Skip to main content

Consecutive seasons of below average production in the conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • February - September 2023
Consecutive seasons of below average production in the conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal calendar in a typical year
  • Areas of concern
  • Key Messages
    • Low household participation in the A agricultural season due to untimely displacements of populations led to less successful A season harvests, particularly in the North-East and Center-East of the country. Excessive rainfall in the highlands of South Kivu and flooding in the midlands caused landslides and crop losses, particularly around Minembwe, resulting in below-average production and food access difficulties in this area.

    • The M23 rebel offensive and joint operations by loyalist armies against the ADF in North Kivu and Ituri significantly increased the number of displaced people by approximately 49 percent during the second and third quarters of 2022, from 270,000 to 542,000. Since January 2023, these conflicts have been escalating causing population movements. This situation is likely to disrupt agricultural activities linked to population movements in these areas, which were once considered the breadbasket of the East region, and will ultimately result in reduced food availability. 

    • The provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, which are in a situation of ongoing conflict, will experience increased food consumption deficits and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with an increase in the number of people experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in certain health areas in the territories of Rutshuru and Djugu, in a context of extreme violence. The more stable areas of the North, especially Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, and Tshopo, will have normal agricultural seasons and will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).  In contrast, Maniema, Lualaba, Haut-Katanga, most of the Kasai provinces, and Lomami remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).


    National Overview

    Current situation

    Overall political context: The upcoming presidential election period has begun across the country. The electoral calendar has been published and voter registration has begun, albeit with significant challenges. Election observers have criticized the many technical challenges in the voter registration process, the fact that the electoral calendar seems unrealistic, and the lack of financial investment in the elections. 

    Security situation and population movements: Millions of Congolese continue to suffer the effects of the multifaceted conflicts plaguing the eastern part of the country.Despite the extension of the state of siege, first implemented in May 2021 in response to increased violence in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, attacks by armed groups continued throughout Ituri and North Kivu. While the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) continues to operate primarily in the Ituri province, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have increasingly demonstrated their ability to operate in locations outside their traditional areas of operation in the territories of Beni and Irumu in North Kivu and Ituri province. In addition, the M23 rebels continue their attacks to expand their areas of influence in the territories of Rutshuru, Masisi, and Nyiragongo aas well as their control of major commercial and road axes. 

    In South Kivu, despite the presence of regular Burundian military personnel who have come to support the FARDC, the situation continues to deteriorate. There are reports of increased activism by Twirwaneho-Gumino-Android fighters and allied Burundian rebels in the highlands of Mwenga, Uvira and Fizi. Also, local rebel groups like Mai-Mai, Biloze, Bishambuke, and Yakutumba are strengthening their positions. 

    Faced with this situation, the population continues to be displaced. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that there were more than 1.5 million internally displaced people in Ituri province at the end of December 2022. Approximately 1.36 million people have been displaced in South Kivu, while 2.2 million people have been displaced in neighboring North Kivu, of which nearly 264,000 people are living in developed sites/camps in the suburban area of Goma (Figure 1).

    Figure 1

    Map of population movements
    Map showing displaced populations in the DRC.

    Source: UNOCHA/UNHCR/FEWS NET

    Agro-climatic conditions and agricultural production: Between October 2022 and February 2023, rainfall during the A season in the DRC's bimodal areas was slightly below the average for the last 30 years. However, given the cumulative rainfall that these areas receive, the decline did not have a significant impact on the performance of a normal crop cycle. On the other hand, excessive rainfall in the highlands of South Kivu and flooding in the midlands caused landslides and crop losses, particularly around Minembwe. In the East of the country, particularly in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, production is significantly impacted by conflicts that limit access to fields and disrupt agricultural activities, resulting in below-average production.

    Devaluation of the local currency: The local currency, the Congolese franc (CDF), continues to depreciate against the US dollar (USD) on the DRC's foreign exchange market. However, the currency has remained stable over the past year. One reason for the stability of the Congolese franc is the increase in mining revenues (copper and cobalt). This stability has also helped stabilize the prices of imported food (vegetable oil, rice) and fuel. 

