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Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected in western and northern Burundi

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burundi
  • June 2024 - January 2025
Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected in western and northern Burundi

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  • Key Messages
  • Analysis in brief
  • Food security context
  • Current food security conditions as of June 2024
  • Analysis of key food and income sources
  • Humanitarian food assistance
  • Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2024
  • Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025
  • Projected acute food insecurity outcomes June 2024 to January 2025
  • Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in Imbo Plains and Northern Lowlands during the post-harvest period of June to September 2024. Flooding and the overflow of Tanganyika Lake have led to below-average crops production and income sources in the west. Additionally, limited cross-border opportunities have reduced income access and purchasing capacity of poor households in the north.
    • Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are projected to persist in the north and west and extend to the east during the lean period from October 2024 to January 2025. Household food access is expected to be reduced due to the rapid depletion of food stocks from own crop production, along with below-average agricultural activities limiting access to agricultural labor opportunities, the primary source of income for poor and very poor households. Moreover, La Niña conditions and anticipated food price increases will likely worsen the acute food insecurity situation. The semi-arid areas in the north, east, and west are particularly exposed to the anticipated below-average rainfall towards the end of 2024.
    • The areas of highest concern include flood-affected IDPs, refugees, and returnees who exhausted the three-month food assistance received up on arrival. Poor and very poor households are also among the highest concern populations. The total number of individuals affected is estimated to be 700,000 people, with November being the peak period.
    • Despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, a reduction in food assistance is anticipated. Refugees are currently receiving only 70 percent of their monthly food rations due to resource constraints, while less than 25 percent of IDPs have received food assistance. It is likely that the food assistance levels will further scale down during the analysis period. As a result, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are anticipated for refugees and IDPs between June 2024 and January 2025.

    Analysis in brief

    Flooding and economic conditions are causing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in Imbo. A continued decline in the export of cash crops and minerals is contributing to the country’s high trade deficit, and most macroeconomic indicators remain at critical levels, driving a precarious economic situation characterized by instability of the Burundi franc (BIF) and worsening official exchange rates up to half of the parallel market. Reduced import capacity is forcing traders to rely more on the parallel market for imports, leading to increased prices of imported goods, including food and essential non-food items. Fuel, which has been scarce since early 2024, is among the most affected imports. This scarcity impacts many sectors of the economy, including transportation costs and food prices. In addition to critical macroeconomic gaps: 

    • Floods and the overflow of Lake Tanganyika (Figure 1) have severely impacted the Imbo Plains, destroying 40,000 hectares of crops and the income sources of poor and very poor households. This disaster has displaced 300,000 people, with around 80 percent of the damage concentrated in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone.
    Figure 1. Highest lake levels in decades
    Highest lake levels in decades

    Source: Source: IPAD/USDA

    • Additionally, the closure of borders with Rwanda has reduced cross-border economic opportunities, diminishing income access and increasing food gaps in the north.
    • A SMART survey conducted in May 2024 recorded a national global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence of 8 percent (95% CI: 7.4-8.7), indicative of an Alert level according to WHO classification, and also indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. The result also shows a worsening situation in comparison to GAM prevalence of 4.8 percent recorded in March 2022, driven by reduced food access evidenced in the survey. 

      Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist in the Eastern Lowland livelihood zone during the lean period from October to December 2024. Due to the rapid depletion of food stocks from own crop production, households are likely to rely predominantly on market purchases for food access, facing competing expenses for school fees and agricultural inputs for 2025 and well-above average staple food prices that limit their purchasing power. La Niña conditions expected from October to December 2024 are likely to result in below-average rainfall, leading to reduced agricultural activities, cash crop production, and livestock activities, which in turn will decrease labor opportunities. The anticipated decrease in income for poor and very poor households, who comprise about 40 percent of the total population, will reduce their purchasing power and food access during this period. Semi-arid areas in the north, east, and west are the most vulnerable to the expected below-average rainfall.

      Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the analysis period for specific groups of households dependent on humanitarian assistance. These groups include IDPs affected by floods, refugees, and returnees from surrounding countries, who primarily depend on humanitarian food assistance and have limited access to their own income and food sources.

