The Tanzanian government is to assist neighbouring countries affected by a severe drought by allowing them to negotiate directly with its ministry of agriculture to procure some of its 1.7 million tonnes of surplus food at reduced rates. The move is intended to cut out informal cross-border trade with farmers and unscrupulous middlemen as well to curb rising instances of food smuggling out of Tanzania.

Tanzanian police estimate that each day over 400 tonnes of maize leave the country illegally through areas around Mara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro. The lack of food in the eastern African region is pushing up prices in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

The Horn of Africa is suffering the worst drought in more than half a century, caused by a near-complete lack of rain from April-June, normally known as the long rainy season.

The drought is affecting some ten million people in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Meanwhile the United Nations has declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia - Bakool and Lower Shabelle.