    Despite the relative stability of the exchange rate, inflation has continued to rise throughout 2022 and into 2023. Inflation levels currently match the rates of 2020, one of the largest market shocks to the economy. Key inflation sub-indicators are food and transportation.

    Market operations and food prices: The combined effects of the devaluation of the local currency and the general rise in world food and fuel prices are keeping basic foodstuff prices well above average. Despite seasonal declines related to the A season harvest, insecurity and high transportation costs are disrupting the functioning of markets and keeping basic foodstuff prices above average. In January 2023, the price of basic foodstuffs (beans, maize meal, vegetable oil, and rice) was about 51 percent above last year's level and 101 percent above the five-year average. Insecurity is also disrupting traditional trade flows, forcing traders to take alternative routes to market goods. For example, foodstuffs from Rutshuru pass through Uganda and then Rwanda to reach the markets in Goma. 

    Resurgence of epidemics: Cholera and measles epidemics are spreading more and more compared to previous years. According to the health cluster, 33 health areas in five provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut-Katanga, and Haut-Lomami) were affected by the cholera epidemic at the beginning of 2023. January 2023 saw a 15 percent increase in cases compared to January 2022 and a 76 percent increase compared to January 2021. As cases of measles are still recorded in 2023, all 26 provinces of the DRC are suffering from this epidemic, with an increase of 62 percent of cases compared to 2021. 

    Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian response is underway, though it will cover only a small proportion of the total population of the affected territories. This is due to logistical and financial constraints. For example, as part of the M23 crisis emergency response plan in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, humanitarian assistance covered only 9.9 percent of the total population of these two territories in three months. 

    Current food security outcomes

    At this time of the A season harvest in the North-East and Center-East, there is an overall seasonal improvement in household food consumption from January onward, particularly for those households that had the opportunity to cultivate. However, in conflict areas where a good proportion of fields have been abandoned due to the escalation of conflicts, displaced households are not expecting a regular harvest, or any harvest at all. Some who have resettled not too far from their fields, and who have been farming for three quarters of the cycle, are trying to commute for possible future crops. This is the case in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces, where many farming households lacked access to their crops. Some who took the risk of going to their fields despite the insecurity managed to obtain very small harvests, as much of it was harvested by armed groups. Households that did not harvest are resorting to coping strategies related to new economic opportunities in their places of displacement as they seek new sources of income. For some households, these include agricultural and non-agricultural day labor, the sale of firewood and charcoal, as well as the sale of fruit. Other households took part in the sale of small livestock, and this was only for those who moved with these animals. In addition to these strategies, the number of meals and food portions are reduced, and cheaper as well as fewer preferred foodstuffs are consumed. As a result, populations in conflict areas with food consumption deficits, namely the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Kasai, Maniema and Tanganyika, are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the health areas of Mugwalu and Drodro in Djugu and Rwanguba, Bambo, and Mweso in Rutshuru, which have been the most impacted by conflict and where a large proportion of IDPs have not been able to cultivate, an increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is reported. This is characterized by an increase in visible signs of malnutrition and the use of emergency strategies, including begging and going days without food. 

    Areas with minimally adequate food consumption that have conducted an almost complete agricultural campaign (Maniema, Haut-Katanga, Kasai region and Lwalaba) remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Most of these areas are in a post-conflict situation and have seen a good recovery in agricultural activities, which makes them rely on their own production. The northern provinces (Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Tshopo) remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).


    Seasonal calendar in a typical year
    Seasonal calendar for DRC.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    In relation to the changing national context, the most likely scenario for food security from February to September 2023 is based on the following fundamental assumptions:

    • Conflict and population movements in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu: Despite a slight decline in attacks in Ituri in early 2023, the level of violence and deaths will remain at their highest level since 2019. A significant decline throughout 2023 is also unlikely. 

      In North Kivu, despite the M23's stated intention to withdraw from conquered territories, it is likely that the rebel group will continue to attempt to consolidate territorial gains throughout the scenario period (February-September). Incidents may increase in number and intensity, eroding trust between the DRC authorities and Rwanda, which will further complicate the peace process. Continued M23 operations are expected to result in further population displacements. However, with the arrival of East African Community (EAC) forces in mid-2023, it will likely be difficult for the M23 movement to advance further into other territories. 