      Currently, refugees receive only 70 percent of the standard food ration due to resource constraints, and fewer than 25 percent of IDPs are covered by food assistance. Refugees, especially within their first two years of arrival, cannot meet essential non-food needs and will likely need livelihood interventions after their three-month food assistance package is exhausted. They are expected to face food consumption gaps or engage in stressed coping mechanisms during the lean period from October to January. Further reductions in food assistance are expected, leading to persistent Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for most IDPs and refugees between June 2024 and January 2025.

    Learn more

    The analysis in this report is based on information available as of June 30, 2024. Follow these links for additional information: 


    Food security context

    Agriculture: In Burundi, subsistence and smallholder farming are widely practiced, with most households cultivating small plots of land. Farmers have limited access to improved agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, and they primarily rely on rain-fed farming, leading to low production despite the availability of three different growing seasons each year. The high population density exacerbates land scarcity and results in fragmented land holdings, further restricting agricultural productivity. Over 90 percent of the population depends on agriculture, which is particularly vulnerable to weather hazards, especially in the northern and northeastern regions. Delayed rainfall or dry spells significantly reduce crop yields, and the degradation of natural resources—including landslides, soil erosion, and loss of soil fertility—compounds these challenges.

    In the current situation, June is mainly dominated by the Season B harvest, which contributes about 50 percent of Burundi's annual food production. Additionally, land preparation for Season C is carried out during this period, and labor opportunities are provided to poor households. Burundi faces severe malnutrition issues, with over 55 percent of children stunted, according to UNICEF, indicative of chronic malnutrition caused by long-term poor dietary diversity, inadequate healthcare services, and frequent disease outbreaks. The Season B harvest covers 50 percent of annual crop production and plays a crucial role in increasing access to food, stabilizing food prices, and providing employment opportunities for poor households, thereby increasing their purchasing power and access to sufficient food. The Season C harvest starts from September through November, while the Season A harvest is available from December to February and contributes 15 and 35 percent of the annual food production, respectively. 

    Burundi's economy is among the least developed in the world, characterized by high levels of poverty and unemployment, limited industrialization, and poor infrastructure. The country's economy is heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, which is susceptible to weather variations and environmental degradation. High inflation rates and the rapid devaluation of the currency further diminish households' purchasing capacity, making it difficult for many poor households to access sufficient food. Burundi has recorded a high trade deficit of about 86 million USD, coupled with a decline in exports of cash crops and minerals, accelerating macroeconomic challenges. 

    Conflict: In 2015, Burundi faced a major political crisis and instability following the presidential term extension, which sparked widespread protests and a violent crackdown by security forces. The unrest led to an attempted coup, escalating violence, and ongoing political instability, displacing hundreds of thousands of people to neighboring countries. Those displaced people are currently returning to their home villages with the support of the government, UN, and humanitarian agencies. However, due to localized floodings and landslides, Burundi has over 300,000 IDPs who seek urgent humanitarian assistance. The mass displacement disrupted farming activities, resulting in significant losses of lives and livelihoods. 

    Figure 2. Seasonal calendar for a typical year
    Seasonal calendar for a typical year in Burundi

    Source: FEWS NET


    Current food security conditions as of June 2024

    Early warning of acute food insecurity outcomes requires forecasting outcomes months in advance to provide decision makers with sufficient time to budget, plan, and respond to expected humanitarian crises. However, due to the complex and variable factors that influence acute food insecurity, definitive predictions are impossible. Scenario Development is the methodology that allows FEWS NET to meet decision makers’ needs by developing a “most likely” scenario of the future. The starting point for scenario development is a robust analysis of current food security conditions, which is the focus of this section. 

    Key guiding principles for FEWS NET’s scenario development process include applying the Disaster Risk Reduction framework and a livelihoods-based lens to assessing acute food insecurity outcomes. A household’s risk of acute food insecurity is a function of not only hazards (such as a drought) but also the household’s vulnerability to those hazards (for example, the household’s level of dependence on rainfed crop production for food and income) and coping capacity (which considers both household capacity to cope with a given hazard and the use of negative coping strategies that harm future coping capacity). To evaluate these factors, FEWS NET grounds this analysis in a strong foundational understanding of local livelihoods, which are the means by which a household meets their basic needs. FEWS NET’s scenario development process also accounts for the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework; the Four Dimensions of Food Security; and UNICEF’s Nutrition Conceptual Framework, and is closely aligned with the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analytical framework.

