ROME, ITALY — Thirty-four countries, including 27 in Africa, are currently in need of external assistance for food due to drought, flooding and civil conflicts, according to a new edition of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s (FAO) Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released on March 9.
The figure has grown from 33 last December, after the addition of Swaziland.
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 dry conditions.
Also in areas of Central America and the Caribbean, ongoing dry conditions linked to El Niño may affect sowings of the main season crops for the third consecutive year.
Moreover, persistent conflicts in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have taken a heavy toll on the agricultural sector, further worsening the humanitarian crisis in those countries.
In most cases, the impact of conflict extends into neighboring countries such as Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo that are hosting refugee populations.
In several countries already in need of external assistance for food, conditions generally worsened in the past three months, according to the report from FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), mainly in the Southern Africa sub-region, where food prices have reached record highs.
The report also warned that last year's reduced production would negatively impact the food security situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where "most households were already estimated to have borderline or poor food consumption."
Elsewhere, the outlook for the 2016 crops already in the ground, mostly winter grains in the northern hemisphere, is generally favorable. Early forecasts indicate large 2016 wheat crops in most countries of Asia.
Read the full report here.