Download the Report
The Season A harvest is expected to be 10 to 15 percent below average nationally and 25 to 30 percent below average in some semi-arid livelihood zones in the north and east, where rainfall was particularly poor. As a result, poor households in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands, eastern Dry Plateaus, and Buragane livelihood zones are likely to exhaust their food stocks as early as March. The below-average Season A crop production is also contributing to higher food prices, and this, coupled with below-average income from limited labor opportunities, will drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in these livelihood zones around April and May, prior to the availability of Season B harvest in June.
These livelihood zones, along with the eastern Arid Plateaus, are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from June to September, when the Season B harvest improves household food availability and access through seasonally lower market prices. During this time, very poor and poor households will also benefit from labor income from land preparation, weeding, and harvesting, which will seasonally improve household purchasing power. Despite these improvements, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely as the earlier impact of the below-average Season A harvest and prolonged high food prices have lowered poor households’ capacity to meet their basic food and non-food needs.
The delayed start of Season A has delayed the harvest season by around two months, creating an overlap where most farmland needed for Season B planting is still being used for Season A, and thereby reducing the amount of land available for planting Season B crops. In addition, the below-average Season A harvest means that households will have less access to seeds for Season B planting, given that around 30 percent of the seeds used for Season B are from Season A. Moreover, higher bean prices at the national level have reduced farmers’ financial resources to purchase seeds. Due to these combined effects, the planted area for Season B is expected to be around 20 percent lower than usual.
Maize and bean prices remain high in January 2023 at the national level, ranging from 60 to 170 percent above last year and 50 to 80 percent above the five-year average. Due to increased food prices, the cost of the standard food basket is 75 percent higher than last year, exacerbating the already lower food access for poor households in the Northern Lowlands, Buragane, and eastern lowland livelihood zones amid below-average Season A production.
As of mid-February, 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Burundi are receiving food assistance that equates to approximately 100 percent of their monthly basic food needs, with around 70 percent of the population receiving in-kind food and 30 percent receiving cash-based transfers (CBT). While refugees and asylum seekers receive monthly food assistance, returnees receive only a single, three-month distribution of food assistance. Around 15,000 returnees who arrived after the 2022 Season B harvest in June are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2), having exhausted their three months of assistance, but facing high prices amid limited income-earning opportunities.
Agricultural production: In February, households are typically engaged in harvesting Season A crops, which represent 35 percent of annual crop production, with the bean harvest taking place primarily in low-altitude areas and the maize harvest taking place in high-altitude zones. In addition, land preparation and seeding are in progress for the June-August Season B harvest, which represents roughly 50 percent of annual production and consists largely of bean production.
Season A rainfall was two months late, with only a few days of rainfall at national level from early September to November; overall, monthly rainfall anomalies on the national level amounted to around 50 percent below average (Figure 1). Rainfall deficits were most severe in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands, Eastern Dry Plateaus, and Buragane livelihood zones, drying out young beans and maize sprouts and delaying the planting of tubers (sweet potatoes, cassava, and potatoes). As a result, 2023 Season A crop production is estimated to be 10 to 15 percent lower than average across crops and 20 to 25 percent lower for beans and maize. However, the scale of impact to overall food and income among poor households is somewhat greater in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands, as cash crops and livestock are more prevalent among poor households in the eastern Dry Plateaus and Buragane livelihood zones, though cash crops and livestock were less affected by the poor performance of the rainy season.
The late start of rainfall and subsequently delayed Season A harvest has extended the lean season into February. While land preparation and planting for Season B typically occur in March, around 15 percent of planting areas will still be occupied by Season A crops through March. As a result, a portion of Season B crops will be planted late, delaying income-earning and risking that these crops will not reach maturity before the start of the dry season in June. The anticipated below-average Season A bean harvest, in addition to high bean prices, will contribute to lower household access to seeds, thus constraining Season B bean planting. Poor and very poor households typically use around 30 percent of the Season A harvest as seed for the Season B.
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Some middle and better-off households are benefiting from government support for agricultural production, including subsidies of up to 40 percent of the price of mineral fertilizers, promotion of fertilizer manufacturing, and engagement in a permanent zero-grazing policy for livestock to promote the extension of cropping areas. Around 3,000 agriculture cooperatives (SANGWE), consisting of around 75,000 farmers, are directly supervised by the technical structures of the government, as most of them are engaged in cultivating crops more resilient to climate shocks, such as maize, rice, cassava, and sweet potatoes. By implementing permanent livestock zero-grazing, owners of large agricultural areas (more than two hectares) in the highland livelihood zones are engaged in the intensification of potato cultivation, providing labor opportunities for poor and very poor households.