      In South Kivu, current trends in the Banyamulenge crisis in the highlands from Minembwe to Fizi make it likely that the number of security incidents and associated deaths will continue to increase throughout the year, similar to those observed in the second half of 2022. This level of conflict will remain unchanged through May 2023. 

      In Tanganyika, Kasai, Center-Kasai, and Maniema provinces, ongoing inter-community conflict will continue sporadically with a level of intensity that is expected to remain similar to that of recent months. Also, the conflict between indigenous Teke and non-indigenous Yaka in Kwamouth territory (Mai-Ndombe province) could continue to impact the resumption of the agricultural season as well as disrupt livelihoods.

    • Pre-election violence: The challenge of organizing elections in such a large country, with a population of more than 100 million, is likely to delay the elections. Political tensions are likely to be high, leading to demonstrations throughout the scenario period. 
    • Agro-climatic conditions: A large part of southern Africa, including the southern part of the DRC, is expected to experience near normal cumulative rainfall through May 2023, according to NMME's dynamic forecast (Figure 2). This would support a normal production cycle despite some flash flooding that some areas may experience because of torrential rains, with flooding expected in the Uvira, Fizi and Kalemie areas during this agricultural season B. 

      In addition, in the western part of the country, despite the lower than normal forecast, the Congo River could expect downstream flooding. 

    Figure 2

    National Multi-Model Ensemble Forecast (NMME) for March-May 2023
    National Multi-Model Ensemble Forecast (NMME) pour mars-mai 2023

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    • Economic conditions: According to data from the Central Bank of the Congo (BCC), inflation of the Congolese franc of nearly 4.46 percent on the parallel market in 2022 will pose a risk to the current economic situation.  Inflation fluctuations in the DRC are linked to the functioning of the world market. Therefore, global trends are likely to have parallel impacts in the DRC. 
    • Market operations and food prices: According to FEWS NET's January 2023 market analysis, the prices of key local food products will follow their fluctuations, although they will remain above the five-year average. On the other hand, prices of major imported foodstuffs, such as rice and vegetable oil, will remain stable over the next three months, though higher (11 percent) than in 2022 and the average of the last five years. 
    • Temporary and hired labor: The stability of raw material prices on the international market should promote the stability of the national economy, which is more than 65 percent dependent on exports of its raw materials. In this context, poor households could turn to these new economic opportunities which are artisanal mining and domestic work.
    • Temporary agricultural work: Based on recent trends in population movements in conflict areas, with many displaced during this period of agricultural recovery, poor households in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces will provide cheap labor for the middle and upper classes, especially during this period of poor harvests and during the upcoming B crop season (March-June). 
    • Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian assistance coverage is likely to remain low in most target areas. Given the volatility of the fighting in the East, humanitarian access will remain a challenge and may decline sporadically. 
    • Cross-border restrictions: As of January 5, 2023, the Government of Burundian has ended the COVID-19 rapid test requirement to enter Burundi, while the borders with Angola have been reopened since July 2022. These measures will allow small traders to resume their cross-border activities with Burundi. The level of informal flows can be expected to increase, resulting in larger and larger volumes of trade. In addition, the announcement of the end of the Ebola epidemic in Uganda provides reassurance that trade with the DRC will continue to flow smoothly.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    February to May 2023: This first scenario period will be marked by a two-month post-harvest period (February and March) and the season B small lean period (April and May) in the North-East and Center-East of the country. Between February and March, households will sell agricultural products to generate income and will rely more on their own production to obtain food. However, with below-average production and the non-accessibility of season A crops in the conflict areas of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, households will not be able to meet their food needs. In addition, population displacement and limited access to fields may reduce household participation during the B agricultural season (March-June). Some areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Tanganyika. In some health areas in Djugu and Rutshuru territories, the most conflict-affected areas where a large proportion of IDPs have not been able to cultivate, an increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is anticipated during the projection period, characterized by an increase in visible signs of malnutrition and the use of emergency strategies, including begging and stealing crops from the fields. The Center-South and Southeast provinces, mainly Maniema, South Kivu, and former Katanga, which are able to cover their minimum food needs and have experienced full agricultural seasons, would move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. The provinces of Haut-Uele, Bas-Uélé, Tshopo, and part of Maniema, which are experiencing peace and do not have food deficits, will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). 

