Thirty-five countries now face serious food shortages, including two dozen in Africa, according to a report released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
The May issue of “Foodcrops and Shortages,” a publication of the Global Information and Early Warning System, blames the situation largely on civil conflict and adverse weather, particularly drought. It also notes that in many of these countries, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major contributing factor.
In western Sudan, civil conflict which has displaced over 1 million people is leading to a grave humanitarian crisis, the agency warns.
Desert locusts remain a serious threat to crops in northern and western Africa, where control operations are hampered by a lack of resources, according to the report.
In southern Africa, delayed, inadequate and erratic rains caused flood damage and left many people in need of emergency food aid to survive. Zimbabwe could face acute food shortages as early estimates of 2004 food production indicate a potential deficit of up to 1 million tonnes of cereals.
The report also warns that a serious humanitarian crisis continues in North Korea because of chronic food shortages. Donations have still left 600,000 core beneficiaries without their full rations in April, and new pledges are urgently needed to cover needs over the next six months.
According to the report, Sri Lanka has been seriously affected by drought with rice production falling 18 per cent in 2004. Thousands of families are in need of food assistance there.
The FAO reports that food assistance deliveries in Haiti had been returning to normal following improved security, until torrential rains and severe flooding struck that country as well as the Dominican Republic.
Food assistance continues to be delivered in several Central American countries to rural families affected by a depressed coffee sector, the study found.