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Rains started late in some central and southern unimodal areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • December 2015
Rains started late in some central and southern unimodal areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2016
  • Key Messages
    • Staple food prices seasonally increased in surplus-producing areas as stocks, including those held on farm, were drawn down at the start of the lean season in November. However, despite a below-average harvest, prices have not risen very much, due in part to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) sales maize to millers in deficit areas and some recent decreases in demand from neighboring importing countries. 

    • Seasonally increasing agricultural labor demand in the central Rift Valley and nearby areas is providing income for purchasing food and covering essential non-food expenses. However, the delayed start of rains in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, and Tabora Regions may slow planting, reducing the availability of labor opportunities between now and February. Households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but they are likely to move into None (IPC Phase 1) with the start of the Msimu harvest in April/May.

    • The number of refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Nyarugusu and Nduta Camps in Kigoma Region have continued to increase, reaching 184,125 people in camps and transit centers as of December 15. This population is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) even with continued humanitarian assistance. 




    Central Rift Valley in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, and Tabora Regions

    • The Msimu rains started three to four weeks late. Total rainfall amounts thus far have been near average to above average. Thus, weeding and fertilizer application will likely be late, leading to less  demand for agricultural labor.
    • Crop production was below average during the May to July Msimu harvest. As a result, households began purchasing food from markets earlier than usual, but with less income from agricultural labor. Many households are collecting firewood and producing and selling charcoal, but prices for firewood and charcoal are low due to more supply on markets.
    • A Newcastle disease outbreak in September/ October killed off many chickens, and flock sizes are well below average. Housholds are currently rebuilding their flocks instead of earning income from chicken sales.


    • With the late start of rains, the harvest and the green harvest are likely to start later than usual The harvest will likely be below average if the typical February dry spell occurs while crops are flowering or otherwise having high water requirements. Relying on purchases with limited incomes, many households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the start of the green harvest in April
    • Flock sizes and income from chicken sales are expected to remain below average through March.

    Refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi and DRC in Kigoma Region

    • The total number of refugees and asylum seekers reached 184,125 by December 15. Ongoing political violence in both countries has resulted in continued displacement to Tanzania and other neighboring countries. Camp health facilities, housing, and water points are unable to fully accommodate the growing number of residents.


    • Access to basic services including health care, water, and shelter are expected to continue to be constrained, given the likely continued arrivals to the camps. Income to purchase food to supplement rations is also expected to remain low, as there are few income-earning opportunities in and surrounding the camps.


    Projected Outlook through March 2016

    Seasonal progress: In bimodal areas around Lake Victoria, harvesting of Vuli beans has started. Rainfall amounts and distribution were adequate for average growth of beans, and other crops are currently in late vegetative to the maturity stages. In northeastern areas, rainfall is ongoing, and crops are in the late vegetative stage. In the Southern Highland, rainfall started in the second week of November. In some central and coastal lowlands, rainfall was delayed for two to three weeks, but the rains had started by the fourth week of December, allowing for the planting of crops in most areas. Sporadic flooding occurred in localized areas in Mwanza and northeastern Tanga, but there was minimal damage to crops or infrastructure.

    Markets: Maize, dry bean, and rice prices stabilized in November as a result of increased market supply. Supply increased due to a combination of factors, including ongoing sales by farmers to pay for land preparation and purchasing agricultural inputs, the release of NFRA stocks to millers and traders in some deficit areas, recent harvests in Kenya reducing the demand for maize and rice exports since November, above-average rice imports from Asia, and below-average maize exports to countries in Southern Africa. Most prices are near their five-year averages. Prices are anticipated to increase seasonally during the November to February lean season. However, supply should remain fairly stable on most markets until the next harvest starts in February in bimodal areas and May or June in unimodal areas.  

    Dodoma, Shinyanga, Tabora, and Singida Regions: As a result of the below-average June/July harvest in the Rift Valley, poor households started purchasing food from markets in August, three months earlier than usual. Many households are collecting firewood and selling charcoal to buy food, but firewood and charcoal prices are low due to higher supply on markets. The need for labor to attend their own plots and the need to procure agricultural inputs will result in households remaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until March when the green harvest starts. By April or May when the main dry harvest starts, households should be able to afford all of their food and non-food needs without using coping mechanisms. However, if prices increase abnormally during the lean season or if the February dry spell were extend much longer than usual, low production could lead to low labor demand, risking households once again moving into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of any outside assistance. Despite stable food prices from October to November, prices were between 65 to 100 percent above last year when prices were quite low, but most were near their five-year averages in November. Households in high-potential midland areas are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and their move to None (IPC Phase 1) from increasing casual labor incomes has been delayed by the late rains and associated late harvest.

    Northeastern, bimodal areas: Land preparation for the Vuli season has provided income-earning opportunities to poor households who earn income from agricultural labor. Additionally, recent harvests in Kenya have reduced the demand for maize and rice exports, seasonally increasing the supply of maize and rice. However, maize prices remained 57 to 88 percent above the 2014 prices, in which production was near average in these areas. Poor households are expected to move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to None (IPC Phase 1) in January with the consumption of green Vuli crops.

    Asylum seekers and refugees in Nyarugusu and Nduta Camps in Kigoma Region: The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Kigoma Region has continued to increase as a result of ongoing violence and political instability in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of December 15, the number of refugees in both Nduta and Nyarugusu Camps reached 184,125 people, according to the Unite Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with additional 200 people at transit camps. The newly displaced refugees and asylum seekers have limited income sources and largely depend on humanitarian assistance for food and to meet their non-food needs. Given the ongoing violence in Burundi and the DRC is unlikely to cease, Tanzania will likely have further arrivals through March 2016 and afterwards. Health facilities, housing, and water are likely to remain constrained. This population will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) even with the presence of humanitarian assistance.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1


    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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