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Poor harvests in Pweto and Mitwaba due to limited agricultural recovery in insecure areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • June 2019 - January 2020
Poor harvests in Pweto and Mitwaba due to limited agricultural recovery in insecure areas

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  • Mensagens-chave
  • National Overview
  • Mensagens-chave
    • Despite average harvests at the end of this growing season, June marks the harvest period throughout the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The availability of basic commodities will improve with earlier than usual lean periods: August for the northeastern and central-eastern parts of the country and September for the southeast.

    • Uncertainty in the last three months in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu, the Djugu territory in Ituri and the Uvira territory in South Kivu, as well as the persistence of the Ebola epidemic in Beni and Lubero, continue to disrupt agricultural activity, limiting people’s access to their livelihoods. This situation could compromise agropastoral activities in the eastern part of the DRC in the medium term.

    • The low food availability associated with recurrent epidemics has had a significant impact on the nutritional situation in the DRC. According to the National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT), 57 health zones (11 percent) have been on nutritional alert in the first quarter of 2019, including 43 health zones (75.4 percent) in the Kasai, Kwango and Kwilu regions. Analysis of the three previous quarters shows sharp fluctuations and a nutritional situation that is far from under control, despite the response from health services.

    National Overview


    Current Situation

    Economic environment: There have been significant fluctuations in the DRC in recent years. Economic conditions have been unstable due to insecurity, though there has been an upward trend in production and income in the mining industry. In the last quarter, the country recorded a budget surplus of 18,832 million CDF in February 2019 (close to the average of the last 10 years), according to global macroeconomic models and forecasts by Trading Economics analysts.

    According to the same sources, food inflation in the DRC is stabilizing and is expected to reach 6 percent by the end of the second quarter of 2019 and 4.2 percent in the next 12 months.

    However, government revenues have declined by almost a quarter compared to last year, undermining the Government's capacity-building efforts in the provision of basic services. At the national level, several humanitarian response operations will mobilize significant resources in political, military and economic efforts.

    The Ebola epidemic: Between late April and early May 2019, 76 health areas in 14 health zones reported new cases, representing 47 percent of the 163 health zones affected to date. Nine new confirmed cases of the Ebola virus were reported on 29 May 2019, with three of them reported in Katwa, two in Mabalako, two in Beni, one in Kalunguta and one in Vuhovi. Until now, the presence of Ebola has had a very limited effect on food security in the area. Civil unrest remains the main cause of food insecurity in Beni, Butembo and Ituri. The epidemiological situation as at 22 June 2019 showed 2,239 registered cases, of which 2,145 had been confirmed and 94 suspected, with 1,506 deaths. This represents a fatality rate of 67 percent.

    The epidemic began in August 2018 around Beni, Mangina (North Kivu) and Ituri. The majority of cases today come mainly from sensitive areas located in the Katwa, Mandima, Butembo, Musienene, Beni, and Mabalako health zones. Ongoing insecurity makes it difficult for humanitarian organizations to access some of these areas. In early May 2019, for example, interventions were temporarily suspended in Butembo and neighboring health zones following civil unrest. The epidemic is evolving in a particularly complex and challenging environment. Ongoing insecurity remains a major concern, with Ebola treatment centers and other key intervention facilities vandalized in Katwa and Butembo. In addition, while previous epidemics were limited to rural areas and therefore easier to isolate, this epidemic is located near a high-traffic border region, raising concerns that the epidemic could spread to neighboring countries.

    Insecurity and conflicts: Insecurity in North and South Kivu, due to ongoing fighting, is fueled by the presence of around 130 armed groups who are often seeking to take control of lucrative mining operations and other natural resources. The provinces have witnessed killings, rapes, mutilations, and other atrocities against civilians. The widespread violence, largely attributed to armed groups, has led to massive population displacements. In North Kivu, clashes between armed groups and the Congolese armed forces have resulted in the displacement of more than 40,000 people this year in Masisi. World Food Programme (WFP) operations in the region are currently suspended due to ongoing insecurity. In South Kivu, armed clashes have resulted in the displacement of some 50,000 people this year in the Uvira and Fizi territories. There are also serious human rights violations and risks of forced recruitment into armed groups in the province, all of which contribute to displacement, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The same province has also experienced intercommunity violence, particularly increased conflict before the December 2018 elections, and hosts more than 40,000 refugees from neighboring Burundi.

    According to humanitarian sources indicating a return rate of 80 percent at the end of April in northern Beni territory, more than 12,000 people fled the Kibele region to Kamango and Nobili following a series of armed incursions since March 2019.

    Also noteworthy in the Masisi territory are the difficulties of access to humanitarian aid following heavy rains, the destruction of the Mbitsi bridge, and the continuation of military operations in the region.

    In Kasai, despite authorities regaining control of much of the region, ethnic tensions and political conflicts persist. And for those who have returned home, the destruction caused by years of fighting requires substantial humanitarian assistance.