    Key hazards 

    Irregular rainfall between February and June 2024 has impacted agricultural outcomes. Rainfall from February to April was above average (Figure 3), but it was interrupted in May, one month before the completion and harvest of 2024 Season B crops. This early cessation of rainfall in May, during the critical growth stage of flowering and pod formation for approximately 25 percent of bean crops, significantly reduced the season's production, destroying about 15 percent of the bean production.

    Floods and the overflow of Lake Tanganyika, caused by above-average rainfall since late 2023, have severely damaged crops, public infrastructure, and residential houses. According to a joint press release from the government and the United Nations, an estimated 40,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed across the country, affecting 300,000 people, with approximately 80 percent of the damage concentrated in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone.

    Figure 3. National monthly rainfall performance
    National monthly rainfall performance

    Source: Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Macroeconomic challenges and inflation: In the first quarter of 2024, Burundi recorded a trade deficit of 199,000 million BIF (70 million USD), one of the highest in the past 20 years. A significant driver of this trade deficit is the continued decline in the export of cash crops and minerals. Coffee production decreased from 18.5 thousand tons in 2020 to 7.5 thousand tons in 2024, while cotton production was halved during the same period. Additionally, gold and coltan production dropped by half between 2000 and 2023, further reducing national income.

    These critical macroeconomic indicators have led to the instability of the BIF and worsening official exchange rates, which are now up to half of the parallel market rate. This precarious economic situation reduces import capacity, forcing traders to increasingly rely on the parallel market for imports, resulting in higher prices for imported goods, including food and essential non-food items. Despite near-average 2024 Season A and B harvests that have helped to stabilize food price inflation, the overall inflation rate remains high, at above 10 percent as of April/May 2024, driven by these macroeconomic challenges.

    Above-average food prices: Despite relative stability compared to last year (Figure 4), staple food prices in May/June 2024 remain 20 to 35 percent above the five-year average. The above-average food prices are driven by high national inflation, increased expenses for agricultural inputs, and high fuel and transportation costs, which limit food access for poor and very poor households.

    Figure 4. Food commodity price dynamics
    Food commodity price dynamics

    Source: Source: SIP/WFP

    Conflict and political tensions: Political tensions and insecurity in the region and in Burundi have reduced food and income access in localized areas. The war in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has displaced civilians, including around 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers being hosted in Burundi in five refugee camps located in Ruyigi, Cankuzo, and Ngozi provinces as well as in urban areas in Bujumbura and Rumonge. These refugees are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid for food and non-food items. In addition, due to political tension between Burundi and Rwanda, both countries decided to close their border, restricting the movement of people and the flow of food and non-food items. This closure has reduced income access from cross-border opportunities for both labor and petty trading.


    Analysis of key food and income sources

    According to the WFP Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) survey conducted in August 2023, households in Burundi derive a significant portion of their income from various sources. Approximately half of their total income comes from staple crop production and agriculture, with an additional 20 percent coming from labor sales, 15 percent from livestock-related activities, 10 percent from petty trade, and 5 percent from cash crop-related activities (Figure 5).

    Crop production: The 2024 Season B harvest is expected to be near-average, supported by average to above-average rainfall from March to April, as well as government and humanitarian support in the form of technical assistance and agricultural inputs, including seeds and fertilizers. Also predicted by USGS analysis, the above-average March and April rainfall improved the vegetative growth of bean, rice, and tuber crops to average conditions in most parts of the country.

    However, the early interruption of rainfall in May, during the critical growth stage of flowering and pod formation, destroyed around 15 percent of the bean crops. Despite this, tuber, cereal, and banana production are expected to be average due to their resilience to rainfall deficits, leading to an overall near-average crop production for the 2024 Season B.