Economic conditions: The Burundian Franc (BIF) continues to depreciate, with the official exchange rate having depreciated around 10 percent annually and monthly inflation increasing from 25 to 30 percent (Figure 2). The parallel market has shown even more depreciation. The BIF has depreciated 10 percent against the US dollar in the past year, driven by declining foreign currency reserves. Reserves have declined over the past two years as increased costs of imports have widened the trade deficit. Critically, the parallel exchange rate is 76 percent above the official rate as of March 2023. This large gap between the official and parallel rates has contributed to high monthly inflation as consumers are exposed to volatile price swings. To narrow the gap between official and unofficial exchange rates, the Central Bank has indicated it may consider devaluating the currency in the coming months.
Source: Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies of Burundi (ISTESBU)
The government authorized the re-opening of foreign exchange bureaus at the end of 2022. Around five have opened, but the impact on economic indicators is yet to be observed. Thus, the inflation rate in Burundi reached 28 percent in December, whereas food inflation reached 41 percent in January. The depreciation of the local currency and the widening gap between the official and parallel BIF exchange rates is largely driven by rising demand for imports and prices for imported goods, while the key sectors of the economy are no longer bringing in sufficient currency returns.
The resumption of maize imports in late 2022 and food stocks from 2023 Season A harvests have stabilized the month-on-month trend in staple food prices. However, the prices of maize and beans remained atypically high in January, ranging from 60 to 170 percent above last year and 50 to 80 percent above the respective five-year averages across monitored markets. Local and regional production shortfalls, high global food prices, limited fuel supplies, and high transportation costs contributed to the elevated food prices. As a result, the cost of the standard food basket increased by 75 percent compared to last year (Figure 3), while the labor wage has remained stable and total income sources have decreased in localized areas. The Northern and Eastern Lowlands livelihood zones are the most affected by high food prices and the below-normal 2023 Season A harvest.
Following the re-opening of the borders after two years of closure in relation to COVID-19, cross-border trade and the movement of people are slowly resuming on the Tanzania and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sides, while borders with Rwanda remain affected by political tensions. Markets are dominated by local production, and high inflation and the weak exchange rate between the BIF and the currencies of neighboring countries are disincentivizing imports. Increasing insecurity in the east of DRC limits local crop production, leading to more exports to DRC, mostly of rice and maize. Despite administrative bans on crop harvest exports in provinces bordering Rwanda and Tanzania, households and traders continue unofficial exports of beans to Tanzania and Rwanda, which will likely lead to an early exhaustion of food stocks from the 2023 Season A harvest but is providing income from cross-border sales.
Income sources and food access: According to a WFP Food Security Monitoring System (WFP/FSMS) survey conducted across Burundi in August 2022, rural households reported that around half of their total is derived from staple crop production (their main source of income), while nearly 25 percent of income comes from casual labor and over 15 percent of their income from livestock-related activities (Figure 4). This demonstrates the importance of crop production, labor, and livestock as the main income sources in rural areas. It is expected, however, that the relative importance of these income sources varies by wealth group and fluctuates throughout the year, depending on the availability of the harvest.
Below-average 2023 Season A crop production has affected all wealth groups. Among middle and better-off households, income levels are lower than normal because they experienced a decline in the total crop harvest and subsequently earned less income from lower cash crop sales. Combined with the weather shocks of Season A and B, this has reduced their demand for agricultural labor, which has consequently impacted income-earning opportunities among poor and very poor households. The decline in demand is most significant for staple crops, while labor income from cash crop production (such as coffee, tea, and oil palm) has shown to be more resilient to climate hazards. However, only 25 to 30 percent of households produce cash crops in the Northern and Eastern Lowlands, compared to a national average of around 55 percent (Figure 5), resulting in relatively lower labor opportunities in these livelihood zones. Moreover, the unfavorable climate conditions in Tanzania are limiting cross-border agricultural labor opportunities for in the eastern lowland livelihood zone, while cross-border opportunities with Rwanda are inaccessible due to political tensions. Finally, poor and very poor households in Northern and Eastern Lowlands are selling more of their 2023 Season A harvests than usual to repay debts incurred to purchase food during the lean season and to cover expenses for agriculture inputs (seeds and fertilizers).
