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Near-average B Season harvests improve food access through September 2022

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burundi
  • June 2022 - January 2023
Near-average B Season harvests improve food access through September 2022

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  • Key Messages
  • NATIONAL OVERVIEW
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Near-average 2022 Season B crop production and access to typical income sources are supporting Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes across Burundi through January 2023. However, poor and very poor households in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2), driven by below-average bean production, high food prices, and below-average income as cross-border trade with Tanzania and Rwanda remain below normal. 

    • In May 2022, the Institut des Statistiques Economiques du Burundi (ISTEEBU) reported that the national inflation rate was 18 percent, the highest since 2018. This follows a relatively rapid rise in food and fuel prices, driven by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global food and fuel prices. In May 2022, the food inflation rate was over 22 percent, around seven points higher than in March 2022. The rising food and fuel prices limit household purchasing power as the high transportation costs are passed onto the consumers. 

    • In May 2022, staple food prices are 20 to 40 percent above the five-year average and 10 to 50 percent above last year, driven by increasing inflation and high fuel prices. Staple food price projections between June 2022 and January 2023 indicate that staple food prices are likely to be 30 to 50 percent above the five-year average and 45 to 55 percent above last year. Food prices will likely increase the most during the October to December 2022 lean season.

    • Humanitarian food assistance distributed in May is driving Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) food security outcomes for the approximately 54,800 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in five refugee camps and two transit centers, 9,500 moderately malnourished pregnant and lactating women, and 11,230 children. Around 35,000 children and pregnant and lactating women received specialized nutritious food for stunting prevention. However, the around 3,500 returnees who arrived between January and March 2022 are likely to have exhausted the three-month rations they received upon arrival and will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the A season harvest in September with limited access to income.  


    NATIONAL OVERVIEW

    Current Situation

    Household food access is improving in June with the start of the anticipated near-normal 2022 B Season crop harvest. The B season harvest typically provides households with around 50 percent of their annual crop production, the A season provides 35 percent of annual crop production, and the C season provides around 15 percent of annual crop production.

    Despite the poor rainfall distribution over the vegetative crop growth stages, cumulatively near-average rainfall from February to May 2022 and above-average soil moisture supported near normal 2022 B Season crop production nationally. According to key informants, a prolonged dry spell in the first half of May resulted in around 30 percent of bean fields reporting some loss of flowers and pods (Figure 1). Key informants estimate that the 2022 B Season bean harvest will likely be 5-10 percent lower than normal. However, the tuber, cereal, and banana crop harvest are expected to be close to normal, given that these crops are more tolerant to short-term water stress.

    Cash crop production (coffee, tea, and palm oil) and income are likely to be average in Season B, along with other marketable crops like cassava, rice, potatoes, and sorghum. The rise in food prices is also benefitting producers; however, the high prices limit food access for poor households dependent on market purchases to minimize or fill food consumption gaps.

    In May 2022, Burundi's food price index was 126.3 points (2016=100), 13.9 percent greater than May 2021, while the national inflation rate was 18.75 percent. In the May 2022 Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the Institut des Statistiques Economiques du Burundi (ISTEEBU), the cost of transportation increased by 9 percent, likely driven by the rising cost of fuel prices. From March to May 2022, fuel oil prices in the Gitega market have increased by around 45 percent, rising from 2400 BIF/liter to 3480 BIF/liter, reflecting the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on global oil prices (Figure 2). The rise in fuel and transportation prices is contributing to increasing food prices, reducing household purchasing power and food access for very poor and poor households.

    In addition to the rise in fuel prices, the price of sunflower and palm oil, typically used in household cooking, have also rapidly increased because of the conflict in Ukraine's impact on the global sunflower oil market. Although direct imports of sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine to Burundi are negligible, Burundi imports around 95 percent of its sunflower oil from Egypt, which in 2020 imported around 73 percent of its sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia. Following the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the global vegetable oil market, sunflower oil prices in Burundi have nationally increased 33 percent compared to last year (6,500 BIF to 8,667 BIF) and are 56 percent above the five-year average. The rise in sunflower oil prices has increased demand for local palm oil, driving a similar price increase. Local palm oil prices are also 30 percent above prices last year and 50 percent above five-average (Figure 3). The increase in key staples for very poor and poor households is likely resulting in households buying smaller quantities of cooking oil due to the higher prices.

