Food Security Outlook

Season A harvests were below normal in the central-eastern region due to excessive rainfall

February 2020 to September 2020

February - May 2020

Carte des Résultats estimés les plus probables de la sécurité alimentaire, Février-Mai 2020 : Minimal (Phase 1 de l'IPC) dans Tshopo, Bas-Uele, et Haut-Uele; Stress (Phase 2 de l'IPC) dans Maniema, Sankuru, Lualaba, Haut-Lomami, Haut-Katanga, et parties de Kasai, Kasai-Central, Tanganyika, Sud-Kivu, Nord Kivu, et Ituri; Crise (Phase 3 de l'IPC) dans parties de Kasai, Kasai-Central, Tanganyika, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, et Ituri

June - September 2020

Carte des Résultats estimés les plus probables de la sécurité alimentaire, Juin-Septembre 2020  : Minimal (Phase 1 de l'IPC) dans Tshopo, Bas-Uele, et Haut-Uele; Stress (Phase 2 de l'IPC) dans Maniema, Sankuru, Lualaba, Haut-Lomami, Haut-Katanga, et parties de Kasai, Kasai-Central, Tanganyika, Sud-Kivu, Nord Kivu, et Ituri; Crise (Phase 3 de l'IPC) dans parties de Kasai, Kasai-Central, Tanganyika, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu, et Ituri

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners. FEWS NET only maps the Eastern half of DRC.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners. FEWS NET only maps the Eastern half of DRC.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Not mapped
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Harvests in agricultural season A were generally below normal, particularly in the central-southern part of the country, owing to heavy flooding caused by excessive rainfall. This situation, occurring in a deficit region that is under strong pressure from returnees of all categories, suggests that there will be difficulties in accessing food in the short term, particularly in Kasai and Kasai-Central.

  • Despite the significant return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Kasai region, which is estimated to amount to approximately 63 percent of the 1.6 million registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the poor coverage of current humanitarian assistance could result in the incomplete reintegration of these returnees, with the possibility of inadvisable choices being made, such as illegal activities or even the remobilization of young people from different militias.

  • Since December 2019, prices for staple foods have increased on all of the country’s markets. According to the Ministry of the Economy, this can be explained by the drop in the exchange rate, weather conditions and the deterioration of key sections of road throughout the country. These facts are reflected respectively in limited access to food, reduced agricultural production and difficulties in getting harvested crops to consumption centers.

  • During the scenario period, which will start with lean season B, poor performance during the previous season, insufficient assistance to returnees and the resumption of hostilities in some eastern provinces, will result in a difficult food situation and a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation in the area, notably in Ituri, Nord-Kivu, the central-southern part of Kasai and Kasai-Central. The rest of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), except for the almost-stable northern areas which remain in a Minimal (IPC Phase 1) situation.

National Overview

Current Situation

Agroclimatic situation: Like other countries in the southern region, the DRC has suffered climate-related disruptions throughout most of its territory since October 2019. Excessive rainfall has resulted in flooding, landslides and the destruction of road infrastructure; many households have been affected by these natural disasters. The western, central and northern provinces of the country have been hit hardest. In Zongo, 9,168 people were affected, while in Haut-Uélé more than 10,000 people were displaced as a result of the floods.

In addition to the low production expected as a result of this above-normal rainfall, trade in staple foods between different areas has slowed down due to the very poor state of road infrastructure in these regions, where the humanitarian situation is already concerning.

Insecurity and population movements: The DRC continues to face an alarming and unprecedented security situation. The resumption of hostilities by armed groups on several fronts and intercommunity violence in the eastern part of the country indicate an uncertain future for those areas plagued by the continued displacement of populations. This is the case in Ituri, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu and Tanganyika provinces. This military presence both restricts people’s access to their fields and means that those who were able to sow lose their harvests to theft by the fighters.

