Thirty-four countries, including 27 from Africa, are currently in need of external food assistance, according to a new report by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The report titled, “Crop Prospects and Food situation,” released last week in Rome, was published by the Trade and Markets Division of FAO under the Global Information and Early Warning System.
The shortage is due to civil conflicts continuing to severely affect the food security of many countries, while adverse weather in some cases linked to El Niño (drought, flooding) curbed production in others, constraining food access and pushing consumer prices up, the report says.
It highlights that drought associated with El Niño has sharply reduced 2016 crop production prospects in Southern Africa, while expectations for the harvest in Morocco and Algeria have been lowered due to ongoing dry conditions.
The figure has grown from 33 last December, after the addition of Swaziland. Rwanda is not among the 34 countries listed in the report.
Other countries on the list include Zimbabwe, Niger, Liberia, Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Nepal.
In several countries already in need of external food assistance, conditions generally worsened in the past three months, mainly in the southern Africa sub-region, where food prices have reached record highs.
Across Africa, adverse weather reduced 2015 cereal output.
Also in areas of Central America and the Caribbean, ongoing dry conditions linked to El Niño may affect sowings of seasonal crops for the third consecutive year.
The report adds that persistent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Central African Republic have impacted on the agricultural sector, further worsening the humanitarian crisis in those countries.
The report also warned that last year’s reduced production would affect the food security situation in North Korea, where most households were already estimated to have poor food consumption.
It also forecasts that global wheat production in 2016 points to a small decrease, with lower outputs expected in Europe and the US.