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Green harvests were disrupted by excessive rainfall in the central-eastern and western regions of DRC

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • December 2019
Green harvests were disrupted by excessive rainfall in the central-eastern and western regions of DRC

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through May 2020
  • Key Messages
    • The 2019–2020 growing season A began in early October with uneven rainfall throughout the eastern part of the country, which has been hit by conflict. This uneven rainfall could lead to a delay in the green harvests normally expected from mid-December due to disruption of the crop cycle caused by the excess rain in the central-eastern region. A slight shift in this harvest period by two to three weeks from January 2020 can therefore be expected.

    • In the countries of Southern Africa, the rainy season from October 2019 to March 2020 started with uneven rainfall, and cumulative rainfall will likely be below average throughout the remainder of the current growing season. This may result in poor agricultural production next season in these countries, which are surplus maize producers that normally export to DRC. Reduced food availability in southeastern DRC is therefore expected over the medium term.

    • Atypical price increases for maize flour and cassava flour were observed in the central-eastern region of the country, rising by about 30 percent between October and November 2019 in Kananga and Mbuji-Mayi. On the other hand, there was a 40 percent increase in the price of cassava flour on the Beni market in November 2019, compared to the average for the last three months. These are seasonal variations which have been exacerbated by low production in these areas in previous seasons.

    Current Situation


    Security situation and population movements: The current conflict and protracted insecurity situation in the DRC takes various forms in the eastern areas. In the South Kivu Province, the inter-ethnic conflicts reported since February 2019 have continued over the past two months and have already enveloped Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga in the Moyens Plateaux region. The attacks and destruction of entire villages by armed groups in different communities are accompanied by the destruction of fields and harvests and the theft of herds, thus reducing household food sources and incomes in affected areas.

    In South Kivu, there are currently reports of clashes between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), Rwandan fighters from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the National Congress for Democratic Renewal (CNRD). These clashes are causing significant population movements toward Zirhalo and the Kalehe highlands. In addition, a new coalition of armed groups in Walikale fighting FDLR forces reportedly driven from Kalehe has been reported. In the medium term, this situation could have a negative impact on harvests in affected areas, which will be approaching the end of growing season A and will experience difficulties with access.

    In North Kivu, the new offensives by FARDC against armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), provoked new waves of population displacement. Warnings issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in November 2019 indicate that almost 166,966 persons were newly displaced, compared with 178,466 who returned to Beni, Lubero and Rutshuru during the same period. These attacks are also having an impact on Ebola interventions.

    Growing season: According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts, excessive rainfall is expected to occur in the northwestern and central-eastern regions of the country, disrupting the crop cycle and delaying the green harvests usually expected in mid-December throughout the eastern region of the DRC. In both the north and the south of the country, rainfall was consistent, leading to the normal resumption of growing season A. However, in the provinces of Haut Katanga, Lualaba and Maniema (Kasenga) in the southeast, the late resumption of rains could lead to late harvests.

    In the northeastern, central-eastern and western provinces (Equateur and Mai-Ndombe), on the other hand, excess rainfall was recorded, damaging the normal course of the crop cycle due to floods and landslides.

    The Provincial Health Divisions in Tshopo and Bas-Uele reported that around 150,470 people were affected by flooding in those provinces, while there were more than 10,000 affected in Zongo. It is estimated that about 100 hectares of farmland was flooded in Tshopo Province. As a result, the agricultural recovery in season A is likely to be poor, with harvests also projected to be poor.

    Food availability and market situation: Owing to the low production levels in the last five growing seasons, which has limited availability on local markets, particularly in the Kasai Province, the lean season began early and corn flour prices in many markets remained high. This has been exacerbated by the shortage of this product due to abnormal growing seasons in countries to the south, which are the main suppliers of this product in the southern DRC.

    Indeed, some markets, such as Lubumbashi, get 70 percent of their supplies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, while these countries experienced a decline in production of more than 30 percent due to climatic reasons. This could continue to push prices up above average and reduce the availability of basic cereals on markets in the southeastern DRC.

    Ebola situation: The resurgence of armed groups and the frequent popular uprisings in Beni, Butembo and the surrounding areas calling for the departure of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) are hampering an effective Ebola response in the affected areas (Beni and Lubero) and normal continuation of agricultural activities. As of 4 December 2019, there were 3,313 recorded cases and 2,207 deaths, yielding a 67 percent mortality rate. If this situation persists, it is likely that the food security situation of poor households will deteriorate as a result of the sudden increase in the prices of the main foodstuffs observed at the end of November 2019, including cassava flour (40 percent) and beans (50 percent), which had been stable since August 2019. This could be due to the current lean season and the effects of conflicts in the region as sources of supply have remained the same.

    Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian assistance continues in the affected areas, including the Kasai Province, the Eastern Province, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika. Logistical and security access to populations in the highlands of Uvira, Fizi and Kalehe in South Kivu, as well as in the northern part of North Kivu, remains a challenge for humanitarian organizations. In addition, current assistance coverage remains low (below 25 percent). According to OCHA, some 443,000 newly displaced persons in Ituri Province had not received assistance by 30 November 2019.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation will not significantly affect the assumptions made in the projected FEWS NET scenario for October 2019 through May 2020, as the areas affected by the latest development of the situation had already been classified as in Crisis. A full review of the scenario is available in the October 2019 to May 2020 outlook report posted on the FEWS NET website.

    Projected Outlook Through May 2020

    The end of the mid-December 2019 to January 2020 period will coincide with the growing season A harvest of the main food products, such as maize, beans and groundnuts, in the northeastern and central-eastern regions of the country, which will be below average due to excessive rainfall and flooding. A significant proportion of returnee households could be expected to participate in the next growing season (growing season B), and an increase in the area sown by farmers is also likely, followed by a probable improvement in the harvests expected in June 2020, but given the large number of people still displaced, harvests may remain below average. However, this could once again provide food for some poor households who currently rely on their own production.

    Given the low coverage of humanitarian assistance received by returnee households, production from growing season A alone – which is expected to be poor – will not cover food needs in the central-eastern, northeastern and southeastern parts of the country. It is also estimated that the lean season will start earlier, as early as the beginning of March 2020.

    Taking into account the elements described above, the food security situation in the central-eastern and northeastern regions, including Kasai, Tanganyika, North Kivu and Ituri, are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until January 2020. At the end of the growing season A harvests and at the beginning of March 2020, the food situation in these areas could improve and shift to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for some due to improved food availability.

    Figures Title: DRC seasonal calendar Description: In the northeast part of DRC: cassava harvest if year-round. Rainy season is from m

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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