    Figure 5. Share of total household income by source, among rural households, based on an August 2023 national survey (n = 2,705 households)
    Share of total household income by source, among rural households, based on an August 2023 national survey (n = 2,705 households)

    Source: Source: WFP/CFSVA

    Livestock production: According to the August 2023 WFP/CFSVA survey, 55 percent of households keep livestock, including cows and chickens. The livestock are predominantly kept for self-consumption and partially for sale as a coping strategy during periods of stress. 

    • Cows, mostly owned by middle-income and wealthy households, offer consistent income and food (milk), but also serve as a source of labor for poor and very poor households. Average livestock ownership in the highland livelihood zones ranges from 1 to 2 cows, while the national average is 0.6 livestock per household. 
    • Goats and sheep, averaging about 1.5 per household, are common across all provinces and serve as a reliable income source for middle-income households. 
    • Chickens and other birds, averaging 1.5 per household, are primarily raised for sale in the market as a crucial part of household livelihoods, serving as a coping strategy to supplement income or food consumption gaps. Around 70 percent of households engage in selling chicken products in the market, while 24 percent utilize them for their own consumption and for selling products like eggs.
    • Favorable rainfall towards the end of 2023 and early 2024 enhanced pasture conditions and subsequently boosted livestock production in Burundi. This improvement encompassed increased yields of milk, meat, and eggs, which were sold in markets, thereby raising livestock owners' incomes. Approximately 60 percent of this income boost benefited middle and wealthier households primarily. However, the increased income generated from livestock also created labor income opportunities for poor and very poor households in the country.

    Income sources: The main income for better-off households is expected to be above-average, with the near-average 2024 Season B harvest and anticipated above-average food prices surpassing the five-year average. This increased income encourages more investment in crop production, leading to above-average agricultural labor opportunities for poor and very poor households.

    • Income from labor is the second primary source of income for around 40 percent of the population, benefiting poor and very poor households. Labor wages significantly increased, by approximately 20 to 50 percent compared to the previous year. Improved access to cross-border opportunities in Tanzania has been particularly beneficial, accompanying farming activities and labor-based employment. This has contributed to progressively boosting income levels for households in the Eastern Lowlands, Eastern Dry Plateaus, and Buragane regions. The daily wages in Tanzania are approximately 60 percent higher than in Burundi, significantly enhancing household incomes and reducing competition for local job opportunities. In contrast, the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone faces challenges with lower labor wages, around 50 percent below the national average. Furthermore, the complete closure of the Burundi and Rwanda borders since January 2024 has restricted cross-border opportunities, resulting in below-average income-earning opportunities in those areas. 
    • Cash crop production, mainly coffee, tea and oil palm, has increased due to favorable rainfall conditions. This has resulted in above-average income for the middle-income and better-off households cultivating these crops, who represent around 45 percent of the total population. The recent 15 percent increase in the price of cherry coffee has further increased income from cash crops. The increased income from cash crop production has also provided poor and very poor households with labor income opportunities from activities such as harvesting, processing, and selling of products. However, floods have significantly reduced oil palm production in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone, thereby reducing income for owners and limiting opportunities for poor households engaged in related labor activities. A FEWS NET rapid assessment conducted in May 2024 indicated that floods and the overflow of Lake Tanganyika have reduced labor opportunities for poor and very poor households by 25 to 50 percent.

    Market supplies and fuel shortage: Major provincial marketplaces, including cross-border and import markets from neighboring countries, supplying staples like beans, maize, and cassava are integrated, but fuel shortages severely limit food transportation and reduce diversification of food items in the markets. Due to mobility constraints, crops specific to certain livelihood zones are likely to be sold in nearby markets, leading to a localized decline in prices. However, when the food is transported to deficit areas, prices sharply increase due to elevated transportation costs. Similarly, the scarcity of foreign currency and reliance on the parallel market to access USD have resulted in below-average availability of imported foods. This situation exacerbates food shortages in the country, particularly in areas where crop production is insufficient to meet local demand.


