65 percent of the population; as a result, this massive damage to livestock populations will have sweeping economic impacts as well. GIEWS reports that in 2017, household debts for pastoral households in the northern and central regions skyrocketed by 400 percent.

Photo credit:ILRI/Fiona Flintan