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Below-average rains and likely refugee pipeline deficits to accentuate food insecurity in 2017

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • December 2016
Below-average rains and likely refugee pipeline deficits to accentuate food insecurity in 2017

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The delayed onset and below-average Vuli rains (mid-September to December) point to a likely deterioration in food security for poor households in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Pwani, and Tanga regions as the harvest in March is expected to be significantly lower than normal. Reduced labor opportunities, coupled with rising food prices, are likely to constrain purchasing capacities and food access. Poor households are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during most of the scenario period.

    • Poor households in the unimodal-bimodal transition areas in Geita, Kagera, Kigoma, Mwanza, and Shinyanga face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity, following a slow and below-average start to the Msimu rains. Reduced agricultural labor opportunities have limited household income, and many poor households are unable to re-plant as a result. Below-average food production from the harvest in March/April 2017 is anticipated, which is expected to erode household capacities to access food and will extend market dependence.

    • As of early December, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported there are approximately 253,000 refugees in Kagera and Kigoma regions, of which about 192,000 are Burundian arrivals since April 2015. Food insecurity for all refugees is likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), from February onward, if there is no new funding to avoid the anticipated pipeline breaks.




    Northeastern, bimodal areas in  Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Pwani, and Tanga regions

    ·    Delayed mid-September to December Vuli rains caused substantial wilting of dry-planted maize and bean crops, resulting in re-planting during November.  Erratic rains during the first couple of months have also resulted in below average and staggered germination.

    ·    Seasonal rainfall deficits, coupled with erratic rains, are likely to reduce overall yields for cereals, pulses, and root crops, lowering food availability and on-farm labor opportunities. Poor household purchasing capacities are expected to be constrained due to this anticipated reduction in labor income.

    Transition areas in  Kagera, Kigoma, Shinyanga, Geita, and Mwanza regions 

    ·    A slow onset and below-average Msimu rains have reduced agricultural labor opportunities for poor households. These households are highly dependent on this labor income to make needed food market purchases through the lean season that will extend until the end of February 2017.

    ·    While the Msimu rains have started tentatively, the relatively longer growing period could mitigate, somewhat, early season deficits in localized areas if improvements occur. However, a significant amount of crop losses have already incurred in transitional areas, and food access is likely to be problematic for poor households.

    Refugee camps in Kagera and Kigoma regions

    ·    The influx of refugees from Burundi has risen to an average of 10,000 people per month, up from about 5,000 five months ago. This is occurring amidst constrained expansion in camp capacities and funding.

    ·    A substantial WFP pipeline break is expected in February 2017, if the current funding deficits persist, resulting in a precarious food security situation for the majority of refugees, who have limited alternative food and income sources.


    The mid-September to December Vuli rains have been well below normal, from the onset through mid-December, in most northeastern, bimodal areas in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Pwani, and Tanga regions. While the Vuli season contributes under 15 percent to overall national food production annually, it is the primary season in most parts of the northeast, and household stocks typically last until the Masika harvest in July. Poor rains suggest significant crop losses are likely to be incurred, while agricultural labor opportunities will continue to be limited, compounded by a sustained upward pressure on food prices. Food access for poor households is likely to significantly decline during the scenario period, attributed to an expected erosion in household purchasing capacities. Crop damage by Quelea quelea, small birds known for their attacks on small grain crops, also caused cereal losses in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region. However, the Desert Locust Control, East Africa, controlled the pest and mitigated the loss of about 710 hectares that were susceptible. Poor households are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the scenario period, with a brief respite from March, likely through April, during the harvest and immediate post-harvest periods.

    Similarly, Msimu rains have been poor in transitional areas, in parts of the northwest, in Kagera, Kigoma, Shinyanga, Geita, and Mwanza regions. Poor households are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the northwest, through February, and acute food security outcomes are likely to begin to improve at the onset of the Masika rains, as labor opportunities begin to improve. Currently, Msimu land preparation and planting is ongoing in the key unimodal southern and central regions of the country. Household food security is being upheld by sustained food stocks from the previous above-average harvest, combined with expanded labor opportunities at the onset of the season. Poor households outside the northwestern and southeastern areas remain food secure in None (IPC Phase 1).

    Staple food prices have started to rise significantly, after remaining fairly stable or decreasing from March through September. From October to November, the price of maize rose by 27, 5, and 16 percent in Arusha, Dar-es Salaam, and Iringa markets, respectively. The price of maize is highest in Dar es Salaam market, trading at Tanzanian Shillings (TSh.) 790 per kilogram in November, as compared to Tsh. 600 per kilogram in Iringa. Rising food prices are likely to accentuate declining food security among poor households in the northwest, northeast, and among refugee households, as labor availability becomes increasingly constrained by poor crop performance.

    The food security outlook for refugees is precarious, attributed to significant funding gaps that are likely in early 2017. As of December 7, UNHCR indicated there were more than 253,000 refugees in Nyarugusu, Mtendeli, and Nduta camps, and the Lumasi Transit Center in Kagera and Kigoma regions. An estimated 191,626 are Burundian refugees, who arrived after April 2015. The increase in the influx of Burundian refugees has been sustained over the past four months or so at a rate of 10,000 people per month, placing substantial pressure on camp amenities and on-going interventions. While a late funding intervention avoided a WFP pipeline shortfall in December, the likelihood of a substantial pipeline break beginning in February is considerable if no additional funding is obtained. Most refugees are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), supported by ongoing humanitarian assistance, but likely to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in February with the likely pipeline breakdown. 


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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