This paper is devoted to a new high-accuracy finite difference scheme for solving reaction-convection-diffusion problems with a small diffusivity £. With a novel treatment for the reaction term, we first derive a difference scheme of accuracy O(ɛ2h+ɛh2+h3) for the 1-D case. Using the alternating direction technique, we then extend the scheme to the 2-D case on a nine-point stencil. We apply the high-accuracy finite difference scheme to solve the 2-D steady incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in the stream function-vorticity formulation. Numerical examples are given to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed difference scheme. Comparisons made with some high-order compact difference schemes show that the newly proposed scheme can achieve good accuracy with a better stability.