    Humanitarian food assistance

    Humanitarian food assistance—defined as emergency food assistance (in-kind, cash, or voucher)—may play a key role in mitigating the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes. FEWS NET analysts always incorporate available information on food assistance, with the caveat that information on food assistance is highly variable across geographies and over time. In line with IPC protocols, FEWS NET uses the best available information to assess where food assistance is “significant” (defined by at least 25 percent of households in a given area receiving at least 25 percent of their caloric requirements through food assistance); see report Annex. In addition, FEWS NET conducts deeper analysis of the likely impacts of food assistance on the severity of outcomes, as detailed in FEWS NET’s guidance on Integrating Humanitarian Food Assistance into Scenario Development. Other types of assistance (e.g., livelihoods or nutrition assistance; social safety net programs) are incorporated elsewhere in FEWS NET’s broader analysis, as applicable. 

    According to the WFP, approximately 57,500 refugees and asylum seekers received only about 70 percent of their usual monthly food ration in May 2024 due to funding shortages. Additionally, humanitarian food assistance covering a three-month ration has been provided to 2,800 returnees, while 42,000 flood victims in Imbo Plains received food aid through combined cash-based transfers (CBT), allowing them to purchase food from the market. Floods, landslides, and rising water levels in Lake Tanganyika are estimated to affect approximately 300,000 people, leading to increased humanitarian food and non-food aid requirements in the affected areas.


    Current acute food insecurity outcomes as of June 2024

    Based on the analysis of food security conditions, FEWS NET then assesses the extent to which households are able to meet their minimum caloric needs. This analysis converges evidence of food security conditions with available direct evidence of household-level food consumption and livelihood change; FEWS NET also considers available area-level evidence of nutritional status and mortality, with a focus on assessing if these reflect the physiological impacts of acute food insecurity rather than other non-food-related factors. Ultimately, FEWS NET uses the globally recognized five-phase Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale to classify current acute food insecurity outcomes. In addition, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of ongoing humanitarian food assistance.

    National food availability has improved across the country, as households benefit from near-average food stocks from Season A and harvests from Season B. Households benefited from increased agricultural crop and cash crop production activities, supported by a 20 to 50 increase in labor wages compared to the previous year. This increase in wages has enhanced purchasing power, particularly benefiting the 10 percent of landless individuals who fully rely on markets for food access. The seasonal stability of food prices has further contributed to improved food consumption during this period.

    Global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates show increased acute food insecurity: A SMART survey conducted during the 2024 March to April lean season recorded a national GAM prevalence of 8.0 percent (96% CI:7.4-8.7), indicative of an Alert situation (GAM 5-9.9%) and a deterioration compared with a GAM rate of 4.8 percent recorded during a similar season in 2022. Rumonge (11.8%) and Cibitoke (10.0%) provinces, which cover most of the Imbo Plains livelihood zone, recorded a GAM prevalence of 11.8 and 10 percent, respectively, indicative of a Serious level (GAM10-14.9%) of acute malnutrition and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Other provinces recorded Alert levels (GAM 5-9.9%) of acute malnutrition, except Ngozi, Muramvya, and Gitega, where Acceptable levels (GAM<5%) were recorded. GAM prevalences for most districts ranged between Acceptable (GAM<5%) and Alert (GAM 5-9.9%), but some districts of the northern and eastern livelihood zones, including Kirundo (11.2 percent) and Gisuru (11.1 percent), recorded a Critical level of acute malnutrition. The worsening nutrition outcomes are due to reduced food access arising from below-average crop production associated with floods and overflow of Lake Tanganyika, below-average income earning opportunities, and increased acute food insecurity.

    The Northern Lowlands livelihood zone: Over the past three consecutive seasons, crop production and purchasing power have significantly decreased in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone, particularly affecting for poor and very poor households. The below-average crop production is attributed to rainfall deficits, while below-average purchasing power has been linked to above-average food prices, lower labor wages compared to other areas, and the closure of the border with Rwanda. On a positive note, remaining 2024 Season A food stocks and near-average Season B harvests have improved food consumption, sustaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes during the current harvest period. 

    The Eastern Lowlands and Eastern Dry Plateaus livelihood zones: Food consumption during both the harvest and post-harvest periods has improved substantially in these livelihood zones due to near-average 2024 Season A food stocks and near-average 2024 Season B harvests, along with a 40 percent increase in labor wages compared to the previous year, access to near-average cross-border opportunities with Tanzania, and stabilized food prices. These favorable conditions are expected to result in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes. 

