- After a drought earlier this year, Guinea-Bissau has been hit by abundant rainfall and floods. While food production thus is disturbed, political and economic problems have led to lack of cash among Bissauans. Thousands are now threatened with famine.
Abundant rainfall recently has caused widespread inundations of rice fields countrywide. It was reported that 80 percent of Guinea-Bissau's peasant farmers had been "adversely affected by flooding and thousands of families are threatened with famine," according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
The flooding comes after a disastrous agricultural season, where much of the country was affected by drought. The otherwise moist country, where mangroves dominate the landscape, experienced salt intrusion from ocean water, further destroying crops.
According to a WFP report, the Bissauan Minister of Agriculture has said that the government was to appeal to the international community for food aid. Until now, there are only small-scale WFP programmes going on in Guinea-Bissau, not enough to respond to the food crisis that is about to come.
WFP this week had distributed 284 tons of food to some 30,809 beneficiaries in Guinea-Bissau. The UN agency further was supporting 200 community-based schools with a total of 26,143 beneficiaries.
- However, WFP is experiencing difficulties in the implementation of its school-feeding programme since public schools have not reopened yet for the academic year 2003/2004, the UN agency complains. The situation is illustrative of the poor state of art in Guinea-Bissau, where the public sector is close to total disintegration after years of misrule and political instability.
Guinea-Bissau currently faces a serious social and economic crisis and civil servants have not been paid for more than 10 months. This lack of cash among the country's working population again was contributing to the current food crisis. Civil servants now depend on aid from their relatives in the countryside, whereas they normally could have aided these relatives in times of food scarcity.
The new civilian-military government established since this year's military coup has promised to start paying salaries within few months. The government is also trying to stabilise the Bissauan economy through international financial support by cleaning up in the widespread corruption.
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