In Ituri, the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia has intensified its attacks and atrocities against civilian populations in Mahagi and Djugu since January. At the beginning of February, some 300 CODECO fighters, who had gathered for more than three months in Rethy, returned to their former bases in Djugu territory, in the towns of Ala, Sanduku and Aruda in the Walendu Pitsi sector. New population movements are being reported, while the various warnings of population movements received by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) already indicate that there were some 1,014,405 IDPs in this province by the end of 2019. This has restricted household access to resources and resulted in limited humanitarian access to people in need of assistance.

The Patriotic Resistance Front in Ituri (FRPI) is confined to Irumu territory and is still setting preconditions for their surrender.

In the neighboring province of Nord-Kivu, despite offensives by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), the Allied Democratic Forces – National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) have stepped up violence against local populations in Beni and the surrounding areas, resulting in ongoing killings in the territories neighboring Mambasa and Irumu in Ituri. Since the beginning of February 2020, there has been a massive displacement of people fleeing hostilities from the rural commune of Magina to the center of the city of Beni. In the southeastern part of Nord-Kivu, Masisi and Rutshuru territories have experienced an increase in crime, in particular kidnapping for ransom and murder, as well as fighting between various armed groups, including the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS), Nduma Defense of Congo-Renovated (NDC-R), Nyatura – Forces de Patriotes Congolais (Nyatura FPC), Nyatura Biriko, the National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD), the Collective of Movements for Change (CMC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the national army.

In Sud-Kivu, the defection of a few military officers with their troops to return to armed groups only increases the risk of a major eruption of inter-ethnic conflict in the territories of Uvira, Fizi and Mwenga. The armed groups involved identify with local communities and encourage them to become involved in violence. More than 120 Nyatura militia members who had already been confined in Numbi to surrender returned to the bush last January. In this region, more than 6,000 people have reportedly fled armed clashes between local militia in the villages of Masango I, Rubibi and Kihuha in the Bijombo grouping since 5 January 2020. Several militia leaders from Nord-Kivu arrived in the territory of Kalehe following FARDC retaliation. An estimated 40,000 people were affected by various waves of displacement in several localities of the Kalonge grouping in December 2019.

In Maniema Province, almost daily clashes have resumed between the FARDC and the Mayi-Mayi Malaika and Mandevu coalition since early January 2019, despite the fact that the provincial government had already begun negotiations with these militia members. 

In Haut-Uélé, there are reports of a resurgence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) near Dungu. Fighting between the LRA and FARDC broke out in January 2020, resulting in 23 deaths and 245 abductions, according to local civil society organizations.

In Tanganyika Province, commanders from the Maï-Maï Hapa na pale de Mundus and Yakutumba militias set a number of conditions for their surrender.

With the improvement of the political and security situation in the Kasai area, significant numbers of both former IDPs and spontaneous returnees from Angola are returning.

Agricultural situation: Despite the agroclimatic forecasts noted above, the 2019–2020 growing season was the least productive of the last three seasons, with below-normal season A harvests only sufficient to cover household needs for a limited stock period of up to one or two months at most. There have been significant crop losses due to flooding of cultivated land, which has destroyed agricultural service roads, making it more difficult to transport this limited production out to consumption centers.

It should also be noted that, despite the massive return of displaced people to their areas of origin, the agricultural recovery in the Kasai region, while effectively under way, has not been strongly supported by humanitarian action.

Food markets and prices: Over the past two months, there has been an unusual increase in the prices of staple foods in DRC markets. For example, the price of sugar has almost doubled in Kinshasa, rising from 6,500 to 11,500 Congolese francs for a 5 kilogram bag. In Bunia, 10 kilograms of green beans are being traded for 20,000 Congolese francs, rather than 13,500 Congolese francs, as previously. The Ministry of Economy believes that this increase in market prices is due to the fall in exchange rates, weather conditions and the deterioration of key sections of road across the country. Cereal shortages, particularly of corn flour, in southern Africa (Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa) continue to affect availability of these products in the southeastern and central-eastern provinces, namely Katanga and part of the Kasai region.