    Imbo Plains livelihood zone: Following the crop destruction by floods during the 2024 Season B, households have become atypically reliant on the market for food access during the second half of the year. Alongside increased food prices due to higher crop production costs, shortages of fuel, and rising transportation costs, below-average labor opportunities have further diminished households’ purchasing power. As a result, the area is anticipated to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.


    Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025

    The next step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to develop evidence-based assumptions about factors that affect food security conditions. This includes hazards and anomalies in food security conditions that will affect the evolution of household food and income during the projection period, as well as factors that may affect nutritional status. FEWS NET also develops assumptions on factors that are expected to behave normally. Together, these assumptions underpin the “most likely” scenario. The sequence of making assumptions is important; primary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to weather) must be developed before secondary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to crop or livestock production). Key assumptions that underpin this analysis, and the key sources of evidence used to develop the assumptions, are listed below.

    National assumptions

    • The September to December 2024 short rains season in Burundi is expected to be below average, influenced by La Niña conditions forecasted by NOAA CPC ENSO during the fourth quarter of the year. The anticipated rainfall deficit is likely to reduce the cultivated area for the 2025 Season A and overall crop production, specifically affecting the semi-arid areas such as the Northern and Eastern Lowlands, Eastern Dry Plateaus, and Imbo Plains livelihood zones.
    • Due to expected below-average agricultural activities and decreased crop and livestock production due to below-average rainfall, labor opportunities are expected to be below average from September to December 2024. Poor and very poor households who normally engage in labor activities, representing around 40 percent of the total population, are anticipated to have reduced purchasing power and below-average food access from September to December 2024.
    • Despite food price stability in early 2024, inflation remains above 10 percent and is likely to rise during the lean period between September and January 2025. 
    • Burundi's continued decline in exports of cash crops and minerals is expected to worsen critical macroeconomic indicators, including the trade deficit, external debt, foreign currency reserves, and loans.
    • Low foreign currency reserves are expected to maintain the instability of the BIF and worsen official exchange rates to up to 80 percent lower than the parallel market during the analysis period. This is likely to decrease import capacity, prompting traders to increasingly rely on the parallel market, leading to price increases for imported items, including food and essential non-food items.
    • The shortage of fuel is expected to persist throughout the analysis period, driven by low currency reserves. However, fuel will be available from the unofficial market, where prices are two to three times above the official rates. This will increase food transportation costs and drive up food prices. 
    • According to FEWS NET’s price projections for Gitega market reference market, prices of locally produced staple foods are anticipated to be 30 to 60 percent above their five-year averages though early 2025. Bean prices (Figure 6) are expected to be 15 to 30 percent higher than last year during the projected period, while the price of maize (Figure 7) is projected to be around 10 percent lower than last year through September and around 10 percent higher than last year during the lean period from October 2024 to January 2025. These high food prices are driven by decreased food imports, expected unofficial food exports linked to BIF devaluation compared to the USD and regional foreign currencies, and increased fuel and transportation costs.
    • UNHCR is likely to facilitate the return of 20,000 persons from the nearly 300,000 refugees in neighboring countries between June 2024 and January 2025, with an average of 2,500 returners per month. Approximately 40 percent of the refugees are hosted in Tanzanian refugee camps, and most of the returnees are expected to be resettled in the eastern, northern, and southern parts of Burundi. 
    Figure 6. Gitega, bean integrated price projections
    Gitega, bean integrated price projections

    Source: Source: SIP/WFP

    Figure 7. Gitega, maize integrated price projections
    . Gitega, maize integrated price projections

    Source: Source: SIP/WFP

    • The intensification of intercommunal conflicts in eastern DRC is expected to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers in Burundi from 90,000 people in June 2024 to around 100,000 throughout the scenario period, with an estimated 1,250 new arrivals per month, according to UNHCR. 
    • Nutrition outcomes are likely to worsen to an Alert (GAM 5-9.9%) level of acute malnutrition in districts of the Eastern and Northern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zones during the lean period from October to December 2024. This deterioration is driven by reduced food access from the rapid depletion of 2024 Season B crop production, combined with below-average income access amid high food prices, specifically in semi-arid parts of Burundi. 