    Despite the start of the 2022 B Season harvest, main food prices remain 5 to 10 percent higher in May 2022 than in April 2022, likely due to high fuel prices being passed on to the consumer (Figure 4). Additionally, staple food prices are 20 to 40 percent above the five-year average and 10 to 50 percent above prices last year. The rapid rise in fuel and transportation prices is likely driving food prices to remain higher than typical at the start of a harvest. However, poor rural households are likely not as impacted by the rise in food prices as they are increasingly dependent on their own production for food in June, while very poor landless and urban poor households are likely the most affected.

    In June 2022, the seven-day rolling average of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases ranged between seven and 31, a decline from the most recent peak of a seven-day average of 158 cases around May 1, 2022. However, less than 1 percent of Burundians have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Since early 2022, the borders with Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have reopened; however, the land border with Rwanda remains officially closed due to political disagreements. According to the IOM DTM population mobility trends, in March 2022, around 37,800 Burundians were monitored crossing into Tanzania, the highest number since November 2021 (Figure 5). Around 91 percent of the movements were on foot, with around 78 percent of movements crossing for economic reasons. Around 86 percent of all crossings reported that they intend to stay for one week or less, suggesting that they are not renting land but rather earning income from casual labor or petty trade. Overall, the data from the IOM suggests that cross-border movements, particularly with Tanzania, have remained relatively stable since July 2020, with an average of around 40,470 people crossing each month from July 2020 to March 2022.                                                              

    At the end of April 2022, Burundi confirmed its first Rift Valley Fever (RVF) case. By the end of May, there were nearly 500 recorded cases. RVF was first detected in Kirundo and Ngozi provinces near the border with Rwanda and has since spread to Kayanza, Karusi, Cibitoke, Bujumbura, Rumonge, and Makamba provinces by the end of May. Around 100 cows have reportedly died from the outbreak. The spread of RVF is a concern as the disease can cause significant economic losses due to high mortality rates in young animals and waves of abortions in pregnant females. In response to the outbreak, the Ministry of Agriculture has banned the movement of ruminants in the affected areas and a slaughter ban until further notice. The government has yet to provide livestock owners with the vaccine; however, the preventive measures in place and community fear of being infected have resulted in lower demand for livestock products, and a decrease in income for livestock owners. Data from the ENAB indicates that 25, 45, and 15 percent of households (mainly middle and better-off) own cows, goats and sheep. According to the March 2022 Food Security Monitoring System (FSMS/WFP) assessment, most rural households rely primarily on income from agriculture, while secondary income sources include livestock activities, labor, petty trade, and the sale cash crops. The ban on livestock movements and slaughter, is likely resulting in short-term income losses, however household food access is likely to remain normal supported by the ongoing near-average Season B harvest.

    The frequency and magnitude of violent clashes between armed groups and government forces have continued their downward trajectory in the first quarter of 2022. Only sporadic security incidents continue to occur in Cibitoke province and are expected to remain steady. However, security instability is likely along the border with the DRC's South Kivu province, which hosts multiple active transnational rebel groups. However, this is not affecting food and income sources in Burundi.

