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Season A harvest prospects have worsened, as crops have not sufficiently recovered after a poor and erratic start of the rainfall season inhibited crop development at the critical growth stages. As a result, maize and bean production is expected to be significantly below average, particularly in the north and east. Typically, the Season A harvest only comprises 35 percent of Burundi’s total annual production; this year, households will likely rapidly consume or sell off their food stocks within 4-5 weeks. Due to the poor harvest, coupled with associated reductions in labor income and high food prices, households in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones will likely have food consumption gaps and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during the lean season period of April and May 2023.
Food stocks from the 2023 Season A harvest and imports from Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia have stabilized the month-on-month trend in staple food prices. However, the prices of maize and beans remained atypically high in December, ranging from 30 to 120 percent above last year and 35 to 50 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 are all contributing to elevated food prices. On an annual basis, the inflation rate in Burundi reached 27 percent in December, while food inflation was nearly 40 percent; this level of inflation has been sustained for two consecutive months. Staple food prices are expected to remain high through the lean period and will likely extend until February 2023.
The poor start of Season A also has implications for Season B crop production prospects, as harvesting of Season A crops will be completed up to two months later than usual. There is a narrow window for planting Season B crops due to the start of the dry season in June. The reduction in Season B cultivated area is expected to be around 15 percent as Season A crops will continue to occupy the farmland until March. Moreover, high food prices – especially beans – are expected to place pressure on poor households’ expenses and limit their financial access to seeds for Season B planting.
WFP assisted 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers with an approximate 70 percent ration of in-kind food and an approximate 30 percent ration equivalent of cash-based transfers in December. Food assistance has also been provided to around 1,400 Burundian returnees, with approximately 60 percent receiving a one-time relief package consisting of three months of in-kind food and 40 percent receiving a three-month ration equivalent via cash-based transfers. Food assistance is likely resulting in None! (IPC Phase 1!) among these households. However, around 14,000 returnees that have arrived since April 2022 missed the planting period for Season B, and they have likely depleted their one-time assistance package. This group will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the 2023 Season A harvest, the primary food source and income.
This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.