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Increasing civil insecurity expected to disrupt access to food and income for the poor

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • May 2015
Increasing civil insecurity expected to disrupt access to food and income for the poor

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The election crisis and related violence continue to drive large-scale population migration to neighboring countries, primarily Tanzania and Rwanda. According to UNHCR estimates, over 90,000 people have fled Burundi since mid-April. 

    • Despite ongoing protests in Bujumbura, security remains relatively stable in rural areas. However, large population outflows from western provinces suggest further deterioration is likely in these areas. Increasing socio-political unrest is expected to disrupt livelihood activities in the coming months,   reducing access to food and income for the poor. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is likely in areas affected by election-related civil insecurity.








    • The political crisis driven by upcoming national elections and opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plans to seek a third term continues to cause civil unrest and population displacement.
    • Despite growing mobilization of civil society and pressure from regional leaders and the international community, President Pierre Nkurunziza refuses to withdraw his candidacy in the upcoming national elections. Diplomatic initiatives and mediation efforts for peaceful resolution remain unsuccessful. The crisis is likely to continue in the coming months with an increasing likelihood of escalation of violence and unrest in rural areas.


    • Growing political instability continues to drive large-scale population migration from Burundi to Tanzania (47,900), Rwanda (27,700), the Democratic Republic of Congo (9,700), and Uganda (6000) due to increasing fears of an outbreak of conflict. Over 90,000 people have fled Burundi since April 2015.
    • Population outflows from Burundi are expected to continue. UNHCR estimates the refugee population will reach 200,000 by September 2015. The majority of refugees are likely to remain dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet essential food and non-food needs.

    Projected outlook through September 2015

    Political violence and civil unrest continue in Bujumbura and peripheral districts after a failed military-attempted coup on May 13. Despite growing public mobilization against a third term, President Pierre Nkurunziza has not withdrawn his candidacy in the upcoming national elections. Pressure from the international community for a peaceful resolution and diplomatic efforts to forge a dialogue between the government and opposition leaders remain unsuccessful.  Growing political instability and violent protests in Bujumbura continue to cause large-scale population outflow from Burundi. As of the end of May, roughly 91,000 people have migrated from Burundi to neighboring countries, primarily Tanzania (47,900) and Rwanda (27,700) since April, according to UNHCR estimates. Although current information on the refugee response suggests the main driver of displacement is fear of violence rather than food security, most new arrivals migrated with few productive assets and are settling in refugee camps. With limited or no access to income generating opportunities, these populations rely largely on humanitarian assistance to meet basic food and non-food needs.

    Areas of most concern are provinces along the western border including Cibitoke, Bubanza, Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura Rural, Bururi, Makamba, and the northeastern provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga. These provinces have been identified by the humanitarian community as areas with the highest risk of escalating socio-political unrest and violence. Findings from a recent FEWS NET assessment in Kigoma, Tanzania suggest that the majority of refugees arriving in Tanzania are migrating from western provinces on Lake Tanganyika. Continued population outflow from these areas suggest further deterioration in the short-term.  

    Average rainfall since in late April has enabled crop development during critical crop growth phases where grain filling had started. This is expected to have a positive impact on Season B harvests in June. However, an expansion of political violence to rural areas would likely disrupt harvesting, reducing access to food for poor households.

    Prices of the main staple commodities stabilized in most markets in April compared to March. However, prices remain much higher than the five-year average. Cassava flour prices, for example, are between 11 and 40 percent above the five-year average. In Muyinga market, a key market in the northeast, cassava flour prices are 26 percent higher compared to average.

    Currently, households in most livelihood zones face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity due to average and above-average Season A harvests.  However, poor households in the Plateaux Humides Livelihood Zone, will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity until Season B harvests in June due to above-average staple food prices during the lean season. Given expectations that the election crisis and related violence will continue with increasing unrest in rural areas, security related disruptions to harvesting, access to markets, and labor opportunities are expected cause a decline in access to food and income for poor households. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is likely, particularly in areas of concern. 

    Figures Seasonal calendar of typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar of typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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