    As of June 2022, Burundi's Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022 is 3.3 percent funded, with around 6 million USD received out of a requested 176.4 million USD. As of May 2022, the maize stock-out has led WFP to suspend school feeding for around 30 percent of students in the program, approximately 200,000 primary students. Key informants from the National Directorate of School Feeding reported that most schools lack cereal rations for school meals, a key source of kilocalories. In May 2022, WFP continued to provide food and nutritional assistance to around 55,000 refugees, distributing around 189 metric tons of in-kind food and over 525,500 USD in cash transfers. Each beneficiary received in-kind food rations equivalent to 120g of pulses, 25g of oil, and 5g of iodized salt per day, and 13,000 BIF per person per month instead of cereals, equivalent to around 93 percent of the daily kilocalorie requirement per person per day. Around 600 Burundian refugees also received 360g of cereals, 120g of legumes, 25g of vegetable oil, and 5g of iodized salt per person per day as part of a three-month return package. Additionally, around 17,000 moderately malnourished pregnant and lactating women and girls and around 11,400 children under the age of five received 96 metric tons of specialized nutritious food in Cankuzo, Kirundo, Ngozi, and Rutana provinces. 

    Discussions between WFP and the government through the National Agency for Food Stock Management (ANAGESA) are ongoing, as there is uncertainty about where WFP will source food for the next few months. ANAGESA was supposed to supply local food items for humanitarian assistance programs; however, the estimated maize stock in June is around 38 percent of what is required for humanitarian assistance during the next six months. WFP will likely seek to purchase maize outside of Burundi to fill the gap.

    Overall, the near-average 2022 B Season crop harvests in June and July is improving food availability for roughly 90 percent of households dependent on their own crop production. Across most of Burundi, income sources remain typical, allowing households to access food from market purchases to meet their food needs not met by production. Typical access to income and food is expected to drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes across most of the country. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones, driven by high prices and reduced income-earning opportunities due to the Rwanda border closure and the high cost for a COVID-19 test to cross the Tanzanian border formally. Key informants report that food access is comparable to March 2022, when the 2022 A Season harvest took place. The B season harvest is improving household food access and availability and is likely supporting Acceptable (GAM WHZ <5 percent) acute malnutrition rates.


    Assumptions

    Between June 2022 and January 2023, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Based on the NMME and WMO forecasts, the September-December 2002 short rains season in Burundi is most likely to be below average though there is uncertainty given the long-term nature of the forecast. The aridest areas of Eastern and Northern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zones are typically the most at risk of below-average rainfall. 
    • The 2022 B Season harvest is expected to be near-average nationally. However, the bean harvest is likely below-average following water stress in early May during the critical growth stage of flowering and pod formation. The most affected areas are likely to be in the low-altitude areas of the Eastern and Northern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zones that are typically arider. However, the tuber, cereal, and banana harvest are expected to be near normal in these areas.
    • The C Season occurs primarily in the marshlands and is likely to be normal. Average rainfall between March to May 2022 created favorable soil moisture in the marshlands for the normal growth and development of plants. The C Season produces around 15 percent of the annual crop production, particularly for households possessing marshland plots in localized valleys and along rivers.
    • The 2023 Season A harvest is likely to be below-average, driven by the forecast of below-average September to December 2022 rainfall. The Northern Lowlands, Eastern Lowlands, and Imbo Plains livelihood zones are typically prone to dry conditions and localized below-average crop production. Beans are particularly sensitive to water stress and are the most likely to be the crop most affected.
    • Rift Valley Fever (RVF) was confirmed for the first time in April 2022 and was reported in Kayanza, Karusi, Cibitoke, Bujumbura, Rumonge, and Makamba provinces by the end of May. RVF is likely to spread within infected provinces and across Burundi. The closure of livestock markets and community fear of being infected will likely lead to lower demand and prices for livestock products and a decrease in income for livestock owners and poor households who earn income through livestock-related activities.
    • Staple food prices are expected to be higher than prices last year and above the five-year average through the scenario period. In the Gitega market, bean prices are expected to be 30 to 50 percent above average, around 45 to 55 percent above last year's price (Figure 6). Similarly, maize prices are expected to be 45 to 50 percent above average and 50 percent above prices last year (Figure 7). The above-average prices are being driven by increases in fuel, fertilizer, and transportation costs and anticipated below-average 2022 B Season beans production.
    • Humanitarian assistance is expected to be provided, in-kind and cash transfer, to Burundian returnees from foreign countries, refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), IDPs impacted by flooding, school feeding programs, and malnourished women and children. Around 1,800 people are expected to return each month over the scenario period. The persistence of inter-communal conflicts in eastern DRC and the reopening of the Burundi and DRC borders are likely to result in a 10 percent increase in asylum seekers to Burundi, with around 60,000 refugees expected in the scenario period.
    • The government is expected to maintain mandatory COVID-19 testing at land and air borders through the scenario period. The high cost of a COVID-19 test will continue to reduce access to cross-border food and income sources for poor and very poor households in the Eastern and Imbo Plains livelihood zones. However, informal/unofficial border crossings will likely continue at near-average rates. The closure of the Burundian border to Rwanda due to political issues will likely limit cross-border food and income opportunities for poor and very poor households in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone. The reduction in purchasing power is likely to reduce household food access and agricultural input purchases during the October-December lean season.
    • The frequency and magnitude of violent clashes between armed groups and government forces are expected to remain low in the country's interior into 2023. Any violence that occurs is most likely to occur in areas along the border with DRC's South Kivu province, which hosts multiple active transnational rebel groups. Armed groups' activity is likely to impact civilian populations in the localized areas but is unlikely to impact Burundi's food or income security significantly.
    • Acute malnutrition rates are expected to remain Acceptable (GAM <5 percent) supported by steady food access during the harvest period of June to September 2022 and the expected average 2022 C crop harvest. During the October 2022 to January 2023 lean season, nutrition outcomes are likely to deteriorate but remain Acceptable (GAM <5 percent).