    June to September 2023: As in the previous scenario period, the North-East and Center-East areas will experience a successive two-month post-harvest period (July-August). The June harvest will improve household food consumption for as long as their food stocks last. Those households that have improved their income through the sale of harvested products will be dependent on their own production. Household stocks for the B agricultural season will be depleted early, starting in August, amidst a low-income environment. By August, and with reserves almost completely depleted, market dependence will be the supply method for most households. Areas in the East that are experiencing the effects of the protracted conflict will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Ituri (Irumu and Djugu), South Kivu (Uvira, Fizi), and North Kivu (Beni, Nyiragongo, Rutshuru, and Masisi). The provinces of Lomami, Sankuru, Kasai Oriental, Kasai, part of Maniema, and former Katanga, which are trying to stabilize, and where households have better access to food, income, and minimally adequate food consumption, will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. The provinces of Haut-Uélé, Bas-Uélé, and Tshopo, which have not experienced significant shocks and do not have a food consumption deficit, will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    Events that could change the scenario

    Table 1
    Possible events in the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario.
    AreasEventsImpact on food security conditions
    NationalMajor rainfall disruptions in the east and west regions.This would limit normal agricultural production and reduce the flow of local products into the country. An increase in areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will be likely, especially in areas of rainfall deficits.
    Deterioration of the political situation in the country, ahead of the next elections.A general flare-up of violence could be expected, marked by public demonstrations, which could ground economic activities in urban centers, including sources of income related to transportation, petty trade, among others. This could lead to a probable increase in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) populations in urban centers.
    Fuel price increase Higher transport costs would increase the prices of major foodstuffs and reduce access to imported food for poor households.
    Ituri, Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu, Tanganyika, Maniema, KasaïThe decrease in the scale of armed conflictsReduction of population movements while increasing participation in agricultural activities that would ultimately improve food access and income sources for poor households. 

    Areas of concern

    Nord-Kivu/ Rutshuru Territory/CD11 (Figure 1)

    Current Situation

    Conflicts and population movements: In the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, armed clashes persist, leading to population movements. Currently, stability on the South axis (Nyiragongo) is observed with the crystallization of positions towards Kibumba/Buhumba (position taken by EAC forces), the announcement of the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group (Kibumba/Buhumba) in December 2022, as well as the Rumangabo camp in January. Fresh population displacements in the conflict areas have been recorded. The destruction of basic social infrastructure (schools, health centers, roads/bridges, among others) and several protection incidents (extortion, looting, rape, assault and battery, forced labor) in the Bwisha chiefdom have also been recorded. According to OCHA, there are 602,000 displaced people and 154,593 officially registered returnees in this area since February 2023. More than 7,000 people have taken refuge in Uganda, according to UNHCR. Most displaced people are in Nyiragongo territory (233,000 people), with more than 97 percent staying in churches, schools, stadiums, and makeshift sites, while a small proportion (15 percent) are living with host families.

    Figure 3

    Reference map for the area of concern: Rutshuru territory, CD11
    Carte de référence pour la zone concernée : Territoire de Rutshuru, CD11

    Source: FEWS NET

    Agro-climatic conditions: The livelihood area in CD11 (Rutshuru Agricultural Volcanic Soils) has benefited from favorable agro-climatic conditions for a full crop cycle, on volcanic soil that is very rich in minerals. Food crops such as beans, maize, cassava, potatoes and sorghum are the main crops grown during the A agricultural season. In some areas of the territory, particularly in the North-West, excessive rainfall has been observed since the start of the A agricultural season, resulting in flooding and losses of soil and crops grown on the mountain slopes.

    Seasonal progress: The Rutshuru territory in CD11 (Rutshuru Agricultural Volcanic Soils) is approaching the end of the A season harvest, which began in mid-December 2022 and will run until the end of February 2023. This agricultural season, which began during a period of conflict, has seen low participation by agricultural households due to the massive and continuous population displacement observed since the beginning of the September 2022 season. For households that were able to cultivate, crops were lost with the resumption of fighting in the area due to displacement and the abandonment of crops. Some households that were able to harvest have low stocks due to poor production. In rebel-occupied areas, there is looting of crops marked by early harvests.

    Given the presence of displaced people and returnees in the area because of the conflict between the FARDC and the March 23 Movement (M23), people in several occupied localities have been displaced even though they had already planted food crops. As a result, most displaced people in this area (OCHA January 2023) have not had access to their crops. Overall, the current harvest is significantly lower than the previous season, with an estimated 50 percent decline, also when compared to the five-year average. 

    Livelihoods and access to land: In Rutshuru territory, access to agricultural land remains the privilege of major landowners (chiefdoms). Peasants lack land to cultivate because of the difficulties in acquiring it. Land conflicts often end in violent clashes. This remains a major concern in the Rutshuru agricultural sector. To date, access to land is on a rental basis from large landowners at a rate of 400 USD per hectare per growing season. 

    Market operations and food prices: The local market in Rutshuru is being disrupted by the high demand resulting from the presence of displaced people in the territory and also in Nyiragongo territory in a context of low food availability in the face of growing demand. 

    This disruption of local markets is caused by instability due to the insecurity that the territory has experienced since the resurgence of the M23 in March 2022, the poor condition of agricultural service roads, the looting of crops in occupied areas, the abandonment of fields due to conflict, and the closure of the Goma-Rutshuru and Rutshuru-Lubero main roads. Producers have to travel to Uganda and then to Rwanda to get their produce to Goma. 

    FEWS NET lacks data on prices in Rutshuru, due to the inaccessibility of the area. However, prices for most commodities are above average in the Goma market, which supplies Rutshuru. Given the increases in transportation costs, as well as the volatility of the situation, it is likely that food prices in Rutshuru are above those in Goma (Figure 4). 

    Figure 4

    Projections for maize flour prices in Goma
    Combined bar/line chart showing projected prices of maize flour in Goma.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Availability of agricultural labor: In this period of conflict, the supply and demand of labor are out of balance in Rutshuru territory. The cost of labor/agricultural day labor, which was about 5,000 CFA francs before the crisis, is currently 2,500 CFA francs for a morning's work, which represents a drop by half. This drop in the daily wage rate is also justified by the high availability of labor provided by displaced people who continue to arrive in the area. Supply therefore remains high in the face of declining demand, despite the harvest period. Daily labor remains the main source of income for displaced people living on the sites. 

    Livestock farming: The current M23 conflict in Rutshuru has caused a significant decline in livestock production. Populations fleeing the acts of violence committed by warring parties have sometimes moved with their livestock to displacement areas, particularly to the camps. However, these livestock do not receive veterinary care, live in proximity to humans, and are slaughtered in the IDP camps without any veterinary inspection.

    Nutritional situation: The nutritional situation in this area is not well known because no surveys have been conducted recently. The last SMART nutritional surveys date from July 2020 in the Rutshuru and Mbinza health area. However, trends in data on admissions of malnutrition cases to health facilities show a significant increase in cases in Rutshuru territory alone (244 percent), in the period from January to October 2022. This period coincides with the resumption of hostilities. 

    Cholera epidemic: The cholera epidemic currently raging in displacement sites could worsen this already precarious nutritional situation. According to OCHA, approximately 600 new cases of cholera are being recorded each day despite the fact that humanitarian workers are working on the ground to treat them. As of January 15, more than 1,193 cases have been reported. The city of Goma, which is close to IDP sites, is already experiencing cases of cholera.

    Humanitarian assistance: Overall, humanitarian assistance on the ground remains below the needs. For example, of the $77 million expected in 2022, only $27 million (or 35%) has been raised for the humanitarian response to people facing displacement outcomes, following the M23 rebellion crisis. The response to the crisis is currently concentrated in the health area of Nyiragongo, Kayna, and Karisimbi. However, this assistance covers less than 10 percent of the total population of the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, which has received a significant number of displaced people. 

