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Harvest reserves diminishing at the household level

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burundi
  • September 2013
Harvest reserves diminishing at the household level

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Harvest reserves are diminishing at the household level, as typically occurs at this point in the season. However, due to below-average Season B production in some localized areas, poor households in the Plateaux Humides zone currently face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity and are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels from October to December during the lean season begins. 

    • Although July marks the peak harvest period, prices for key staple foods either remained stable or increased compared to the previous month, due to below-average Season B production, the recent reestablishment of a food tax on several imported staple food items, and an increase in the value-added tax (VAT) on basic goods and services. 

    • Approximately 20,000 Burundians were expelled from Tanzania as illegal immigrants, adding to the existing refugee, returnee, and IDP population of approximately 170,000 people within Burundi. This new returnee population requires continued humanitarian assistance to be able to meet essential food and nonfood needs.





    • Around 20,000 Burundians return to Burundi after being expelled from Tanzania as illegal immigrants.
    • Staple commodity prices either remained unchanged or increased in July compared to June and are higher than average.
    • Unless humanitarian agencies increase budgets, the returnee population will not meet essential food and non-food needs.
    • Prices are expected to continue increasing at a faster rate than normal until the next harvests in December/January.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Land preparation and planting are expected to be completed by late September in most areas.  Rainfall is forecast to be average to above-average for the September to January rains, according to IGEBU (Institut Géographique du Burundi). Most household-level food stocks were replenished at normal levels after Season B harvests (June-July) and are seasonably declining at present. However, in the Plateaux Humides livelihood zone, which experienced below-average production and plant diseases (banana Xanthomonas wilt, cassava mosaic, and cassava brown streak), households already face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels.  Excess rainfall in certain areas of the northwest (Muyinga, Kayanza, and Cibitoke provinces) in March/April resulted in localized below-average crop production, which is likely to adversely affect food availability in the Congo Nile Crest during October to December. In marshland and lowland areas, the Season C harvest is expected between September and November. Land preparation and rice planting activities for Season A are also starting in many areas, and are providing relatively normal labor wages, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 BIF per day.

    Livestock have had reduced access to pasture and water due to below-average rainfall in May (25 to 50 percent of average) and the impacts of phytoplasma (a bacteria) on crop fodder. This situation has particularly affected Imbo plain, where livestock are predominant.  Following seasonal rains, pasture is beginning to regenerate.

    Prices of key staple commodities either remained stable or increased in most markets in July, even though prices normally decline following Season B harvests. In Bujumbura, July bean prices rose by 9 percent compared to last month and were 14 percent above the five-year average. Similarly in Ruyigi, bean prices increased by 5 percent compared to last month and were 14 percent above the five-year average. In comparison with June, prices for cassava flour were up by 14 and 9 percent, respectively, in Bujumbura and Ngozi, while they were up by 8 and 41 percent in the same markets compared with the five-year-average.

    Food prices typically begin to increase in September when market demand for seeds relating to Season A planting coincides with the depletion of household food stocks. Food prices continue to increase until late December when the first Season A harvests will become available. Over the next several months, food prices may increase at a slightly faster rate than is seasonally normal. This is due to the reestablishment on June 30, 2013 of a 19 percent tax on several imported staple food items, including cassava flour, beans, rice, maize flour, and Irish potatoes, and a 10 percent increase in the value-added tax (VAT) on basic products and services, adopted by the parliament on July 23, 2013. Higher prices may constrain food access for poor, market-dependant households.

    According to UNHCR, there were 166,994 persons of concern (e.g., asylum seekers, refugees, returnees, and internally displaced people) in Burundi as of June 2013, including an estimated 33,819 returnees who entered the country during the last quarter of 2012 from the Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania. In addition, about 1,200 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) entered Burundi following insecurity in their country. Around 20,000 Burundians were recently expelled from Tanzania as illegal immigrants, and need immediate humanitarian assistance from organizations as they rebuild their livelihoods. However, WFP – Burundi recently experienced a cut to its July to December 2013 funding, which led to a reduction in assistance programming. 

    Most households in the country face Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1), though poor households in the Plateaux Humides livelihood zone face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels as they are not able to meet food and non-food needs without using atypical coping strategies such as reducing quantity and quality of food consumed.  Food security will continue to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in this zone, while the Congo Nile Crest will be stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the period of October-December. The food security situation will likely improve countrywide in December-January, with Season 2014 A harvests.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a 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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