Nearly 12 million people living in southern African are in need of emergency food aid, despite a bumper harvest in South Africa, a U.N. food agency said Tuesday. In an update on the region, the Food and Agriculture Organization drew particular attention to Malawi and Zimbabwe, home to most of those in need. Food access in Zimbabwe has been limited by a lack of grain and soaring inflation, as well as fuel and transport problems, the Rome-based agency said in its report.
Only half the 50,000 tons of maize seed needed in Zimbabwe was available locally, and fertilizer had become more scarce, it said. In Malawi, food insecurity is increasing as maize prices continue to rise, and deliveries of food aid have been small despite significant pledges by international donors, the report said. South Africa had registered a record maize crop of 12.4 million tons, with an estimated export surplus of around 4.7 million tons, it said.
However, at around 12 million, the estimate of people in need of emergency food aid has not dropped since the agency's last report on the region, published in September.
The agency said harvests in East Africa were better than last year and were expected to improve further, though millions were still in need in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
The situation in West Africa's Sahel region also has improved, the organization said, though the crisis in countries including Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania in 2004-2005 had led to losses of animals and high levels of debt, reports the AP. I.L.