    Intercommunity tensions have led to conflicts and population displacements throughout the DRC, but especially in Ituri and Tanganyika provinces.

    Seasonal forecast: Precipitation in the north, northeast and central east of the DRC is estimated to be above average during the second season B from March to June 2019, with estimated average areas. This situation bodes well for normal harvests from June 2019, with an improvement in food availability in the areas mentioned.

    In addition, excessive rainfall in some parts of the region, particularly in the agropastoral mountains of South Kivu, has caused landslides, flooding in the lowlands and soil erosion, disrupting the normal crop cycle.


    The most-likely scenario for June 2019 to January 2020 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

    • Growing season: In the first scenario period from June to September 2019, taking into account the cumulative rainfall in the north, northeast and central east of the DRC, normal harvests should be expected from June 2019, with an improvement in food availability in the aforementioned areas.

    Despite favorable seasonal forecasts for growing season B, predictions of excessive rainfall in the region, particularly in the agropastoral mountains of South Kivu, could result in landslides, flooding in the lowlands and soil erosion, thus reducing any prognosis of good harvests in this area.

    In the second period of the scenario from October 2019 to January 2020 – which corresponds to the start of season A in the northeast and central east – since no delays in rainfall have been reported, planting of the main food crops will take place as usual in mid-September.

    • Economic environment: Despite significant fluctuation in recent years and unstable economic conditions due to insecurity, production and revenues in the mining industry may continue to rise.
    • Markets: Despite the presence of the Ebola epidemic, supply chains of basic foodstuffs in affected areas will continue as normal. The current limited availability in the Beni area will be compensated with supplies from neighboring areas, particularly Lubero. Throughout the rest of the eastern region, markets will operate as normal during the season B harvest period and prices will remain stable.
    • The Ebola epidemic: Given the intensification of the Ebola epidemic, with 76 health zones affected in a particularly complex environment of sociopolitical conflicts, ongoing insecurity will make it increasingly difficult for humanitarian organizations to access some of the affected areas, particularly in Katwa, Mandima, Butembo, Musienene, Mabalako, and Beni.
    • Regional instability: Despite authorities regaining control of much of the Kasai region and some armed groups surrendering, ongoing ethnic tensions, political conflicts, and weak humanitarian assistance available to those returning from or evicted from Angola after losing so much, could lead to remobilization or even new displacement crises in the coming months. A similar situation is observed in other parts of the country, including Mai Ndombe, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Upper Katanga, with community conflicts and conflicts between armed groups making these protracted crisis areas unstable.
    • Humanitarian assistance: Access to humanitarian assistance will remain difficult in eastern regions affected by conflict given the challenges in reaching humanitarian actors on certain roads controlled by armed groups. Also, access to humanitarian assistance will be limited for households affected by the presence of the Ebola virus in North Kivu and Ituri due to the reluctance of some organizations to intervene in these Ebola-affected areas for fear of being regarded as agents of the Ebola response, hunted down and abused by armed groups. As a result of these conditions, it is estimated that at least 25 percent of households will receive humanitarian assistance, which would cover at least 25 percent of their calorie needs.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In June – which corresponds to the harvest period in the northeast, central east and southeast – estimated average production would be enough to ensure food availability in the three areas mentioned. Given the estimated below-average level of production, the lean season in these areas should occur earlier than usual. The situation should remain relatively stable in June and July and agricultural households will depend mainly on their own production. Scarcity may arise between August and September, forcing households to start buying from the market to access basic foodstuffs.

    Following large harvests in June, northern DRC should be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from June to September 2019, while the northern part of Maniema, Sankuru, Lomami and the whole of the former Katanga region may remain under Stress (IPC Phase 2). The three Kasai provinces, Tanganyika, North Kivu and part of Ituri and Maniema will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with season B crops estimated to be below average.

    Between October 2019 and January 2020, the peak lean season period in eastern DRC, the situation for households throughout the area will become increasingly difficult with limited access to food due to stock depletion. The December green harvest is predicted to provide relief to populations that have begun to develop often damaging and irreversible coping strategies.

    During this period, besides being at the peak of the lean season, households will receive the December 2019 green harvests, which should improve food consumption across the east. Much of northern and central DRC, including Lower Uele, Upper Uele, Tshopo, Sankuru and Lualaba, should be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, while the situation in south-central and the southeast, mainly Maniema, South Kivu and the former Katanga region, may evolve into Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalResumption of hostilities between armed groups on the one hand and militia and the national army on the other Renewed population displacement that would weaken and/or destroy recovering livelihoods.

    Proliferation of plant pathologies and the invasion of the armyworm

    Declining production in this deficit region – farm households in this part of the region could have trouble accessing food. 
    NationalClimate disruptions


    Excess and/or insufficient/delayed rains would have an impact on the growing season and, ultimately, agricultural production and may exacerbate flood damage.

    NationalContinued deterioration of agricultural feeder roads during the upcoming rainy season 

    Negative impact on the area which could weaken trade between territories. 

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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