Magazine article UN Chronicle

FAO Warns of African Food Shortages

Magazine article UN Chronicle

FAO Warns of African Food Shortages

Article excerpt

Fifteen African countries faced exceptional food shortages. Several Sahelian countries were experiencing food supply problems following poor harvests in late 1990, FAO reported. Drought and civil strife in a number of nations also caused serious situations.

The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), acting on what it predicted would be a serious shortfall in food production due to drought and a worsening of existing widespread poverty in rural areas, endorsed on 24 January the second phase of its Special Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa. The first phase, which raised some $300 million for 26 projects in 20 of Africa's poorest countries, was initiated in 1986 following two years of devastating drought.

Screwworm eradication

Another threat to Africa's food supply, particularly in North Africa, is the "New World" screwworm fly, a parasitic insect which feeds on the living flesh of warm-blooded animals. Representatives from 48 donor countries and international organizations on 12 February pledged some $15 million at the second Pledging Conference on Screwworm Eradication in North Africa, sponsored by IFAD and FAO.

The funds will support the IFAD-initiated and funded pilot project, co-financed by the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme and FAO, in releasing sterile insects in the North African environment as a means of breaking the life cycle of the screwworm fly.

The programme operates out of the Rome-based Screwworm Emergency Centre for North Africa, set up in June 1990 at FAO Headquarters. At the first Pledging Conference in July 1990, $31 million was pledged and Libya, the most seriously affected country, later pledged $27 million.

Africa's economy:

Marginal improvement

in 1990

Under-Secretary-General Adebayo Adedeji, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in January stated that economic restructuring and perseverance with policy reforms and adjustment efforts had led to only marginal improvement in Africa's economy in 1990.

He reported that per capita growth rates had remained negative, "as population pressure continued unabated while the growing scourge of inflation and unemployment, and the dehumanizing shortage of the most basic of essentials and necessities of life persisted".

Special relief programmes and "far-reaching measures" were needed, especially in the areas of commodities, debt and resource flows.

The General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole in September will review and appraise the Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development (1986-1990), adopted at the Assembly's special session in May 1986. …

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