FEWS NET has released a new outlook report for West Africa/Sahel. The report states that crisis-level food insecurity is expected to continue in a number of areas in the region, based on current market prices, trade patterns, labor conditions, and social conditions. Chronic malnutrition is expected to rise above 15 percent.

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FEWS NET has released its Food Price Watch for January 2012. The report details the food security situation throughout Africa, where prices in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Somalia have declined. Kenyan maize prices remain extremely high, as do prices in West Africa.

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Malawi's Ministry of Industry and Trade announced Wednesday the suspension of all exportation of maize and maize products, effective immediately. The government of Malawi has also nullified all licenses enabling grain traders to export the commodity. The move follows an estimate by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee that 10 out of 28 districts in the country are at risk of maize shortage between December 2011 and February 2012.

With the price of basic food items on the rise, global policymakers are again faced with the need to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations. Women and young children tend to be most negatively impacted by sharp increases in the price of food. However, while extensive research has been conducted on the causes and consequences of the 2007-08 food price crisis, little of that research has focused specifically on the impact of the crisis on women, and whether the impact differs for women compared to men.

FEWS NET has released a food security alert for West Africa to establish a context for regional agricultural production and food security prospects for the 2011/12 consumption year. The report's key messages include:

In the most likely scenario, crop production in the region will be less than last year’s bumper harvest (59 million tons) but near the 2005/06-2009/10 average (~50 million tons).

The impact of the unequal distribution of agricultural production is not yet clear. However, FEWS NET’s analysis suggests that food access will remain near average at the regional level.

The HarvestChoice AgMarketFinder Tool is a collaborative development innovation from IFPRI, Esri, and SpatialDev.

A Commentary by Maximo Torero

Thailand’s rice exporters are warning that the country’s 2012 rice exports could drop by as much as 30-40 percent as the result of a proposed government policy that would guarantee fixed prices for both plain white rice and jasmine rice. The Pheu Thai Party, which was elected into power in July, has promised farmers fixed prices of 15,000 baht ($US 500) per ton for plain white rice and 20,000 baht (US$ 667) per ton for jasmine rice.

According to FEWS NET, the prevalence of malnutrition and the rate of crude mortality have surpassed famine thresholds in the Bay Region of southern Somalia. A combination of poor crop production and deteriorating purchasing power has pushed poor households in this region into massive food deficits. Due to this rapidly deteriorating situation, the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and FEWS NET have now classified this region as IPC Phase 5 Famine.

After two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the region's worst drought in 60 years. Drought conditions have led to widespread crop failure and livestock deaths, as well as increasing food prices. Somalia now faces famine conditions in the southern part of the country.

Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Keep up to date on the latest reports from FAO GIEWS on the ongoing food security crisis in the Horn of Africa. This page will be regularly updated with new information and resources released by GIEWS.

Drought-related Food Insecurity: A Focus on the Horn of Africa
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Famine Thresholds Surpassed in Somalia

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