Source: Ministry of Agriculture
Humanitarian food assistance: According to publicly available distribution information through November 2022 and interim updates provided by WFP to FEWS NET on distributions between December and February, WFP typically distributes monthly food assistance to nearly 56,000 refugees through the hybrid modality of in-kind transfers and cash-based transfers (CBTs). Together these modalities provide a full ration, with in-kind transfers accounting for around 70 percent of beneficiaries kilocalorie needs and CBTs covering roughly 30 percent. In addition, WFP continues to assistance to all registered Burundian returnees upon arrival, averaging to around 3,000 returnees per month in late 2022/early 2023. This group receives wet rations/cooked meals at the transit camps during the first few days and a one-time, three-month food assistance package (mix of cash and in-kind) to help them re-integrate in their areas of origin. Additionally, about 40,000 IDPs are typically assisted with a 90-day ration (in-kind transfers or CBT modality). Finally, many populations considered by distributing agencies to be at risk of food insecurity, including pregnant and lactating mothers, receive a half-ration covering 90-days in the form of in-kind assistance or CBT during the lean season.
Based on WFP’s public reports, nearly 6,000 children aged 6 to 59 months and pregnant and lactating women received specialized nutritious foods for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition in November. Many primary and preschool children are also assisted through the school feeding program while school is in session, which reached nearly 530,000 children in November. However, food assistance operations are experiencing funding challenges and difficulties related to high food prices, especially for cereals and beans, and high international transportation costs (including tariff and non-tariff barriers introduced by the government). Together these factors occasionally cause pipeline breaks according to WFP, particularly for programs targeting IDPs, nutrition prevention and treatment, and school feeding. It is likely that some households in these programs have occasionally received reduced ration sizes or missed assistance altogether in late 2022 and early 2023.
Conflict and insecurity: Incidences of armed conflict have significantly declined since 2022. As part of an East African regional force that aims to end decades of unrest in the eastern DRC, Burundi contributed troops to DRC in August 2022. The Burundi National Defense Force (FDNB) deployed in the east of the DRC uses eastern Congo as a battleground in its fight against armed groups, which reduced the frequency of attacks conducted on Burundian soil. However, military activities in eastern DRC have resulted in the displacement of populations into Burundi. UNHCR reports a total of 88,265 refugees and asylum-seekers from DRC, with an average of 3,000 new arrivals monthly. The recent improvement in diplomatic relations with Rwanda has reduced border tensions.
Current food security outcomes: The 2023 Season A harvest in February is expected to be below average; however, production is only slightly below average in most of the west and central part of the country. In these areas, although food prices are above average, access to the harvest and normal levels of income are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.
In contrast, northern and eastern areas of the country have seen more notable crop losses and an associated decline in income-earning opportunities in Season A, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across the relevant livelihood zones. Moreover, some very poor and poor households within the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In these areas, lower cross-border income-earning opportunities are also contributing to atypically low household income. Food stocks from Season A are also going to the repayment of debts accrued to cover food needs during the lean period and to procure agricultural inputs for Season B, further contributing to their inability to meet all food and non-food needs.
Source: Ministry of Health
Based on nutrition data from the March 2022 SMART survey, acute malnutrition in Burundi was at Acceptable (Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) by weight for height z-score (WHZ) ≤5 percent) levels on the national level; however, prevalence ranges from Acceptable to Alert (GAM (WHZ) 5–9.9%) levels in some districts and provinces. However, while a more recent survey is not available, levels of acute malnutrition have likely increased since then. According to Ministry of Health reports, admissions of malnourished children is following seasonal trends but at elevated levels, with the admission of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) as of late 2022 increasing by 10 percent from last year (Figure 6), when GAM levels reached Alert (GAM WHZ 5-9.9 percent) levels of 6.1 percent on the national level, according to an IPC analysis.
Between February and September 2023, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Based on international and regional forecasts, the February to May 2023 Season B rains in Burundi will most likely be average at the national level. As is climatologically typical, localized dryness will be concentrated in the Eastern Lowlands, including during the rainy season. Above-normal temperatures are expected through at least June 2023.
- Due to the delay in the Season A harvest, much of the land typically used for Season B crops is still occupied by Season A crops, delaying the planting for the 2023 Season B until April. In addition, the delayed and below-average Season A bean harvest is likely to limit the availability of bean seeds for the Season B. Furthermore, poor and very poor households are likely to face difficulty purchasing seeds given high prices. In 2017, delays in the Season A harvest resulted in 30 percent of cultivatable land not being planted for Season B. Similarly, the 2023 Season B planted area is expected to be below average.
