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Two Million Face Serious Food Shortages In West Africa - 2003-03-14

Two million people are facing serious food shortages in West Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization says emergency funds are needed to deal with drought and poor harvests in Cape Verde, the Gambia, Mali and Mauritania.

Manuel Gavela is with the FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning Service. From Rome, he told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that the situation is even worse than expected. He said Mauritania is the hardest hit and is suffering more than any other year he can remember.

Also, in Mali, the FAO says the influx of refugees from Ivory Coast “risks worsening an economic situation where already 73 percent of the population live on less than a dollar a day.”

Mr. Gavela said the response to appeals by aid agencies has been very slow and small, although it improved slightly in response to a second appeal. He said short-term emergency rehabilitation projects now underway are subject to rainfall pattern this year. The projects will include food, seeds, tools and fertilizer. The FAO is also “planning to provide technical assistance on irrigation to address longer-term food needs.”

Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview.