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Preparations for the 2021–2022 growing season A in the northeast and central-east of the country are tentative because the supplies available to farmers — particularly seeds — are insufficient following low production in the previous season. Against this backdrop, seasonal harvests in January 2022 are expected to remain below the five-year average.
Since the government declared a state of siege in the provinces of Nord-Kivu and Ituri, armed groups have changed their modus operandi and are acting as guerrillas in several villages, launching surprise attacks on the population. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 606,000 people have been displaced in these provinces over the past three months. These new displacements make life even more difficult for households who are forced to abandon their typical livelihoods just as the growing season resumes.
The lean season will peak in November and the harvests will arrive in January 2022. Some conflict areas in the east of the country will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, the central-east and southeast, where territories experienced an uninterrupted growing season, will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Areas in the north without food deficit will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
COVID-19 situation: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause concern, although the number of new cases recorded per day at the national level is decreasing. The average number of new cases recorded per day has decreased from 200 to 90 cases over the last 14 days.
The epicenter of the pandemic has moved to the east of the country (Goma, Bunia, Bukavu, Butembo) and the government has decided to ease some restrictions in Kinshasa, opening bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Statistics released on August 20, 2021 show that 54,009 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began.
The vaccination campaign resumed on Tuesday August 17 with the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Vaccination had been on hold since July 10 due to a lack of vaccines. However, on August 13, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) received a batch of 51,000 vaccine doses for an estimated population of 103 million. It should be noted that only about 81,910 people (0.8 percent of the total population) have been vaccinated in 13 of the country’s 26 provinces.
COVID-19 and the measures taken to halt it have affected the country’s economic growth, reducing livelihood opportunities for poor households, especially in urban centers. A survey conducted in July 2021 by the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo [Federation of Congolese Enterprises – FEC] in collaboration with the Financial Inclusion Fund in DRC (FPM) revealed that 71 percent of businesses had experienced a significant drop in revenue and showed that businesses continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fishing on the Kasai and Tshikapa rivers and tributaries: The local authorities banned fishing activities, a livelihood for local residents, on the Kasai and Tshikapa rivers from August 1 to 10, 2021. According to information released by the authorities, toxic products accidentally spilled in the tributaries of these rivers were polluting the water and destroying their fish fauna. This pollution is believed to have originated in Catoca, a diamond-processing mine in Angola. Water pollution and the destruction of aquatic fauna have affected the local populations in Ilebo, Dibaya, Lubwe, and the villages along these rivers and their tributaries. The riverside population was urged to refrain from drinking or using these waters and from consuming dead fish from these rivers until further notice. According to the National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT), this situation could exacerbate the already high prevalence of malnutrition in the area, as fish is the main source of animal protein here.
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR): According to the Ministry of Agriculture, PPR was discovered on August 16, 2021 in Kailo and Pangi in Maniema Province and in Dibaya, Dimbelenge, and Luiza in Kasai-Central Province. The local authorities believe that this epizootic disease has caused thousands of livestock deaths due to the lack of vaccines. This could have an impact on the household economy in these territories as small ruminants such as goats are considered to provide financial security, and are only sold when access to food becomes difficult, to buy other goods, or to pay for medical care.
Conflict and population movements and the humanitarian context: President Felix Tshisekedi has renewed the state of siege in Ituri and Nord-Kivu provinces for the fifth time and the National Assembly is expected to redefine the emergency decree to enable it to remain in force indefinitely. If this does not happen before the current extension expires, it will be renewed again.
The state of siege resulted in fewer militant attacks causing civilian deaths compared with the previous three months. In addition to this decrease in deadly incursions, State forces successfully recaptured militant-held areas, including at least 20 villages in Ituri Province and over a dozen in Nord-Kivu. Battalions and rapid response outposts were put in place and have reportedly prevented the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) or any other militant group from recapturing any of the villages, indicating that the intervention is working.
Since 2020, the ADF have been increasingly migrating from Nord-Kivu to Ituri, and this trend has accelerated since the state of siege came into force. The ADF is likely to continue reducing its activity in Nord-Kivu and to shift its main base of operations to Ituri, in particular Irumu. Its move to Ituri Province likely reflects the strengthening of military resources in the more remote areas of Beni, in Nord-Kivu Province.
In Ituri, the state of siege is currently focused on tackling ethnic militant group the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) in Djugu. The ADF is likely to succeed in capturing villages in the short term, until operations in Beni are complete and the military can begin concentrating its efforts in Irumu.
Multiple conflicts continue to force many Congolese people to flee conflict hotspots in search of more secure areas. Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika provinces experienced population movements between June and August 2021. According to OCHA statistics, more than 88 percent of these displaced populations are living with host families. This puts pressure on the host household’s ability to meet their food needs. In addition to taking care of themselves, they must also assist the displaced despite their limited livelihoods.
In Tanganyika: Of the 104,000 persons displaced in recent months, approximately 81,506 have subsequently returned — without the support of a resettlement program. They had been displaced due to recurrent conflicts between the Bantu and Twa peoples in Tanganyika (Kalemie and Manono) and Haut-Katanga (Pweto and Mitwaba), and the DRC armed forces’ ongoing military operations against the armed groups.
In Sud-Kivu: In addition to the violent clashes between armed groups in the Minembwe highlands, there are community tensions in the Kalehe highlands in the north of the province. According to OCHA, there are 1.4 million displaced persons in the province. In the last three months, 182,000 internally displaced persons have been recorded. Since June 2021, there have been visible tensions between the various armed groups and the DRC armed forces, who have made several appeals to the armed groups to lay down their weapons. This situation could degenerate into an armed confrontation if the armed groups do not respond to the call made by the military high command.