    Food Consumption: Given the current humanitarian context, and successive less successful agricultural campaigns, households struggle to feed themselves. Indeed, the harvest of the agricultural season A, which was almost non-existent due to the displacement of farming households in the middle of the crop cycle, did not allow households to rely on their own production. The decline in stocks, the increase in food prices, and the drop in income are constraints on access to food, as households are more dependent on markets in a context of low purchasing power and difficulties in accessing farmlands. Humanitarian assistance has remained essential for households that have not been able to cultivate, with a significant consumption deficit, often made up by the food provided by humanitarian workers. The use of savings strategies (consuming less preferred and less expensive foods) by some households in the area is also noted, as is the dependence on host families and food assistance received from humanitarian partners. 

    Livelihood trends: Typically, households in the area are mostly made up of farmers. Given the conflicts in the area, household access to typical sources of income remains a major challenge. Access to land, already difficult in the past, becomes even more complicated with population movements. The current income of poor and displaced households comes mainly from the sale of gathered products (wood and charcoal), but also from daily labor from middle-income and wealthy households. These households also sell their livestock early to gain access to food. 

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario in Rutshuru territory from February to September 2023 is based on the following assumptions:

    •  Agricultural production: Although rainfall was favorable in this territory for the 2022/2023 A agricultural season, the widespread resurgence of violence in Rutshuru territory led to low household participation in season A harvesting activities. Access to seeds for farming households will remain a challenge, particularly for the upcoming B agricultural season, due to the very poor harvests of the previous season. This area may consecutively experience below-normal harvests throughout the scenario period. 
    • Market operations and food prices: Given the below-average agricultural production that may occur in the CD11 area (Rutshuru's Agricultural Volcanic Soils) because of persistent insecurity, the massive displacement of populations, and the closure of the Goma-Rutshuru and Rutshuru-Lubero road axes, prices for basic foodstuffs will rise throughout the projection period. These prices will remain above the five-year average with atypical fluctuations compared to the previous year, despite short periods of temporary declines to be observed during the first harvests of the B season in June 2023. 
    • Petty trade: Given the control of the Bunagana border, and control threats of other border posts such as Ishasha and Kasindi by the M23, informal activities related to cross-border petty trade will be drastically reduced, with a drastic drop in the level of income of local households and many others who make a living from this activity, and who will be profoundly affected by not being able to access their livelihoods. 
    • Humanitarian assistance: OCHA's Rutshuru - Nyiragongo - Lubero - Goma humanitarian response plan had received only 37 percent of the funds required (or US$27 million out of more than US$77 million expected) to assist those in need as the conflict and population movements continue. In the context of insufficient funds, humanitarian actors will not be able to provide sufficient assistance to displaced households and host families. This will lead to increasingly severe food insecurity in crisis areas.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    February to May 2023: This period will be marked by the sowing of the main food crops (March, April) and the start of the green harvest of the B agricultural season in late May 2023. However, given that a large proportion of the displaced agricultural population will not have returned, production will be lower than normal for food crops. Other households will be unable to access seeds after missing the previous growing season due to displacement. The state of road infrastructure and armed groups’ activities will disrupt commercial flow. Therefore, the territory will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, there may be an increase in the number of people experiencing significant food consumption deficits, who will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the health areas of Rwanguba and Bambo due to the total liquidation of livelihoods in these areas, marked by violence for more than eight months. 

    June to September 2023: Two-month post-harvest period (July-August) and the beginning of the lean season in Rutshuru territory. The situation of households throughout the area will be increasingly difficult with limited access to food due to the early depletion of stocks expected to occur in July. Food availability in the territory will be reduced due to the state of road infrastructure and attacks by armed groups that may continue. As a result, food consumption may deteriorate and households may resort to less expensive and less preferred foodstuffs or even rely on the solidarity of other households. Thus, the food security outcomes in this territory will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with a reduced proportion of people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Sud Kivu/ Fizi Territory/CD03 