- Both locally produced and imported staple food prices are expected to trend higher compared to the same period of last year. The increase in food prices will be driven by the anticipated below-average Season A and B crop production, especially for beans in the surplus-producing livelihood zones of the Eastern and Northern Lowlands, along with decreased formal and informal food imports and high fuel and transportation costs. Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projections, bean prices in Gitega market are expected to be two times above average and around 70 to 100 percent above last year’s prices (Figure 7). Similarly, maize prices are expected to be two times higher than average and 50 to 80 percent above last year’s prices (Figure 8).
Source: SIP/WFP price data; FEWS NET projection
Source: SIP/WFP price data; FEWS NET projection
- Out of the 258,272 Burundian refugees being hosted in neighboring countries as of December 2022, UNHCR has set a target of facilitating the return of 70,000 people in 2023. On average, around 56,000 persons may likely be return between January and September 2023. Around 50 percent of the refugees are currently being hosted in refugee camps in Tanzania, and most of the returnees are expected to return to eastern, northern, and southern areas of Burundi. An estimated 80 percent of returnees will likely have access to their land, but it is unlikely they will be able to immediately resume engagement in typical livelihood activities given few resources to do so.
- Due to the intensification of intercommunal conflict in eastern DRC and the re-opening of the Burundi and DRC borders, the number of refugee and asylum seekers hosted in Burundi is expected to increase during the scenario period. Based on recent trends and current estimates from UNHCR, it is estimated that new arrivals may average around 3,000 people per month. As of January 2023, the Burundi government removed COVID-19 test requirements for travel, which is expected to increase the amount of cross-border travel, in addition to slowly increasing access to cross-border trade and labor opportunities. Still, persistent political issues between Burundi and Rwanda are likely limiting access to cross-border opportunities in the Northern Lowlands, while increasing insecurity in DRC will cause below-average income earning opportunities in the West. Dryness in Tanzania is expected to reduce agricultural labor activities in Tanzania, resulting in lower access to cross-border agricultural labor opportunities for poor and very poor households.
- WFP is expected to continue to prioritize delivery of humanitarian food assistance to the refugee/asylee and returnee populations. The refugee/asylee population will most likely continue to receive a full ration (whether in-kind or CBT) each month, while returnees will most likely continue to receive a one-time, three-month distribution. Distributions to IDPs, along with programs for school feeding and treatment of malnourished women and children, will vary based on funding.
- The decrease in incidences of armed conflict is expected to continue through the analysis period. The deployment of the Burundi National Defense Force (FDNB) to eastern DRC is expected to keep the center of conflict within the eastern DRC, thereby maintaining relative stability in Burundi in 2023.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
The Eastern and Northern Lowlands and the Eastern Arid Plateaus livelihood zones are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the harvest period of February to March 2023, while the rest of the country is expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. The three livelihood zones of concern have faced Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes since early 2022, and poor and very poor households have somewhat eroded their coping capacity to continue to meet their food and non-food needs. Following below-average 2023 Season A crop production, poor and very poor households will mostly depend on markets for food access during the April to May lean season, in the projected context of very high food prices (over 50 percent above average) and below-average access to income. As a result, at least 20 percent of the population (mainly poor and very poor households) in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during the minor lean season of April to May; an atypically elevated but lower share of the population is expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the Eastern Arid Plateaus.
During the harvest and post-harvest period of June to September 2023, poor and very poor households are expected to improve their food consumption due to the availability of 2023 Season B crop production. While the Season B harvest is expected to be below average, households will harvest several months of food stocks for consumption and sales, leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Still, the reduction in household access to food during the April to May minor lean season is likely to contribute to a deterioration of nutrition indicators in general, with GAM levels expected to remain at Alert (GAM 5-9.9 percent) in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones and the Eastern Arid Plateau during the lean season.