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between June 2022 and January 2023, most of Burundi will have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, supported by near normal access to typical food and income sources throughout the outlook period. Food stocks from near-average 2022 B Season production will supply food between June and September 2022 for most households. Normal access to income sources will allow for near-typical access to market purchases, despite food price increases, allowing households to fill food gaps after exhausting food stocks during the October to January lean period. However, the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the scenario period. The 2022 B Season bean harvest, the main crop cultivated and sold for income, is expected to be below average, likely reducing household access to income from crop sales. Due to the high price of COVID-19 tests to officially cross the Tanzanian border and the closure of the Rwandan border, poor and very poor households in the Eastern and Northern lowland livelihood zones will continue to face lower than normal access to income from cross-border trade and labor opportunities. Below average access to income combined with increasing food prices is expected to limit household purchasing power, restricting non-food purchases. In particular, in September and October, school fees payments and the purchase of agricultural inputs for the 2023 A Season will constrain household purchasing power, along with above-average food prices during the October-December lean season

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario. 

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalHeavy rainfall during the 2023 A SeasonHeavy rainfall in localized areas would result in flooding in lowlands areas and along rivers, resulting in landslides and the destruction of farm lands. However, above-average rainfall will benefit the Eastern Lowlands and Northern Lowlands, which are typically drier than the rest of Burundi.  
    Eastern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zonesRemoval of COVID-19 border controls The removal of the COVID-19 test fees would improve cross-border trade and labor opportunities for poor and very poor households, particularly during the October to January lean season. Improved access to cross-border income will improve income earning opportunities and purchasing power, reducing the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 
    Northern livelihood zonesBorder reopening and removal of COVID-19 border controls Reopening the border with Rwanda will improve access to income for poor and very poor households in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zones, who typically seek agricultural labor opportunities in Rwanda. Improved access to cross-border income will improve household purchasing power and market food access. 

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report. 

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 4

    Figure 2.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from ISTEEBU

    Figure 5

    Figure 3.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from SIP/WFP

    Figure 6

    Figure 4.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from SIP/WFP

    Figure 7

    Figure 5.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from IOM DTM

    Figure 8

    Figure 6.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from SIP/WFP

    Figure 9

    Figure 7.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from SIP/WFP

    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.

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