    Current situation

    Security situation and population movements: Fizi territory is particularly affected by inter-ethnic conflicts backed by the interests of neighboring regional powers. Several armed self-defense groups from the Gumino and Twigwaneho communities of the Banyamulenge ethnic group are fighting other groups of the Bembe, Rega, Fuliru and Nyindu ethnic groups. The activism of these armed groups, who are fighting each other as well as the FARDC, has created several waves of displaced people. In addition to the movement of the population, there have been house burnings and the destruction of fields, theft and looting of livestock, targeted killings, and many other protection incidents. OCHA estimates that there will be more than 100,000 newly displaced people in Fizi territory by December 2022. In addition, the territory hosts more than 50,000 Burundian refugees. These refugees share the same resources with the indigenous population.

    Figure 5

    Reference map for the area of concern: Fizi territory, CD03
    Territoire de Fizi, CD03

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal progress: Fizi territory in the South Kivu highlands is an agropastoral area that belongs to the Center-East block, and is currently in the harvesting period of the A agricultural season. However, low participation of agricultural households is observed during the A season due to landslides of cultivated fields in some localities around Minembwe and the current conflict that has limited access to fields. Agricultural production, particularly of food crops such as maize and beans, remains below average. Agro-climatic conditions remained favorable for a normal crop cycle with excess rainfall in some localities. These rains destroyed nearly 500 hectares of vegetable and food crops in this area.

    Livelihoods and access to land: Normally, the sale of crops (beans, cassava, maize, sorghum) is the main source of household income, as it provides access to food. This source is followed by the sale of livestock products. Currently, displaced people perform daily agricultural labor for which they are paid, sometimes in cash (ex: 50 square meters for 5,000 CDF or three cups of “Guigoz”, about 2.5 kg of cassava flour), whereas before the conflict, the price of daily agricultural labor was 10,000 CDF. Access to paid land remains a challenge for most small-scale producers, who must pay 10,000 CDF to 15,000 CDF for a 625 square meter area for one cropping season. Overpopulation in the villages is causing farmland rental prices to rise. Access to farmlands for displaced households is difficult because they have to rent them before farming, whereas they lack the means to do so. 

    Availability of agricultural labor: The population density (approximately 100 inhabitants/sq. km) in the accessible area because of insecurity is a constraint that limits the size of cultivated land despite labor surplus. However, the demand for labor remains limited due to the decrease in the areas sown. 

    Market operation and food prices: In a context of low production, the territory continues to rely on imports from Tanzania via Lake Tanganyika to supply local markets with basic commodities. This situation also facilitates the availability of food in the markets, particularly for products imported from neighboring countries such as Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Basic foodstuff prices are above average due to constant pressure in demand resulting from low production, import dependency, and population movements (Figure 6).  For example, although the price of maize meal in Uvira, the main supply market for the area's secondary markets, will experience typical seasonal variations, supply will remain below demand during the scenario period, keeping prices above their typical level.

    Figure 6

    Projections for maize flour prices in Uvira
    Projection de prix de la farine de maïs à Uvira.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Livestock farming: The highlands of South Kivu are also a pastoral area where households make living from livestock farming, particularly poultry, large and small livestock. However, acts of violence by armed militias lead to the theft of livestock, especially during inter-community clashes. Another constraint in the operation of this activity is the lack of veterinary products. In addition, there are animal diseases such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), sheep and goat plague, African swine fever (ASF) and rinderpest. It should also be noted that this area lacks the means to process livestock products.

    Humanitarian assistance: Due to issues regarding physical access and security, food security interventions are only organized in the accessible health areas of Fizi and Nundu, which are considered to be host areas for displaced people coming from the highlands. According to OCHA’s humanitarian profile (January-December 2022), assistance has covered up to 60 percent of humanitarian needs in this territory. 

    Food security: Food security remains a concern in the territory. Food availability has been declining year after year since the conflicts began in 2020. The main sources of income for poor households in the area are the sale of crops, labor from the wealthy, the sale of wood, and petty trade. Currently, all of these sources of income are being disrupted by ongoing conflicts, which are reducing their income as well as households' access to food provided previously by their own production. Agropastoral production remains low. In source areas, fields have been abandoned by displaced people and dozens of livestock have been seized by armed groups. Displaced people depend primarily on the solidarity of host families, remittances, and other forms of mutual aid, thanks to humanitarian actors.

