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Season A (in Northeast DRC) and season B (in Central East DRC) began with the sowing of staple crops such as maize, groundnuts and beans in March 2018. Farmers are currently maintaining sown farmland ahead of the upcoming harvest, which is expected to begin in these parts of the country in June 2018.
Fall armyworm is continuing to damage economically important crops, especially maize. There have been confirmed infestations this season in Eastern DRC (North and South Kivu and Tanganyika Provinces), where the pest is reported to have accounted for more than 50 percent of losses. There have been no far-reaching eradication efforts. Fall armyworm has reappeared in areas where other plant pathologies – especially banana bacterial wilt and cassava brown streak virus disease – remain uncontrolled.
Heavier than usual rainfall in some parts of Tanganyika Province (Kabalo, Nyunzu, and Kalemie) could affect growing cycles and yields for some crops such as maize and cassava, and reports suggest that low-lying areas dominated by market garden crops have flooded. This situation could affect flowering and the spread of plant diseases, while lowering the fall armyworm infestation level. In addition, these circumstances could result in smaller than usual harvests.
A fresh outbreak of violence in early March in Djugu, Ituri Province, has seen security and humanitarian conditions worsen significantly. Around 425,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been displaced to nearby Irumu, Aru, Mahagi, and the city of Bunia as a result. Deprived of their livelihoods, these people will be unable to continue farming during the current season A. This area of Ituri Province remains in a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation.
Agriculture: The current period marks the beginning of season B in Central East DRC and season A in the Northeast of the country, when the main staple crops are in flower and heavy rainfall in the area is likely to hamper crop growth. Should such rainfall continue, it is likely to adversely affect staple crop yields and total production output in the region.
In addition, in an effort to stamp out the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion, some parts of Kasai Province have been declared a military operation zone since March 2018. The zone includes Bena-Leka, Demba, where around 1,000 households have been deprived of their livelihoods in the midst of season B. Crops have been sown but farmers are unable to maintain their fields because of restrictions on movement. If the crops are left unattended, production is likely to be minimal or even non-existent, leaving households with little food to eat in the coming months.
Population displacement: Since mid-December 2017, violent conflicts between the Hema and Lendu communities in Djugu, Ituri Province, have caused mass population displacement. Provincial government figures indicate that 400,000 people have fled their homes, while 39,000 people have crossed the border into Uganda. Although more security forces have been posted to Djugu, the province is experiencing a fresh outbreak of violence and villages are being destroyed. The situation is developing all the time and the violence is moving toward Irumu and the city of Bunia. Population displacement means that season A and B harvests are likely to be meager in this area.
Violent conflicts have displaced people throughout the country; there are around 4.5 million IDPs across DRC as a whole. The highest concentration can be found in North Kivu (24 percent), followed by Kasai (19 percent), Tanganyika (16 percent), and South Kivu (15 percent), with the remaining 26 percent dispersed across northern and western provinces.
In addition, approximately 541,153 refugees have entered DRC from neighboring countries – Rwanda (43 percent), Central African Republic (32 percent), South Sudan (17 percent), Burundi (8.8 percent), and others (0.2 percent).
Agroclimatology: In the first 10 days of March, torrential rains hit the area around Kalemie on the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Large parts of the province are still recording localized, heavier than usual rainfall, which is likely to decimate homes and crops in and around Kabalo and Nyunzu.
Nutrition: Action Against Hunger (ACF) and the Ministry of Health’s National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT) carried out a nutrition survey in health districts in Kasai Province affected by the current crisis. The survey found Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates of 11 percent and 3.1 percent respectively.
Humanitarian access: According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), humanitarian organizations are struggling to reach people in Djugu, Ituri Province, because of the security situation and roadblocks on the route between Bunia and Djugu. Moreover, the brutal acts of violence perpetrated by armed fighters make operating in these areas extremely risky. The violence escalated in February this year, leading to dozens of deaths, multiple human rights violations, and mass displacement in Irumu, Mahagi, Aru, and the city of Bunia.
The current situation has not affected the assumptions used for the most likely scenario for February to September 2018.
A large part of the season A harvest was destroyed during violent clashes in Ituri Province, Northeast DRC, in January 2018. Many more people were displaced to Irumu and the city of Bunia amid a fresh outbreak of violence at the start of season A in March 2018. Taken together, these two successive occurrences in one of the province’s key farming areas are certain to adversely affect agriculture in Ituri and cause output to be significantly lower than expected in this part of the country. In the first part of the period (February to May 2018), the region will suffer severe food shortages because of compromised harvests and will remain in a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation.
In addition, harvests are expected to be poor in Tanganyika Province as heavy rainfall adversely affects staple crop production, exacerbating the situation in an area already reeling from production shortages in previous seasons.
From June to September 2018, harvest shortfalls are expected to make the lean season arrive in the Northeast and Central East earlier than normal, in July 2018. This will place vulnerable communities in even greater need of food assistance.
This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.