    Subnational assumptions for the Imbo Plains livelihood zone

    • Reduction in labor opportunities due to floods affecting oil palm plantation and processing activities, hotels, and restaurants along Lake Tanganyika and major rivers such as Rusizi, Dama, and Mutumbuzi is expected to result in below-average income. Consequently, around 30 percent of the area's total population, which depends on labor for both income and food access, is anticipated to experience below-average purchasing power.
    • Approximately 75,000 IDPs who have been affected by flooding are likely that their situation to remain stable through December 2024, following the normal dry season. Below-average rainfall is expected through the end of the year.

    Subnational assumptions for the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone

    • Access to cross-border opportunities is expected to remain below-average due to political tensions between Burundi and Rwanda through the projected period, further decreasing income-earning opportunities for poor and very poor households.

    Humanitarian food assistance

    National assumption

    • According to the WFP, humanitarian food assistance is expected to continue at the current year’s level throughout the projected period. Refugees are anticipated to receive around 70 percent of their monthly ration. Additionally, IDPs affected by seasonal floods are likely to receive cash transfers (CBT) meeting their full minimum monthly energy needs.

    Table 1. 

    Key sources of evidence FEWS NET analysts incorporated into the development of the above assumptions 

    Key sources of evidence:
    Weather and flood forecasts produced by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, USGS, the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California Santa Barbara, and NASAConflict analysis and forecasts produced by ACLED, Control Risks Seerist, Signal Room, Aldebaran, Warmapper, and other sourcesUNHCR report of repatriation and humanitarian assistance

    FEWS NET East African Regional Global Price Watch

    East Africa Price Bulletin May 2024

    Report on the ranking of countries according to their wealth in 2024.

    Produced by Global Finance

    Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) survey conducted by WFP August 2023
    Joint Government and United Nations System press release on the impacts of the El Niño phenomenonWFP humanitarian food assistance report to refugees and affected by floods and Tanganyika Lake overflow

    National Institute of Burundi Statistics (INSBU) report of inflation

    Burundi Inflation- May 2024 report 


    Projected acute food insecurity outcomes June 2024 to January 2025

    Using the key assumptions that underpin the “most likely” scenario, FEWS NET is then able to project acute food insecurity outcomes by assessingthe evolution of households’ ability to meet their minimum caloric needs throughout the projection period. Similar to the analysis of current acute food insecurity outcomes, FEWS NET converges expectations of the likely trajectory of household-level food consumption and livelihood change with area-level nutritional status and mortality. FEWS NET then classifies acute food insecurity outcomes using the IPC scale. Lastly, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate any areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of planned—and likely to be funded and delivered—food assistance.

    At the national level, the near-average 2024 Season B harvest is expected to provide stable food availability from June to September 2024. However, due to inflation and a lack of foreign currency, food import capacity will be below average, leading to reduced food availability from October to December. This is somewhat offset by 2024 Season C crop production for better-off and middle households with marshlands. Above-average food prices and below-average agricultural labor income will limit food access for poor and very poor households, especially in areas affected by La Niña. While food availability and access will reduce the GAM rate to acceptable levels (GAM < 5%) in near-average producing areas, some areas affected by flooding and below-average crop production will likely push nutritional status to an Alert level (GAM 5-9.9%), indicating Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    Refugees and IDPsRefugees, mainly from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war, will continue to face reduced humanitarian food assistance shortage. These refugees are hosted in five refugee camps localized in Ruyigi, Cankuzo, and Ngozi provinces and exclusively depend on humanitarian assistance for food access. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) acute food security outcomes are expected to persist through January 2025, and refugees are anticipated to receive around 70 percent of their monthly caloric needs due to humanitarian funding shortages. IDPs will continue to face highly limited access to income and remain heavily depend on market purchases for food amid high food prices. Given the anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance, many poor households will continue to face food consumption gaps despite expectations for declining staple food prices and seasonal improvements in the availability of food and income in surrounding rural areas. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes will persist for the recent flood-affected IDPs through January 2025, mostly located in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone. 

    Returnees will need about two years to restart their normal livelihood activities and will depend on the market for food access amid high food prices. As reported by UNHCR, around 75 percent of returnees have access to their land, but they generally require around two years to reach their typical livelihood. Once they exhaust the three-month humanitarian assistance received upon their arrival, returnees are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes through the projected period. 

