Skip to main content

Stressed outcomes persist due to constrained purchasing power

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • August 2017
Stressed outcomes persist due to constrained purchasing power

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Total national Season 2017 B production is estimated to be above average despite localized areas of below-average production, particularly in Gihanga and Rugombo communes of Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces, respectively. Though some poor households across the country have likely moved to None (IPC Phase 1), the majority are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through January 2018. However, the most vulnerable, including in Gihanga and Rugombo, are likely to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the lean season.  

    • Bean production, the main food crop of Season B, was estimated to be about 10 percent higher than last year, causing July bean prices to fall to near five-year averages. However, other staple food prices did not decrease as significantly, mainly due to more modest production and macroeconomic constraints. 

    • As security and food availability improved across Burundi over the second quarter, population displacement has diminished. According to IOM, the number of IDPs fell by about 11,000 between May and June to approximately 204,000. Similarly, UNHCR reported the number of registered Burundian refugees in the region decreased by almost 7,000 between mid-July and mid-August. This trend is also partly due to Tanzania's revocation of the prima facie refugee status for asylum seekers. 





    ·    A depreciated national currency, foreign currency shortfalls, and the Government of Tanzania’s temporary ban on food exports all constrain Burundi’s capacity to import food and fuel. As a result, most staple food prices remain unseasonably high, limiting households’ purchasing capacity.

    ·    Elevated staple food prices, which are expected to increase even more with the lean season and further constrain household purchasing power, are likely to persist through January 2018. The macroeconomic situation is unlikely to improve as the long-awaited negotiations between the Government of Burundi and the exiled opposition have still not begun. 

    Localized areas of   Rugombo and Gihanga communes

    ·    In the plains areas of Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces, Season B rainfall was low, which led to below-average crop production. Poor households with no access to irrigation were unable to produce their own food. There are some limited income-earning opportunities, but they are unlikely to cover both basic food and non-food needs due to high staple food prices.

    ·    During the lean season, when food prices are expected to be highest, the most vulnerable poor households in these areas are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes since they will face growing food gaps due to their limited incomes. With an expected average harvest in December, food security is expected to improve, and households are likely to face None (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.


    A July crop assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, WFP, and FAO determined that total national Season 2017 B production was above average and about equal to 2016 B production. Total bean production, the key crop for Season B, was approximately 10 percent higher than last year. The production of bananas and cereals was estimated to be 1.4 and 3.3 percent lower, respectively, compared to last year, but these are not significant shortfalls. Roots and tuber production was estimated to be about five percent lower than 2016 Season B due to rainfall shortages, pests and/or diseases.

    However, the July assessment determined that in Gihanga and Rugombo communes, located in the Imbo Plains livelihood zone of western Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces, Season B crop production was poor in the non-irrigated areas. Poor households with no access to irrigation are still engaging in cotton cultivation and casual labor opportunities in nearby irrigated rice and vegetable production areas, which provides them some income for needed market purchases. Even before the Season B harvest, according to DHS surveys conducted in late 2016 and early 2017, both provinces had a relatively low prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) for children under five years of age (GAM weight-for-height z-score of 5.5 percent in Bubanza and 1.1 percent in Cibitoke). However, with elevated staple food prices, particularly for commodities besides beans, which are projected to typically rise during the lean season (October to November 2017), this income from casual labor may not cover all minimum food needs for poor households. As a result, the worst-affected households in these areas, and also possibly in localized areas of Muyinga Province where there was also lower Season B rainfall, are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Season C (July to September), which usually accounts for 15-20 percent of total annual crop production, is ongoing in most areas in Burundi, and above-average rainfall during the first two dekads of August is likely to support favorable crop maturation. In addition, the ongoing rainfall is allowing for timely land preparation for Season A, which is taking place despite the possibility that forecasts indicate there may be a slightly delayed rainfall onset in September. Regardless, the season is forecast to be average, which should lead to normal crop production as long as the Fall Armyworm (FAW) that was recently confirmed by the Department of Plant Protection does not significantly damage the maize crops, Season A’s dominant crop. (To date, there is no further information available on the level of FAW, but the infestation appears to be very minimal.) Sweet potatoes are also expected to perform better than last season. 

    According to WFP’s June report, a funding gap through December 2017 has forced the agency to cut general food distributions for the approximately 36,000 foreign refugees, primarily Congolese, living in camps in Burundi. Daily calories were reduced from 2,100 kilocalories per day to 1,900, the SuperCereal component was eliminated, and cash-based assistance was suspended. Since the refugees are completely dependent on WFP food assistance, they face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.

    Civil insecurity still persists, but contrary to expectations, the level of violence has significantly abated in recent months, reducing population displacements outside the country’s borders and internally. Improved food availability across the country and the Government of Tanzania’s refusal to grant prima facie refugee status to Burundian asylum seekers since January 2017 also seems to be contributing to reducing the flow of Burundian asylum seekers to Tanzania.  According to UNHCR, the number of registered Burundian refugees in the region decreased from 414,134 to 407,229 from July 14 to August 14, 2017. Similarly, according to IOM, the number of IDPs decreased from about 215,000 in May to about 204,000 in June. The Government of Burundi and the exiled opposition’s continued failure to meet in order to peacefully resolve the current socio-political crisis could, however, reverse current trends.

    The recent, favorable Season B crop production, the likely average Season C harvest, the current forecast for normal rainfall for the September to December period, and reduced violence country-wide suggest Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist through January 2018. However, with the start of the lean season in October, projected staple food price increases, and limited income-earning opportunities are likely to lead some additional poor households to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until at least the Season A harvest begins in December. However, the highest area classification in Burundi through January 2018 is projected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top