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Consecutive poor seasons expected in the northeast and center-east

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • February 2022
Consecutive poor seasons expected in the northeast and center-east

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  • Key Messages
  • Events that could change the scenario
  • Key Messages
    • With below-average harvests and the impact of repeated displacements, some northeastern territories will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September 2022. The center-east, however, where territories have experienced a full growing season, will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Northern areas will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    • From January to March 2022, rainfall in the unimodal zone of the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected to be below average. This poor rainfall means that a normal growing season in this zone is unlikely, and harvests may be smaller than in previous seasons with limited availability in local markets. This is likely to have an impact on the price of the staple food, maize. 

    • Despite the presence of the Ugandan and Burundian armies to support the DRC's armed forces, since the beginning of January 2022 there has been an increase in attacks by armed groups against civilians at sites for displaced persons in Nord-Kivu and Ituri, which are under siege, and in the highlands of Sud-Kivu. This situation jeopardizes any attempt at a normal recovery of the B growing season and suggests that harvests will be increasingly small compared to previous growing seasons. 


    Current Situation

    Agricultural activities and season A harvests: The bimodal areas of the northeast and center-east are in the middle of the A season harvest for the main food crops. In the provinces of Ituri, Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu, household participation in agricultural activities has declined due to insecurity, which restricts access to fields. This situation is leading to consecutive declines in harvests with each growing season. On the other hand, the southeast — which is a unimodal area — is in the middle of the crop cycle, with harvests expected from April 2022. However, this area is an agricultural deficit zone, and about 45 percent of households derive their income from artisanal mining activities, in addition to agricultural activities. The sale of agricultural products in these areas is a typical source of income for nearly 75 percent of households in these two areas.

    Conflict and population movements: The security situation in the DRC remains worrying, particularly in the three eastern provinces of Ituri, Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu.

    Ituri: Attacks by armed groups, particularly the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), are overwhelmingly responsible for the violence in Irumu and Djugu, accounting for 87 percent of reported deaths in the two territories in 2021. Violence increased toward the end of both rainy seasons (March to June and September to December) in 2021, which is consistent with historical trends. However, levels of violence have been higher and likely exacerbated by the military siege, which began in May 2021. Compared to 2020, violence in the region increased by 3.3 times in 2021, with Irumu and Djugu seeing a rise in deaths of nearly 550 percent. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), violence has displaced 140,500 people in Ituri over the past three months.

    Nord-Kivu: The Ugandan army (Uganda People's Defence Force, UPDF) began its offensives against the ADF with artillery and air strikes in November 2021, representing a significant escalation of the conflict. Air strikes on ADF positions and military reinforcements in urban centers have dispersed the ADF, who have refocused their attacks on rural populations in villages further west in the province. OCHA has reported approximately 22,700 newly displaced persons in the last three months. The territories of Beni and Rutshuru account for the overwhelming majority of deaths in the province.

    Sud-Kivu: Beginning in December 2021, the governments of Burundi and the DRC formalized an agreement allowing the Burundian military to work with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in fighting Burundian rebels, Resistance for Rule of Law in Burundi (RED-Tabara) and Mai-Mai Ilunga combatants in Uvira. Despite the inflow of foreign forces into the region, the number of reported clashes between the Mai-Mai self-defense groups and federal forces remained at the levels observed from October 2021 to January 2022. Clashes with Mai-Mai groups occurred mainly in the highlands of Mwenga and Fizi.

    Other observed population movements: A new influx of Central African refugees has been reported in Nord-Ubangi province, beginning in January 2022. More than 3,000 new Central African refugees have been registered in Limasa, about 265 kilometers from the town of Gbadolite, according to OCHA.

    Economic conditions: The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of the Congo (CPM) noted in early January 2022 that the outlook for the country's economy in 2022 was good, with projected growth of 6.1 percent and annual inflation of around 5 percent, which may enable the national currency to remain relatively stable. This recovery is due to price rises for precious commodities (notably copper, cobalt, zinc, gold, diamonds, silver, and nickel), which contribute more than 80 percent of the country's export earnings and to the easing of measures to combat the pandemic, as well as the roll-out of budget support programs. The central bank expects the economy to recover by 5.6 percent in 2022. In addition, with no major shocks in the goods and services markets, exchange rates have remained stable. The consumer price index will also increase by 6.3 per cent in 2022.

