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Slow recovery of the agricultural season in the Kasaïs despite continuing conflicts

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • August 2017
Slow recovery of the agricultural season in the Kasaïs despite continuing conflicts

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  • Key Messages
  • CURRENT SITUATION
  • UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2018
  • Key Messages
    • The sudden return of close to 18,000 Congolese refugees to the Kasaï region from Angola, due to approaching elections there, is exacerbating the already precarious situation in that conflict-torn area in which nearly 20 percent of the rural population has been displaced by multi-dimensional conflicts. This could mean increasingly poor food security conditions in this region in the months ahead.  

    • The size of the internally displaced population in the Kasaï region has grown by 24 percent since June of this year to 1,720,000 people. These populations will most likely intensify during the current growing season, which would prevent the timely start of farming activities for growing season A, for which preparations are already underway, with a major impact on food availability in the coming months. 

    • Since the initial outbreak in June 2017 in the Goma and surrounding health districts (Karisimbi, Nyiragongo, Buhimba, and at the North Kivu Provincial Hospital), the cholera epidemic has infected about 3788 people (Approximately 30 percent of all cases in the Karisimbi health district). The epidemic reached its height in July, which is a difficult time of year in the city of Goma, with limited access to a safe water supply. Without timely efforts to help provide local populations with access to a safe supply of drinking water, the epidemic is likely to spread to neighboring health districts. 

    • Based on a review of seasonal forecasts by NOAA, there should be average levels of seasonal rainfall in former Katanga province between September 2017 and April 2018. This is an opportunity for farming households to resume normal farming activities disrupted by the climatic anomalies in the form of rainfall deficits and untimely rains in certain parts of the region, even with the presence of fall armyworms.


    CURRENT SITUATION

     

    Agricultural situation: This time of year is devoted to land preparation across the southern DRC, which coincides with the lean season when food is in increasingly short supply. Despite forecasts predicting normal to below-normal rainfall activity in certain parts of the country, the restricted access of local populations in certain provinces to their livelihoods will affect the start-up of farming activities and, thus, crop production in these regions already destabilized by an unprecedented escalating crisis.

    Population movements: The approximately 24 percent jump in the number of displaced persons in the five provinces of the Kasaï region in the last three months, with the close to 420,000 new IDPs in Kasaï province plagued by ethnic fighting (stemming from the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion), has aggravated the situation for area households that are deprived of access to their livelihoods. The start-up of the growing season for these households, representing close to 20 percent of the farming population, remains in doubt. This may lead to smaller than average harvests. This is compounded by the sudden return of close to 18,000 Congolese refugees from Angola, of which the NGO ADSSE in Tshikapa has officially identified 8,000 such refugees.

    Nutritional situation: The findings of the nutritional survey conducted in health districts affected by the current crisis in Kasaï province put GAM and SAM rates at 11 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. These rates, both of which exceed WHO emergency thresholds, require emergency assistance to save lives and preserve the livelihoods of populations in crisis.

    Market situation: Markets have been functioning relatively normally in the first half of the outlook period (June through September). Current food prices on many markets are still fairly stable. On the other hand, loss of sources of income, low incomes, and loss of or lack of access to livelihoods are eroding the purchasing power of affected households. For example, a woman vendor selling cassava flour on the Tshikapa market in Kasai reported that it now takes her three to four days to sell a 100 kg bag of flour while, before the current crisis, she had been selling a bag a day.

    Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian organizations are experiencing difficulty raising funds, the results of which are that still very little food assistance is present anywhere in the region. Barely 30 percent of announced funding needs (US $64.5 million) have been covered. The World Food Program (WFP), recently implemented a food security assessment and has started to distribute emergency food rations to the 120,000 new identified IDPs in Kasaï province. U. N. agencies (the WFP, FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, etc.) and national and international NGOs are partnering with the government to provide continuing assistance to IDPs, returnees, refugees, and crisis victims.


    UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from June 2017 through January 2018.


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2018

    The success of attempts to launch the growing season (the 2017 A season) in the Kasaï region, mainly Central Kasaï and Kasaï Provinces (Kamonia and Kamako Territories) which are plagued by continuing outbreaks of conflict, remains in doubt. After the two previous catastrophic seasons (the 2016 A season and 2017 B season) in this area, the inability of a large part of the population in these unstable areas to engage in farming activities for the current growing season would mean very little crop production and very limited food availability. Poor households that normally rely on home-grown crops at this time of year and generate income from temporary on-farm employment will be dependent on market purchases between August and September of this year. Poor food access will likely result in inadequate household food consumption. The Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions in this area will continue, with some local populations having difficulty meeting their most basic food needs.

    There is expected to be a deterioration in household food consumption in the second half of the outlook period (from October 2017 through January 2018) with extremely limited food availability in this region and lack of sufficient household income to meet basic needs. At this point there will be a need for the involvement of the humanitarian community through food assistance programs as a potentially useful and appropriate means of bridging food gaps and providing households with a supply of food during this year’s lean season.

    In addition, the spontaneous return of close to 18,000 Congolese refugees from Angola in the last three months has only served to exacerbate the already precarious situation of residents of the Kasaï region in general and Kasaï and Central Kasaï provinces in particular. The delivery and assurance of continued assistance for the remainder of the outlook period (between October 2017 and January 2018) could keep food insecurity throughout the region at Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) levels. Without this assistance, the region could be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    For the most part, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in northern and southern areas of the DRC until the beginning of the lean season in October, when parts of these areas will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions.

    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.

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