    The Northern Lowlands livelihood zone: Below-average 2024 Season B crop production and below-average income access are expected to lead to below-average food access in the Northern Lowlands through the projected period. The closure of borders with Rwanda is anticipated to reduce income and food sources for poor and very poor households. La Niña conditions are expected to further decrease income from agricultural labor opportunities. Households are likely to resort to atypical sales of food stocks to cover school fees and 2025 Season A inputs (seeds and fertilizers) in September, while most households will be relying on the market to access food amid high prices. Reduced food access from own stocks and markets is expected to result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the lean period from June 2024 to January 2025. 

    The Eastern Lowlands and Eastern Dry Plateaus livelihood zones experienced a substantial improvement in food consumption during the post-harvest periods of June to September 2024 due to near-average 2024 Season B food stocks, along with a 40 percent increase in labor wages compared to the previous year, access to near-average cross-border opportunities with Tanzania, and stabilized food prices. These favorable conditions are expected to result in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes through September. Improved access to the 2024 Season C harvest in the Eastern Dry Plateaus is expected to mitigate acute food insecurity during the lean period of October to December 2024. However, reduced 2024 Season B food stocks, seasonal dependency on markets for food, increased food prices, competing expenses such as school fees and 2025 Season A farm inputs, and below-average agricultural labor incomes due to La Niña are expected to reduce food access to some extent, leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the lean period from October 2024 to January 2025 in the Eastern Lowlands. 

    Imbo Plains livelihood zones: Below-average incomes are expected to decrease purchasing power for poor and very poor households from June to December 2024, exacerbated by floods affecting crop production activities and non-agricultural labor opportunities in the Imbo Plains. During this time, most households will rapidly exhaust their own food stocks and rely on the market to access food amid high prices. Around the end of 2024, La Niña conditions are anticipated to further reduce agricultural labor opportunities and income for poor and very poor households. Thus, below-average income and food access are expected to lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the lean period from October to December.


    Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes

    While FEWS NET’s projections are considered the “most likely” scenario, there is always a degree of uncertainty in the assumptions that underpin the scenario. This means food security conditions and their impacts on acute food security may evolve differently than projected. FEWS NET issues monthly updates to its projections, but decision makers need advance information about this uncertainty and an explanation of why things may turn out differently than projected. As such, the final step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to briefly identify key events that would result in a credible alternative scenario and significantly change the projected outcomes. FEWS NET only considers scenarios that have a reasonable chance of occurrence.

    National 

    Event: La Niña conditions followed by near-average rainfall from October to December 2024

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: Near-average rainfall is expected to support average 2025 Season A agricultural activities, including land preparation, sowing, weeding, and harvesting. In turn, this is expected to generate near-average agricultural labor opportunities for poor and very poor households, which is their main income source. The average income access is likely to increase purchasing power during the lean period from October to December and support reducing the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes. 

    However, near-average rainfall is likely to cause flooding and overflow of Tanganyika Lake by the end of 2024, intensifying the rise in the water table that has been ongoing since 2023. Further flooding in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone would increase the number of IDPs and households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes.

    Event: Further devaluation of the BIF

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: A further devaluation of the BIF, beyond what is already anticipated, is likely to cause fast economic deterioration, leading to a significant reduction in food imports and a rapid increase in food prices. Poor and very poor households are likely to have limited purchasing power, especially during the lean period from October to December, increasing the number of households expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Event: Large-scale political and social disruption as legislative and administrative elections approach 

    Likely impact on acute food insecurity outcomes: As in 2015, localized political issues are expected to trigger popular discontent due to the disintegration of the economic system and reduced import capacity. Political parties may mobilize the population, leading to widespread insecurity and social disruptions before the legislative and administrative elections in May 2025. Increased insecurity could result in asset losses for affected households, restrict movement across provinces for labor opportunities and food access, and further decrease purchasing power. By January 2025, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes are anticipated in many areas.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Burundi Food Security Outlook June 2024 - January 2025: Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected in western and northern Burundi, 2024.

    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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