    Market functioning and food prices: Prices for the main imported food products, including rice and refined vegetable oil, remained stable during December 2021 and January 2022, with circumstantial variations in the price of rice in some markets as a result of high demand during the year-end festivities. This is due to the stability of the local currency and the flow of imports from neighboring countries, which are functioning normally. Cassava flour prices also remained stable in January 2022 compared to the previous month. As for how the markets are operating, a quick analysis of the fundamentals in the northeast and center-east areas of the country confirms that during this harvest period, the supply of local products remains sufficient to meet demand and thus stabilize prices. In contrast, in the southeast, which is a deficit area and is in the lean season, supply remains well below demand. This region continues to rely on imports from neighboring countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, and other southern African countries. However, COVID-19 has led to a slowdown in small-scale cross-border trade due to the partial closure of the borders and the strengthening of checks. In addition, the increase in fuel prices on the international market is having a negative impact on transportation costs in the country, with consequences for the price of products, especially imported products, in deficit areas.

    Trends in global acute malnutrition and epidemics: According to the latest data from the Nutrition Cluster, published in the second half of 2021, the nutritional situation has deteriorated throughout the country. The eastern part of the country is particularly affected by population movements, which contribute to malnutrition, while the western part of the country is particularly affected by chronic phenomena. In addition, during the third quarter of 2021, measles continued to be highly prevalent in almost all provinces, with an increase in Maniema and North and South Ubangi. Cholera remains present in the Grands Lacs region, as well as in a few health zones in Kasaï and Équateur, Tshopo, Lomami, and Haut-Lomami, due to the limited availability of drinking water.

    Humanitarian assistance: FEWS NET does not have any information about current assistance in the country. According to the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) project, the World Food Programme (WFP) plans to distribute 1,618,054 metric tons of food in February to different categories of beneficiaries and in different areas. This represents about 20 percent of the needs targeted by the response plan.

    Current food security outcomes: In February 2022, which is the season A harvest period in the northeast and center-east of the country, household food consumption has improved compared to previous months, despite the predicted below-average harvest. Farm households that have replenished their food stocks will depend on their own production throughout February and part of March. In contrast, some households in the northeast (Ituri and Nord-Kivu), which are under siege and without access to land, such as newly displaced persons, are experiencing a food consumption deficit and are using Crisis coping strategies, particularly those related to food consumption and livelihoods, to access food. These households are replenishing their incomes through daily agricultural work for middle-income and wealthy households during the harvest period, domestic work in the community, and the sale of harvested wild products. In this context, where some are seeing low production and others are not participating in the growing season, a small proportion of households in the northeast (in Ituri and Nord-Kivu) — who were previously in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and will manage to meet their minimum food requirements during this harvest period — are shifting to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Maniema and Tanganyika will also experience this shift. In contrast, despite the harvests, households in many of the conflict-affected northeast and center-east zones who have been unable to grow crops are relying on community goodwill to support themselves. Given that they are also continuing to experience food consumption deficits and above-average acute malnutrition levels, they will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Finally, the stable areas in the north, which have enjoyed a typical growing season and near-normal harvests, supporting typical access to their sources of income and food, are not experiencing consumption deficits and are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.


    The most-likely food security scenario for the period from February to September 2022 is based on the following key assumptions about how the national context will develop:

