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Season A rainfall forecast likely to support average harvests, but poses risk of flooding and landslides

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • August 2019
Season A rainfall forecast likely to support average harvests, but poses risk of flooding and landslides

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Current and expected harvests are expected to sustain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through January 2020 for most of the population. In August, household stocks and market supply of staple foods from the Season 2019B harvest has seasonally improved food availability and access for most poor households. Due to above-average rainfall expected from September to December, another season of average to above-average crop production is likely in December 2019-January 2020. However, localized areas affected by flooding and landslides due to heavy rains are likely to experience worse outcomes.

    • The number of reported malaria cases has been declining in recent weeks, attributed to public health interventions. A 24 percent decline in reported cases of malaria was observed in the week ending August 11, 2019 as compared to the previous week, likely marking the early impact of a coordinated response to the outbreak. Given that incidence rates have declined below the outbreak threshold and response and prevention measures have been put in place, the impact of the disease is not expected to lead to deterioration in food security outcomes at the area level.

    • Burundian refugees continue to voluntarily return, but at a slower pace than last year, with 2,260 returning in July. The number of Congolese refugees living in settlements appears to have stabilized at 44,700. WFP continues to provide significant levels of humanitarian food assistance to newly arrived returnees and Congolese refugees, which is sustaining Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in these communities. Meanwhile, the number of IDPs in Burundi continues to decline. Many IDPs are engaged in agricultural activities in their host communities or receive assistance from relatives. They are likely to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2).





    • Malaria incidence remains high across the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 112,000 new reported cases, including 66 deaths, in the week ending August 11, 2019. These numbers represent a 129 percent increase compared to the same week in 2018. However, incidence has declined to below the outbreak threshold.
    • With September-December Season 2019A rainfall forecast to be above average, malaria incidence is likely to increase. In a typical year, malaria incidence peaks October-December. However, the recent 24 percent decrease in the weekly number of cases suggests that ongoing control measures are working. The malaria incidence is likely to continue declining due to those measures, and to remain below the outbreak threshold.


    • N/A
    • Given current forecasts of above-average rainfall from September to December, localized flooding and landslides are likely.


    • Voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania is ongoing. According to UNHCR, an estimated 74,000 Burundian refugees have voluntarily returned since September 2017. An estimated 184,000 Burundian refugees remain in Tanzania—54 percent of the total Burundian refugee population abroad. 
    • A recently signed agreement between Burundi and Tanzania would require the repatriation of about 2,000 Burundian refugees per week beginning October 1, 2019. Should the agreement be implemented, significant increases in human food assistance needs are expected.


    Favorable rainfall distribution in 2018 and 2019 has led to several consecutive seasons of average to above-average harvests since January 2018, despite some localized production shortfalls. As a result, household-level food stocks and market supply are currently at normal levels. Given an above-average rainfall forecast for the September-December period and current crop development in the marshlands, average to above-average C and A harvests are expected between now and January 2020. In marshland areas, including parts of Kirundo Province that faced Season B rainfall shortfalls, Season 2019C harvests are expected to begin in September. The C and A harvests will provide households with own food stocks, increase food supply in markets, and maintain normal levels of demand for agricultural labor—a key source of income for poor households. As such, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to be sustained through at least January 2020 for most of the population. However, given forecasts of heavy rainfall, some households in areas prone to flooding and landslides are likely to experience worse outcomes. Based on past trends, these households could experience moderate-to-severe crop loss, leading to reduced food availability and access and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the October-January period.

    According to WHO, malaria incidence in Burundi reached outbreak levels in early May 2019. After peaking in early June, week-to-week declines in reported cases have brought malaria incidence back below the outbreak threshold. According to the most recent updates, 112,000 cases were reported in the week ending August 11 (week 32), representing a 24 percent decline compared to the previous week. While this is still more than double the number of cases reported during the same week of 2018, this is less than the number reported in week 32 of 2017. During the 2017 epidemic, malaria incidence in week 32 was even higher than it is now, but had begun to decline due to a rapid and well-coordinated public health response. According to key informants and WHO, the Ministry of Health and partners are currently distributing free drugs and mosquito nets, deploying mobile health clinics, and undertaking awareness campaigns, among other interventions. The international community is reportedly playing a significant role through the provision of drugs and other activities. Although the situation remains concerning, it is likely that the mitigation and prevention measures since the WHO detected an outbreak in early June is now having an impact, as these measures did in 2017 when similar patterns were observed.

    Given current trends, it is expected that malaria incidence will continue to decline in the presence of a well-coordinated response. As such, food security is not expected to be impacted at the area level. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes are likely at the household level. Poor households are highly vulnerable to shocks that restrict food and income sources, and individuals affected by malaria are likely to be unable to work for short periods of time or may be compelled to make trade-offs between food and medical expenses, even as they experience increased health and nutritional needs.

    Burundian refugees have continued to voluntarily return, mainly from Tanzania, but at a slower pace than last year. In July, new returnees received a one-time package of a three-month ration, resulting in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes as the returnees re-establish their livelihoods. According to UNHCR, an estimated 16,000 returned in the first six months of 2019, equivalent to approximately 2,660 per month. In the last week of August, Burundi and Tanzania signed an agreement to repatriate about 2,000 Burundian refugees per week from Tanzania—mainly from the Nduta and Mtendeli camps—beginning October 1, 2019. Should implementation of the repatriation agreement move forward, this would affect approximately 184,000 refugees currently residing in Tanzania and would rapidly and significantly increase humanitarian food assistance needs over the next year and a half.

    The number of Congolese refugees living in refugee settlements has stabilized at an estimated 44,700, though more refugees continue to arrive and settle in urban areas. It is expected that humanitarian food assistance, coupled with limited access to harvests and livelihood opportunities, is sustaining Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in these communities. Meanwhile, as of July 2019, the number of IDPs present in Burundi was estimated at 109,000. This number has continued to decrease slightly over the past few months. Many IDPs are engaged in agricultural activities in their host communities or receive assistance from relatives. They are likely to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Events that may change the scenario

    In the event of a renewed outbreak of malaria, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes would be expected — particularly in the warmer zones of the Humid Plateaus, Eastern Arid Plateaus and Northern Lowlands — as more households would face reduced income-earning potential, tradeoffs between food and medical expenditures, and increased nutritional needs. While there have been no reported cases of Ebola in Burundi, a spread of the outbreak from neighboring DRC would likely cause a border closure, which could disrupt livelihoods activities and lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes. Current surveillance and prevention measures are ongoing, and include immunization, construction of treatment centers, and awareness campaigns.

    Figures This is a graph illustrating number of new reported cases of malaria in Burundi per epidemiological week, from the first week

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: World Health Organization

    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.

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