With humanitarian assistance expected to continue following normal trends, returnees and refugees will likely experience Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes throughout the outlook period. However, returnees who have exhausted their three-month food assistance and IDPs receiving limited food assistance are expected to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through the projected period.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
|Area||Event||Impact on food security outcomes|
|National||Heavy rainfall during the 2023 Season B (March to May 2023)||Localized, heavy rainfall will likely result in flooding in the lowlands, along rivers, and the banks of Lake Tanganyika. 2023 Season B crops, especially in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone, will likely be destroyed, increasing the number of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) households. However, above-average rainfall will benefit production in the Eastern Lowlands, Northern Lowlands, and Eastern Arid Plateaus livelihood zones, where 2023 Season B planting is delayed; more favorable yields would increase food and income from harvests, labor, and crop sales, reducing the population facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3).|
|National||Early end of the March to May rains||Rainfall typically ends in late May/early June. An early end to the March to May rains will result in a shortened crop-growing window, particularly for 2023 Season B crops that are planted late. Bean crops, very sensitive to rainfall, will be the most affected. A further below-average harvest will likely increase the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse acute food insecurity outcomes. The semi-arid areas in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zones would likely be the most affected.|
|National||Further devaluation of Burundi Franc||Even greater devaluation of the BIF, beyond what is already anticipated, would further decrease food imports and availability and further increase food prices. Increased food prices would decrease access to food for poor and very poor households, especially during the lean period of April to May, increasing the number of households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3).|
|Imbo Plains livelihood zone, Kibira naturel||Insecurity in eastern of DRC||Despite the stable security situation observed since 2022, escalating conflict in eastern DRC would lead to massive refugee displacement to Burundi and increase the number of people in need of assistance. Rebels fleeing counterattacks from the eastern Africa forces could disturb security in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone. Household access to food and income would remain at a reduced level as a result of conflicts.|
Northern Lowlands livelihood zone (Figure 9)
The Northern Lowlands livelihood zone, located along Burundi's northern border with Rwanda, has a population of around 1.1 million people. Poor and very poor households rely on farm-related labor opportunities and cross-border trade for food and income sources. The livelihood zone has been negatively affected by delayed rainfall during the 2023 Season A, causing below-average crop production. Poor households are affected by increased food prices and below-average incomes following reduced agricultural labor opportunities. Moreover, cross-border opportunities have been limited by political tensions between Burundi and Rwanda.
The 2023 Season A beans and maize harvest is expected to be 30 percent below average in the Northern Lowlands, resulting in increased household dependence on markets for food access, and contributing to raising maize and beans prices of between 40 to 50 percent above average. Reduced Season A and B crop production is also likely to limit the availability of agricultural labor opportunities, which are the main income source for poor and very poor households.
Source: FEWS NET
The Northern Lowlands livelihood zone hosts many returnees. Based on FEWS NET’s calculations, humanitarian food assistance was provided to around 3,000 returnees during the July 2022 to January 2023 period. Additionally, assistance was provided to populations considered to be at high risk of food insecurity within the area, estimated to be around 2,140 malnourished children and 2,154 pregnant and lactating women. Finally, in February 2023, interim updates provided by WFP to FEWS NET suggests around 7,730 refugee/asylee households (38,650 persons, primarily new arrivals from the DRC) received a 30-day ration, with in-kind food accounting for 70 percent of the ration and cash-based transfers representing approximately 30 percent.
In terms of livelihoods support, the FAO distributed seeds and fertilizer assistance, which is expected to continue throughout 2023.
Overall, the area currently faces Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, and a sub-set of households likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and need humanitarian assistance.
In addition to the national level assumptions, the projected food security outcomes for Northern Lowlands livelihood zone are based on the following assumptions:
- Average rainfall is forecast, though localized dryness which is climatologically typical in this livelihood zone – is expected between February to May 2023, especially in the semi-arid areas.
- Farmers are likely to reduce 2023 Season B cultivated areas due to the overlap of the A and B seasons, combined with below-average access to seeds. This is expected to result in below-normal labor demand through the June harvest. As the main income source for poor and very poor households, agricultural labor wages are expected to remain around 1,500 BIF, which is below what is typical (1,600 BIF) for income wages in this livelihood zone.
- Staple food prices were above average in January and are expected to remain above average throughout the projection period. Below-average 2023 Season A and B crop production, elevated import and food transportation costs, and the depreciation of the local currency are likely to drive high prices. Starting in June, below-average 2023 Season B crop production is expected to be an additional driver of increased food prices. Bean prices are expected to be around 100 percent higher than average in this livelihood zone.
