Food Security Outlook Update

Above-average market supply from 2021 B crop production driving stable food prices

August 2021

August - September 2021

October 2021 - January 2022

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • In August and September, most areas in Burundi will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, driven by acceptable food access provided by food stocks from the above-average 2021 B Season production and market purchases. Food access on markets is above average due to stable food prices and income earned from above-average labor opportunities related to the extension of 2021 C Season cropped area, heavily promoted by the government. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in the Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone through January 2022, driven by a seasonal decrease of own crop production and below-average cross-border income access, resulting from the COVID-19 related closure of the Tanzania border to human movement.

  • Unexpected rainfall occurred in the second dekad of August, the typical dry period, is expected to result in above-average 2021 C Season production. However, likely La Niña conditions from October to December are expected to lead to localized below-average rainfall in southern and eastern parts of the country. This forecasted below-average rainfall will likely decrease 2022 A Season bean and maize production in localized areas of the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zone.

  • Bean prices decreased 10 to 20 percent between June and July. Above-average 2021 B Season bean production and favorable market supplies drove the decline. Maize prices have been stable over the same period, though above average and 2020 levels. Seasonal food price increases are expected beginning in September as food stocks decrease.

  • UNHCR facilitated the return of 169,065 returnees between September 2017 and July 2021. Around half returned after September 2020 and nearly 80 percent arrived from Tanzania and are primarily hosted in the Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone. Upon arrival, returnees receive three months of assistance. Thus, 20,000 returnees who arrived between June and August are still receiving food assistance, driving None! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes, as well as 51,069 refugees from DRC who still receive humanitarian food assistance. However, nearly 42,000 returnees who arrived between December 2020 and May 2021, have already exhausted their 90 days of assistance, and are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food outcomes in August. IDPs who didn’t receive food assistance and who do not have access to their normal livelihoods are also facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 

CURRENT SITUATION

The food security situation in August is characterized by decreasing 2021 B Season food stocks, weeding for 2021 C Season, and preparation for the 2022 A Season. A season contributes 35 percent of annual domestic crop production, and B and C season crop production contribute to 50 and 15 percent, respectively.

Food stocks from above-average 2021 B Season harvests will provide food supplies for most households through October, the start of the typical lean period. July 2021 bean prices decreased around 20 percent compared to June prices in supply areas (Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones) and remain 15 percent below July 2020 levels and around five percent below the five-year average. Bean prices in Gitega province, considered a national reference market for non-supply areas, remained stable between June and July and were 10 percent below average (Figure 1).

July maize prices were stable compared to June, but 10 and 18 percent above July 2020 levels and the five-year average. Increased maize prices are due to the exhaustion of community stocks following the ban on maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda to control the spread of mycotoxins. Prices of other commodities (cassava, sweet potatoes, and rice) slightly increased by around five percent compared to June and remain above last year and average prices.

Food access is especially improved for households in High Altitude and Congo Nile Ridge livelihood zones who cultivate green tea, 37 and 10 percent of the households, respectively, as the government increased green tea prices at the producer level from 250 to 280 BIF/kg in July, an increase of 12 percent. This policy is increasing incomes and, as a result, food access for households in the sector. Food access from markets remains negatively affected by restrictions related to COVID-19, namely border closures in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones. Daily and active COVID-19 cases have increased since the middle of July, with the arrival of the Delta variant. Active COVID-19 cases as of 25 August totaled 10,570, an increase of 126 percent compared to the end of June 2021. The World Food Program (WFP) provided 3 months of food assistance to 133,058 persons most affected by COVID-19 in northern Imbo Plains livelihood zone.

Atypical rainfall occurred in the 2nd dekad of August (Figure 2), likely improving crop production. Key informants indicate that 2021 C Season crop production will likely be 15 to 20 percent above average. In addition to favorable rainfall, the 2021 C Season benefitted from government subsidies on fertilizer and selected maize seeds. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture is offering interest-free credit and technical support to agricultural cooperatives. However, many poor and very poor households don’t own marshland, where C season crops are cultivated, but earn income through agricultural labor opportunities.

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario discussed in the June 2021 to January 2022 Food Security Outlook Report remain unchanged.

  • 2021 C Season crop production in November is expected to be 15 to 20 percent above average.   Favorable production forecasts are driven by unexpected rainfall in the second dekad of August and improved technical support to famers by the government, especially in extending cultivated areas by promoting irrigation systems. Crop harvests expected in November will mitigate the October to December lean period.
  • La Niña conditions forecasted in October to December 2021 by NMME, WMO, and C3S across most of the Horn of Africa is expected to lead to localized below-average rainfall in southern and eastern Burundi. This forecasted below-average rainfall will likely disturb the seeding and growing of beans and maize crops of 2022 A Season, driving below-average crop production in the Eastern Lowlands and the southern Imbo Plain livelihood zones, most exposed to these risks.
  • Since March, the number of reported incidents of violence against civilians has significantly increased, and it is likely to remain at currently elevated levels through the end of 2021. The border areas of Cibitoke, Bubanza, and Kibira Natural Reserve provinces have reported a doubling of incidents of violence against civilians and armed clashes during the first five months of 2021 compared to 2020, though a decrease was observed from June to August 2021. Although no substantial impacts on agricultural production and food access have been observed to date, access to income and food security is expected to deteriorate in localized areas affected by conflict. Despite clashes involving armed groups on the border, greater cooperation between Burundian government officials and heads of intelligence and security from the DRC, Rwanda, and Tanzania has resulted in a general de-escalation. Political efforts to improve diplomatic relations between Burundi and Rwanda are expected to lead to further security improvements in affected provinces, with important implications for the broader regional security environment.

PROJECTED OUTCOMES THROUGH JANUARY 2022

The October to January lean season is characterised by decreased food stocks from own crop production and increased food prices. With typical coping strategies, most areas will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through the period, and most food will be accessed through market purchases and from 2021 C Season crop production, which provides food needs for around three weeks between November and December.

However, as reported in the June Food Security Outlook, some poor households in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zone will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the projection period. Below-average production driven by below-average rainfall and lack of typical crop production from poor and very poor households who used to cultivate on rented land in Tanzania is driving food insecurity in the Eastern Lowlands. For the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone, crop production remains the main income source in the absence of cross-border opportunities. Poor households atypically sold 2021 Season B food stocks to pay back debts incurred to purchase food from January to May 2021, accelerating the exhaustion of 2021 Season B stocks. Those households will rely on market purchases to meet food needs, and prices are expected to remain above average throughout the outlook period. With humanitarian assistance expected to follow historical trends, returnees and refugees will likely experience None! (IPC Phase 1!) food security outcomes throughout the outlook period. Returnees who exhaust the three months of food assistance and IDPs who are not receiving humanitarian food assistance, are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes before they access to their own crop production and income sources.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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