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Continued heavy rainfall impacts crops and livelihoods, though harvest prospects remain above average

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • December 2019
Continued heavy rainfall impacts crops and livelihoods, though harvest prospects remain above average

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Above-average rainfall continued in November, leading to extensive flooding, mainly in the Humid Plateaus, and landslides, mainly in the western Congo-Nile Ridge zones. This negatively impacted moisture-sensitive bean and Irish potato crops, but benefited maize, bananas, roots, and tubers. Overall, an above-average harvest is expected in December-February, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes anticipated through May 2020. However, areas affected by flooding or landslides will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse outcomes.

    • Prices of most staple foods remained stable in November, though prices of maize continued to increase. According to the consumer price index for food products published by ISTEEBU, food prices increased by 1.4 percent between October and November 2019 – a small increase during a lean period. Food prices were 6.5 percent higher in November 2019 compared to November 2018, mainly driven by the prices of bread and cereals, which were 14.8 percent higher.

    • Burundian refugees continue to return from Tanzania at a slower pace than the 2,000 per week planned by the Burundian and Tanzanian governments in August 2019. According to UNHCR, 409 Burundian refugees returned in the month of November – the lowest total since January. As of November, only one of the three transit centers was functioning. As a result, many new returnees will likely face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) or worse food security outcomes until May 2020.





    Persistent heavy rainfall across the country has led to further flooding and landslides, mainly in Cibitoke, Bubanza, and Bujumbura Rural and Mairie provinces. The worst flooding occurred in Bujumbura Rural and Mairie provinces, claiming dozens of lives and damaging or destroying hundreds of houses.  The worst landslide in Mugina Commune, Cibitoke Province claimed 36 lives, displaced approximately 1,709 people, and damaged roads and infrastructure.

    Given the above-average rainfall forecast for December, further flooding is likely to occur, particularly in marshlands in the Humid Plateaus and in poorly drained urban areas of the Imbo Plains. Landslides are also likely to reoccur in areas already impacted, as their soils remain highly saturated. These disasters are anticipated to result in increased displacement, though the overall number of IDPs is anticipated to decrease through May 2020.



    In the week ending December 8 (week 49), WHO recorded 164,186 new reported malaria cases, a 9.4 percent increase over the last weekly incidence rate recorded in late October, and a 25 percent increase compared to the same time period last year. Flooding and water stagnation present increased risk of malaria transmission.

    Despite the recent increase in incidence, the ongoing control campaign including distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and the reduction in rainfall anticipated in early 2020 are likely to reduce the incidence of the disease in future months, as happened in 2017.


    Heavy rainfall in November and December (Figure 1) caused significant damage to bean crops and Irish potatoes, but benefitted maize, cassava, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Even the zones that frequently face rainfall shortages (particularly Kirundo and Muyinga provinces) are expected to receive above-average harvests in December-January. As a result, the Season A harvest is likely to be above-average overall. However, heavy rainfall led to localized flooding and landslides that destroyed crops, houses, and infrastructure, and claimed dozens of lives. In Cibitoke Province, the  December 4 landslides in Mugina Commune resulted in 1,709 displacements and 36 deaths. In Bujumbura Rural and Mairie Province, flooding  displaced 389 people and claimed 15 lives during the week of 15-22 December. Furthermore, heavy rainfall has accelerated soil erosion across the country, which will negatively impact crop production potential in the long term, particularly in the Congo-Nile Ridge and Humid Plateaus zones.

    Average rainfall forecast for the February-May 2020 period is expected to lead to average harvests in May-June 2020. Furthermore, food prices are likely to decrease significantly in January 2020 when Season 2019 A harvests replenish market stocks. The outlook is particularly good for maize, the prices of which have been recently increasing the most. However, prices of beans – the main source of protein – are likely to remain above average due to damage from the heavy rainfall. Meanwhile, normal demand for agricultural labor will likely facilitate access to income during this period, expected to improve access to food through market purchases for most market-dependent poor households. Additionally, a reduction in flooding and water stagnation, combined with ongoing malaria control measures, is expected to significantly reduce malaria prevalence. Due to these factors, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are anticipated through May 2020.

    As of December 9, Burundi hosted around 48,000 camp-based Congolese refugees according to OCHA. Meanwhile, the number of IDPs has continued to decline, reaching 103,000 as of October 2019. This is mainly due to improving security conditions and livelihood options in their communities of origin, as well as permanent settlement in new locations. Due to uncertainty about security conditions with the upcoming elections in May 2020, the influx of voluntary returns from Tanzania is likely to remain low. As a result of ongoing assistance, these populations are expected to continue facing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes through at least May 2020.

    Figures Pentadal rainfall accumulation in Cibitoke Province compared to average, July-November (CHIRPS), early December (CHIRPS Preli

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    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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