    Food consumption: The factors mentioned above do not allow households to obtain food. Indeed, stocks from the current agricultural season A, which is almost non-existent, rising prices and insecurity do not allow households to meet their food needs. According to field observations, one meal a day consists mainly of cassava flour pasta (fufu) and leaves (vegetables). Households are forced to resort to a few coping strategies to access food, including temporary work with indigenous people, at ridiculously low prices and below pre-crisis levels.

    Livelihood trends: Households in the highlands, mainly farmers (65 percent) and herders (35 percent), are experiencing limited access to or even loss of their sources of income because of the crisis. Those herders who have lost all their livestock have become farmers. 

    Household coping strategies: To make up for the shortfall in consumption, households are resorting to a number of coping strategies, such as “food-for-work”, reducing the number of daily meals, and consuming cheap and fewer preferred foodstuffs; other households are harvesting crops early and selling livestock at low prices. 

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario in Fizi territory from February to September 2023 is based on the following assumptions

    • Agricultural production: Given the anomalies in previous years marked by poor rainfall distribution with sequences of excessive rainfall causing flooding in Fizi territory, a similar situation is expected to lead to below-average agricultural production. This situation, which is occurring in an area that is deficient and under heavy pressure from displaced people and returnees, portends difficulties in accessing food in the short term, particularly for poor households.
    • Conflicts and population movements: According to information from the recent inter-agency mission to Fizi territory in January 2023, there have been reports of massive arrivals in several waves of displaced people from Minembwe to some localities in the Fizi health area. Most of these households have abandoned their crops and are dependent on the market and humanitarian assistance as sources of food. Continued clashes between different armed groups and those between armed groups and the FARDC-Burundian army coalition in the Minembwe highlands could create new population movements and reduce households’ access to fields. 
    • Market operations and food prices: Given the integration of markets in the Fizi and Uvira territories, trade is normal and will continue during the scenario period. Thus, the area will experience typical price trends during the upcoming lean season. From August to September 2023, prices will increase by around 10 percent and may stabilize or even drop from the second half of December 2023 with the green seasons expected at this time of the crop cycle. However, prices will remain significantly above the five-year average. 
    • Livelihoods of the people: During this period, as many of the displaced households have not been able to cultivate their fields, poor households will engage in more temporary agricultural and domestic work. Priority will be given to food expenses. Food assistance will be critical, and households may struggle to meet school and health expenses.
    • Availability of agricultural and non-agricultural labor: Given the presence of displaced people who did not have access to land during the last agricultural season and the presence of Burundian refugees in the camps, agricultural labor will probably be cheap for the middle and upper classes in the area, a labor which will work on the A season harvest and prepare for the next B season in March 2023.
    • Humanitarian assistance: The coverage of humanitarian response in Fizi territory will continue to remain low. This may exacerbate the outcomes of displaced and returning households who rely heavily on humanitarian assistance to improve their food security and living conditions.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    February to May 2023: This period will be marked by sowing in March-April and the start of the green harvest of the B agricultural season in late May 2023. However, since a significant portion of the displaced farming population will not be returning, the production of food crops will be lower than normal. Given the small early lean season B expected in the area in late March, household food consumption can be expected to deteriorate during this period, which will be marked by a moderate deficit. Poor and displaced households in the area will experience increased dependence on the market for their food consumption. Given the livelihood activities that are also disrupted by these conflicts, market access will be difficult and food assistance will be critical for these households, most of whom will resort to negative strategies, such as selling productive assets to access food. As a result, these households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    June to September 2023: The first two months of this scenario period will be marked by the B season harvest that will improve household food consumption. This production will remain below normal, in line with the security context in the area.  Between August and September, households will experience the effects of the early lean season, as their stock levels will be lower than normal. Some emergency survival strategies may be used. Therefore, the area will keep facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. DRC Food Security Outlook: February to September 2023: Consecutive seasons of below average production in the conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC, 2023.

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top