The revisions to the assumptions used to develop the FEWS NET most-likely scenario for the DRC Food Security Outlook from June 2021 to January 2022 include:
- Conflict and population movement: Given that the state of siege may continue indefinitely, FEWS NET expects the conflict between the ADF and the army to intensify. A prolonged state of siege would likely allow for significant progress in the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program (PDDRC-S).
- The situation in the area could improve with the support of Kenya and the United States. Battalions and rapid response outposts were put in place and have reportedly prevented the ADF and other rebel groups from recapturing villages. With the migration of the ADF to Ituri, it may reduce its activities in Nord-Kivu and shift its main base to Ituri, in particular Irumu. With the strengthening of military resources in the more remote areas of Beni causing rebel groups to move to Ituri Province, the ADF is likely to maintain a smaller presence in Nord-Kivu in the coming months and may continue to carry out attacks, but probably at a significantly reduced level.
- In other conflict areas: The intensity of conflict has remained unchanged over the last two months and continues to disrupt the livelihoods of populations in the provinces of Sud-Kivu, Kasai, Kasai-Central, Maniema, and Tanganyika, including during the current period when the growing season resumes. The security situation is therefore likely to remain the same for the remainder of the scenario period, with significant challenges to the resumption of the current growing season.
- Fishing on the Kasai and Tshikapa rivers: Given the pollution of the rivers and the ban on fishing in CD26, households that mainly make a living from fishing as a subsistence activity are expected to see a significant drop in their income.
- Staple food prices and market operation: Despite localized variations based on the dynamics of supply and demand in some areas of the country, prices of the main imported and local foods will remain stable overall in August, with typical seasonal variations in some markets from September onwards and a stable local currency.
- PPR: This viral disease, which affects cattle and sheep, was found in August in Kailo and Pangi in Maniema, as well as Dibaya, Dimbelenge, and Luiza in Kasai-Central and will likely result in significant losses among peasants’ livestock. This will have repercussions on their income at the beginning of the lean season, during which the sale of livestock is a reliable source of income to meet food and non-food needs.
- Road conditions and trade flows: Agricultural service roads are in poor condition, which could deteriorate with the heavy rains from September to December. This would mean that market supplies continue to be limited and territories become harder to access.
PROJECTED OUTLOOK UNTIL JANUARY 2022
The season B harvest was lower than average in most areas to the central-east and southeast of the country due to the low area planted and less productive agroclimatic conditions in places. As a result, household stocks will not last the two-month average consumption period. An early lean season is therefore expected at the beginning of September. This could lead poor households to resort to increasingly damaging and sometimes irreversible survival strategies, such as selling productive assets, and reducing the number of daily meals. Households that have lost their livelihoods due to conflict in Ituri, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, and much of Tanganyika will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Some populations who have not had access to land, including displaced persons, will be dependent on humanitarian assistance to improve their food consumption. The green harvests in December will improve household food consumption without necessarily changing the phase of the area. The central-eastern areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the end of the scenario period because they experienced a full growing season B, giving them access to their own produce. Despite the presence of refugees from neighboring countries (Central African Republic and South Sudan) in the northern provinces, which are usually more stable, they will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), since they are not experiencing a food deficit.
Households that depend on fishing and are affected by river-water pollution are likely to resort to other economic opportunities. Meanwhile, those whose livestock was affected by PPR will focus more on agricultural activities. However, they may experience a drop in income that will affect their food consumption until the next harvests. As a result, they will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).
La récolte de la saison B étant inférieure à la moyenne dans la plupart des zones de la partie centre-est et sud-est du pays, du fait des faibles superficies emblavées et des conditions agro climatiques moins performantes par endroits, le niveau des stocks des ménages ne pourrait atteindre la moyenne de deux mois de consommation. De ce fait, une période de soudure précoce est attendue en début septembre. Cela pourrait susciter au niveau des ménages pauvres, le recours aux stratégies de survie de plus en plus dommageables et quelques fois irréversibles comme la vente des actifs productifs, la réduction du nombre de repas quotidien et bien d’autres. Les ménages qui ont perdu leurs moyens d’existence à cause des conflits en Ituri, au Nord Kivu, au Sud Kivu et dans une bonne partie de Tanganyika resteront en situation de Crise (Phase 3 de l’IPC), certaines populations notamment les déplacées qui n’ont pas eu accès à la terre dépendront de l’assistance humanitaire qui pourra améliorer leur niveau de consommation alimentaire. Les récoltes vertes de décembre qui vont améliorer la consommation alimentaire des ménages sans forcément changer la phase de la zone. Les zones du centre-est resteront en situation de Stress (Phase 2 de l’IPC) jusqu’à la fin de la période de scenario pour avoir connu une campagne agricole complète en saison B leur donnant accès à leur propre production. Malgré la présence des réfugiés des pays voisins (RCA et Sud Soudan) dans les provinces du nord, habituellement plus stables resteront en Minimal (Phase 1 de l’IPC), car ne connaissant pas de déficit alimentaire.
Les ménages dépendant de la pêche et qui sont affectés par la pollution des eaux des rivières pourront recourir à d'autres opportunités économiques. En revanche, ceux dont l'élevage est frappé par la peste des petits ruminants vont se focaliser plus sur les activités agricoles. Cependant, ces dernières pourront connaître une baisse des revenus qui va affecter leur consommation alimentaire jusqu'aux prochaines récoltes. Et de ce fait, ils seront en Stress (Phase 2 de l'IPC).
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.