    • Economic conditions: Given the good outlook for the country's economy in 2022, with projected growth of 6.1 percent and annual inflation of around 5 percent, the national currency and exchange rate will remain stable.
    • Projected status of COVID-19 and cross-border restrictions: With low vaccination rates and the lack of implementation of preventive measures, a new wave of COVID-19 might be expected in DRC over the next eight months. Nevertheless, the government plans to consider the pandemic in endemic mode and thus alleviate the measures against the COVID-19 pandemic in the next four months. Border restrictions will remain in place and will be able to facilitate the same level of trade.
    • Agroclimatic conditions: Based on North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) forecasts, rainfall in the eastern DRC during the B season (March to May 2022) is likely to be below average. Thus, a smaller than normal B season harvest might be expected.
    • Conflict and population movements: Despite the inflow of foreign forces into the northeast, violence is expected to continue at current levels, and to follow an upward trend until July 2022, when violence typically peaks at the end of the first rainy season. In Ituri, Nord-Kivu, and Sud-Kivu, displacement is expected to continue, particularly in areas where humanitarian access will be limited and where a poor agricultural recovery will exacerbate an already precarious situation.
    • Food markets and prices: According to FEWS NET's market analyses, and in contrast to the typical circumstantial variations in the prices of the main imported food products, including rice and refined vegetable oil, due to high demand during the holiday season, commodity prices will remain stable until March, and then experience seasonal variations in April and May 2022, during the B season lean period. Between June and July, prices for the main food crops will stabilize after the B season harvests and are set to experience a typical rise from mid-August and September onward as household stocks for the B season are depleted. Supply and demand will follow their seasonal patterns, with supply increasing and demand decreasing during the post-harvest period and an increase in demand during the lean season, as availability decreases from mid-August.
    • Temporary labor and employees: Following the increase in the price of raw materials on the international market, an economic upturn may be expected. This would facilitate stability and an increase in the hiring of employees, especially in mining areas. In this situation, poor households could turn to these new economic opportunities, in the more attractive artisanal mines and in domestic work, to replenish their income and improve their access to food, especially in the mining areas of the country.
    • Temporary agricultural work: Based on recent trends in population movements in conflict zones, which have displaced many people during this period of agricultural recovery, poor households in Ituri, Nord-Kivu, and Sud-Kivu will provide a ready supply of labor for middle-income and wealthy households, especially during the short lean season in April. Poor households will be able to increase their income and thus access food throughout the scenario period. However, with the decline in production experienced in season A and expected in season B, the demand for agricultural labor is likely to be lower than supply, resulting in a decline in income for households that depend on this source.
    • Humanitarian assistance: FEWS NET does not have any data about planned assistance during the scenario period. While it is likely that assistance will continue to improve food security outcomes in some locations, based on the weak humanitarian response in 2021, which met only 45.1 percent of planned needs in 2021, humanitarian assistance may be expected to be increasingly lower than in previous months throughout the scenario period from February to September 2022.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between February and May 2022: This first part of the scenario period will be marked by a two-month post-harvest period (February to March) and the B season lean period (April and May) in the northeast and center-east of the country. Between February and March, households in these two areas will be selling agricultural products to supplement their income and will be relying more on their own production for food supplies. However, with below-average production, they will be forced to prioritize their food needs and will not be able to meet their non-food needs. This will result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes with support from the previous season's harvests. In the second half of this first scenario period (April to May), which will include the short B season lean period, household food stocks are likely to have been depleted and households will be dependent on the market for their food supplies. During this same period, households that have not grown crops will use Crisis coping strategies to access food. These households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Finally, the stable areas in the north have enjoyed a typical growing season and are experiencing near-normal harvests, enabling typical access to their sources of income and food. This will allow them to avoid consumption deficits and to continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    Between June and September 2022: As in the previous scenario period, areas in the northeast and center-east will experience a two-month post-harvest period (June and July) and the beginning of the long lean season, which will start early in August. The June harvest will allow households to improve their food consumption for as long as their food stocks last. Those households that have been able to increase their income by selling harvested products will depend on their own production. Starting in August, with a lean period that is expected to come earlier and last longer than the one during the B season, and with stocks almost completely depleted, most households in the target areas will depend on the market for supplies. In addition, some areas in the east are experiencing the effects of the prolonged crisis and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). These areas include Ituri (Irumu and Djugu), Sud-Kivu (Uvira, Fizi) and Nord-Kivu (Beni, Rutshuru, and Masisi). The provinces of Lomami, Sankuru, Kasaï, Kasaï-Oriental, part of Maniema, and the former Katanga ⁠— which are trying to stabilize and where households have better access to food and income ⁠— will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will continue to be experienced in the provinces of Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé, and Tshopo. These provinces have not experienced significant shocks and are not facing a food consumption deficit.

    Events that could change the scenario



    Impact on food security outcomes


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

    Decreased intensity of armed conflicts

    This would reduce population movements while increasing participation in agricultural activities that would improve food access and income sources for poor households at the end of the growing season.







    Improved COVID-19 indicators and lifting of restrictions across the country


    The end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the DRC and around the world will have innumerable positive effects, especially in terms of improving people's livelihoods. The opening of borders would encourage trade flows and poor households in border areas that rely on small-scale informal trade would be able to replenish their income and improve their access to food.

    Stable agroclimatological conditions with average rainfall in all areas

    This would promote normal agricultural production and thus reduce the food consumption deficits observed in many areas of the country that are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Deterioration of the political situation in the country, as the next elections approach

    General unrest may be expected, marked by public demonstrations, which would immobilize those involved in agricultural work and could have an impact on household livelihoods.

    Increase in the price of staple cereals and fuel on the international market

    Reduced food access and higher prices for staple foods in local markets. The gap could be filled by alternative products.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET, using data from ACLED

    Figure 3

    Figure 2


    Figure 4

    Figure 3

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    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.

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