Epidemics: The development of the measles epidemic and cholera outbreaks remain a concern, with 203,179 cases of measles and 21,715 cases of cholera recorded between January and September 2019, much higher than in previous years. The effects of this epidemic could include an increase in poor nutritional outcomes among children and some loss of livelihood for affected individuals and households.

It has been 20 months since the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak was first declared on 8 May 2018. The number of reported cases per week is lower than it was during the period from March to September 2019 (Figure 2). However, several health districts are difficult to reach owing to insecurity, including the Mandima health district, where there are rumors of several deaths in communities in the Lwemba health district. It continues to affect people, with new cases in Ituri and Nord-Kivu provinces, although an overall decrease in cases has been recorded since July 2019. The disease continues to be considered a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the impact on food security in affected areas is not very significant, it is likely that the households that were most hesitant during the epidemic will be more inclined to resume their agricultural activities now that the number of cases is declining.

Nutritional situation: This remains a matter for concern at the national level. According to the National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT) in its most recent newsletter for the third quarter of 2019, 50 percent of alerts are in the Kasai region alone, with a marked predominance in Kasai-Central, where nearly 75 percent of health districts on alert status are congregated. In terms of health, and according to a recent ACTED/REACH survey conducted in January 2020, 46 percent of households in the Nyemba health district in the far northeast of Tanganyika report no access to a health facility.

Epidemics: The development of the measles epidemic and cholera outbreaks remain a concern, with 203,179 cases of measles and 21,715 cases of cholera recorded between January and September 2019, much higher than in previous years. The effects of this epidemic could include an increase in poor nutritional outcomes among children and some loss of livelihood for affected individuals and households.

It has been 20 months since the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak was first declared on 8 May 2018. The number of reported cases per week is lower than it was during the period from March to September 2019 (Figure 2). However, several health districts are difficult to reach owing to insecurity, including the Mandima health district, where there are rumors of several deaths in communities in the Lwemba health district. It continues to affect people, with new cases in Ituri and Nord-Kivu provinces, although an overall decrease in cases has been recorded since July 2019. The disease continues to be considered a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the impact on food security in affected areas is not very significant, it is likely that the households that were most hesitant during the epidemic will be more inclined to resume their agricultural activities now that the number of cases is declining.

Nutritional situation: This remains a matter for concern at the national level. According to the National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT) in its most recent newsletter for the third quarter of 2019, 50 percent of alerts are in the Kasai region alone, with a marked predominance in Kasai-Central, where nearly 75 percent of health districts on alert status are congregated. In terms of health, and according to a recent ACTED/REACH survey conducted in January 2020, 46 percent of households in the Nyemba health district in the far northeast of Tanganyika report no access to a health facility.

Epidemics: The development of the measles epidemic and cholera outbreaks remain a concern, with 203,179 cases of measles and 21,715 cases of cholera recorded between January and September 2019, much higher than in previous years. The effects of this epidemic could include an increase in poor nutritional outcomes among children and some loss of livelihood for affected individuals and households.

It has been 20 months since the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak was first declared on 8 May 2018. The number of reported cases per week is lower than it was during the period from March to September 2019 (Figure 2). However, several health districts are difficult to reach owing to insecurity, including the Mandima health district, where there are rumors of several deaths in communities in the Lwemba health district. It continues to affect people, with new cases in Ituri and Nord-Kivu provinces, although an overall decrease in cases has been recorded since July 2019. The disease continues to be considered a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the impact on food security in affected areas is not very significant, it is likely that the households that were most hesitant during the epidemic will be more inclined to resume their agricultural activities now that the number of cases is declining.