- Humanitarian food assistance and safety net programs are expected to continue throughout the scenario period, including school meals, cash transfer programs, and moderate acute malnutrition treatment programs, which typically aim to provide nutritional supplements to 2,140 malnourished children and 2,325 pregnant and lactating women in Kirundi, based on FEWS NET’s calculations. Through the repatriation assistance program, one-time assistance to returnees will consist of a three-month ration package. This assistance consists of an approximately 70 percent ration of in-kind food and an approximately 30 percent ration in the form of CBTs.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
After exhausting their food stocks from the below-average 2023 Season A production, poor households are mainly relying on market purchases to meet their food needs during the April to May lean season. Below-average income is likely to decrease household purchasing power and access to food, worsening acute food security outcomes. For very poor and poor households, food consumption gaps or the engagement in negative coping to minimally meet food needs, is expected during the lean period of April to May 2023. Come June, when Season B production is available, food security will improve despite the fact that the harvest will be below average. During this time, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely. Levels of acute malnutrition are expected to generally stabilize to Acceptable (GAM < 5%) levels from February to March and June to August as food availability and access improves with the 2023 Season A and B harvests. However, given reduced own-produced food stocks and decreased purchasing power, acute malnutrition levels are expected to increase to Alert (GAM 5–9.9%) levels during the lean periods of April to May.
Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone (Figure 10)
The Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone has a population of around 894,000 people, including around 313,000 poor and very poor people (about 62,590 households). The population of concern detailed below is very poor households affected by below-average 2023 Season A crop production, below-average income access, and atypical food price increases. The area is predominantly in semi-arid climatic conditions. While the area doesn’t host refugees, there is a significant returnee population, most of whom received a one-time distribution of a three-month ration upon arrival back to Burundi.
Source: FEWS NET
Bean and maize crops, which are typically planted in early September and represent about 30 percent of the season’s crops, were wilted by dryness from early September to November. Due to delayed rainfall and dry spells, most Season A planting activities were carried out in November, leading to the overlap of Seasons A and B, which reduced the cropland available for Season B planting. The loss of Season A crop production from delayed and below-average rainfall is estimated at 25 percent.
As a result of below-average agricultural activities in Seasons A and B, poor and very poor households face lower than normal income from this source. It is common for the farmers in the Eastern Lowlands to rent land in Tanzania for crop production when they face below-average income opportunities locally. However, dry conditions in Tanzania have reduced access to this income source as well.
During the prolonged lean season of October to January 2023, poor and very poor households exhausted their food stock and reduced their incomes. The income of very poor and poor households has reduced due to limited labor opportunities and cross-border income. As a result, the area currently faces Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, and a sub-set of households likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and need humanitarian assistance.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
- Historically dry areas in Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone is expected to experience dry spells and slightly above normal temperatures through June 2023.
- The overlap of Seasons A and B is expected to reduce the cultivated area for 2023 Season B crop production by 20 to 30 percent, contributing to a reduction in the Season B harvest in June.
- The expected localized dryness will reduce agricultural activities and labor opportunities of poor and very poor households throughout the projected period.
- Above-average food prices since 2022 are expected to remain higher through the projected period. Below-average 2023 Season A and B crop production, elevated import and food transportation costs, and the loss in value of the local currency (BIF) compared to the Tanzanian shilling are likely to drive high food prices.
- Through the repatriation assistance program, one-time assistance to returnees arriving from Tanzania to the East Lowlands livelihood zone will consist of a wet/cooked food ration during the transition time and a three-month ration food package to facilitate their restarting of previous livelihoods. This assistance consists of an approximately 70 percent ration of in-kind food and an approximately 30 percent ration in the form of CBTs. The returnees are expected to start their agricultural activities at the start of the next rainfall season after their arrival; for those that arrive after April/May, this means they will not plant until the start of the September-December rainy season.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Food stocks from the Season A harvest are expected to be depleted early, and poor households will increasingly rely on markets for food in the context of above-average food prices. Food prices are trending 45 to 60 percent higher than last year, and the cost of the food basket to cover daily caloric needs increased by 105 percent between 2021 and 2023.
The Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone has faced Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity since early 2022, with poor and very poor households applying coping strategies such as selling food stocks faster than normal and reducing the dietary diversity of food consumed. A sub-set of households likely faced food consumption gaps consistent with Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Poor and very poor households are expected to continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes through March, with the below-average harvest of the 2023 Season A adding pressure to existing acute food insecurity. The early exhaustion of food stocks from the 2023 Season A harvest, combined with below-average income access and increased food prices, will likely lead to further food security deterioration among poor and very poor households, who are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during the lean period of April to May 2023.
During the harvest period of June to August 2023, the Season B crop production is likely to increase food access for poor and very poor households, driving improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Levels of acute malnutrition are expected to stabilize, maintaining Acceptable (≤5 percent) acute malnutrition levels from February to March and June to August as food availability and access improve with the 2023 A and B harvests, though higher levels of acute malnutrition are expected during the lean season period of April to May.
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Burundi Food Security Outlook February to September 2023: Below-average Season A harvest will likely drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the north and east, 2023.
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.