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Tanzania Faces Food Shortages

January 7, 1999

ARUSHA, Tanzania (AP) _ Tanzania faces widespread food shortages caused by El Nino-induced drought and needs international help to stave off a famine, the prime minister says.

The 300,000 residents of the central region of Dodoma are at risk of starvation in five months, Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye has told diplomats in the capital, Dar es Salaam.

Another 12 of the country’s 20 mainland regions are threatened with acute food shortfalls, Sumaye said in a speech to envoys Tuesday.

Abnormally dry weather, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon, has dried fields and killed crops across central and northeastern Tanzania. Shortages in the corn crop are expected to approach 600,000 tons, state-run radio reported Wednesday.

Sumaye said the government was doing everything it could to prevent a famine. The government has lifted tariffs on corn imports and plans to import 50,000 tons of emergency food.

The El Nino weather phenomenon is created when trade winds weaken, allowing a large mass of warm water in the western Pacific to pulse to the east along the equator toward South America.

The shift reverses normal weather patterns, resulting in drought in usually wet locales and flooding in dry areas.

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