Nutritional situation: This remains a matter for concern at the national level. According to the National Nutrition Program (PRONANUT) in its most recent newsletter for the third quarter of 2019, 50 percent of alerts are in the Kasai region alone, with a marked predominance in Kasai-Central, where nearly 75 percent of health districts on alert status are congregated. In terms of health, and according to a recent ACTED/REACH survey conducted in January 2020, 46 percent of households in the Nyemba health district in the far northeast of Tanganyika report no access to a health facility.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for February to September 2020 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

  • Agroclimatology: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the DRC bimodal rainy season from October 2019 to March 2020 is expected to be average, and above average in localized areas. As a result, normal B season harvests might be expected from June 2020.
  • Growing season and workforce: Given the agroclimatic forecasts that suggest a normal B growing season, the scale of unassisted returns in the Kasai region could offer access to a cheap workforce in return areas.
  • Insecurity and population movements: Ongoing conflict in the provinces of Sud-Kivu, Nord-Kivu, Ituri, Maniema, Haut-Uélé and Tanganyika could provoke new population displacement crises in the coming months. It should also be noted that in many provinces, population movements have caused several growing seasons to fail. This will have an impact on agricultural production.
  • Political developments: For more than two months, there has been a lack of political understanding between the ruling Common Front for Congo and Heading for Change (FCC-CACH) coalition. This lack of understanding can also be seen in some provinces where governors and their governments are threatened by provincial assemblies. This situation could lead to a general outbreak of public demonstrations, especially since the population voted overwhelmingly in favor of the opposition in the 2019 presidential elections.
  • Markets and prices: Following in the wake of the Congolese economy, the local currency exchange rate will continue to slide and key sections of road throughout the country will continue to deteriorate during this rainy period. This could reduce trade and restrict trading in markets. In addition, cereal shortages, particularly of corn flour, in southern African countries (Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa) will continue to affect availability of these products in the southern DRC, particularly in the former Katanga and Kasai regions. This will probably lead to higher prices than usual for staple foods.
  • EVD epidemic: Continuing response efforts in active health districts, including in unstable areas, and preventing the disease from being reintroduced into heavily populated areas where it has already been eliminated are crucial to ending the current transmission. Given this trend toward a reduction in new cases of EVD infection, the return of displaced persons to previously affected areas and a resumption of agricultural activities in Beni and surrounding areas might also be expected.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

February to May 2020 will see the peak of the lean season in the northeastern and central-eastern regions, as well as the start of the first harvests in growing season B. Some of the areas that are experiencing the most severe effects of conflict and/or flooding, limiting access to food and livelihoods, may remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Ituri, Sud-Kivu and Nord-Kivu, Tanganyika and Kasai-Central. The provinces of Lomami, Sankuru, Kasai, Kasai-Oriental and the former Katanga, which have recently recovered from conflict, have less access to their normal livelihoods, and still have displaced or recently returned populations will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). On the other hand, the calmer provinces of Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé, Tshopo and part of Maniema will remain in a Minimal (IPC Phase 1) situation, with normal access to food and income.

Between June and September 2020, which corresponds to the peak lean season in eastern DRC, the situation of households throughout the region will be increasingly difficult with limited access to food due to the depletion of stocks. It is estimated that the December green harvests will provide relief for people who will have begun to develop often damaging and irreversible coping strategies. Some areas in the east of the country that are experiencing the effects of the prolonged crisis may remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Ituri (Irumu and Djugu), Sud-Kivu (Uvira, Fizi) and Nord-Kivu. However, the provinces of Tanganyika, Lomami, Sankuru, Kasai-Oriental, Kasai, Maniema and the former Katanga, which are trying to return stability and where households have better access to food and income, will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). On the other hand, the situation in the provinces of Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé and Tshopo, which have not experienced significant shocks, will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

 

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Zones Evénements Impact sur les conditions de la sécurité alimentaire
Ituri, Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu, Tanganyika, Maniema
  • A downturn in the security situation
  • A fresh upsurge in violence by armed groups against local populations and the national army could increase the movement of populations who would abandon their livelihoods. Access to people in need would be limited.

 

Ituri, Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu, Tanganyika, Maniema, Kasaï

  • Continued deterioration of agricultural service roads 
  • Irregular rainfall during the growing season
  • Political deterioration 
  • Negative impact in the area, which could weaken trade between regions and food availability at markets.
  • Excessive and/or insufficient/delayed rain affecting the growing cycle and ultimately agricultural production, potentially exacerbating flood damage.
  • This situation could lead to a general outbreak of public demonstrations.

 

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

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