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Conflict continues to disrupt household livelihoods in affected areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • October 2018
Conflict continues to disrupt household livelihoods in affected areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 2018-2019 growing season A started in the northeastern and central eastern parts of the country in the midst of the continuing security crisis, with the sowing of the staple crops, including maize, groundnuts and beans. Although normal rainfall is forecast, access to agricultural inputs and insecurity are a constraint on the resumption of a normal season, especially for the thousands of returning households.

    • As at August 2018, some 514,251 people were newly displaced in the provinces of Maniema, Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This new displacement, which took place at the beginning of the growing season, could deny almost 100,000 farming households access to land and affect the level of agricultural production in these surplus areas and thus household food consumption.

    • In the Kasai region, there has been a significant influx of Congolese people expelled from Angola since early October 2018. Approximately 329,000 people had been recorded by 26 October 2018. They are scattered across the border territories of Kamonia and Luiza, putting significant pressure on local resources. This situation requires emergency humanitarian assistance to save lives and resume the process of their social reintegration. 

    • With regards to the epidemiological situation of the Ebola virus disease, the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri reported 276 cases, including 175 deaths, on 29 October. This epidemic could begin to affect the livelihoods of populations in affected areas already weakened by protracted armed conflicts.


    Current situation

    Insecurity and displacement: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with its unique situation of complex and protracted crisis, continues to face an alarming and unprecedented humanitarian situation. The resumption of hostilities by armed groups on several fronts and intercommunity violence in the eastern part of the country are paving the way for an uncertain future for those areas plagued by continued population displacement. This is the case mainly in Ituri, Maniema and the Kasai region. This situation has limited household access to resources and the accessibility of humanitarian assistance.

    The DRC has experienced the largest volume of new displacements worldwide over the past year, with 1.4 million people fleeing their homes in Kasai alone. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC is currently estimated at 4.49 million, representing the largest internally displaced population in Africa. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), almost one million Congolese people (811,000) have taken refuge in neighboring countries. Political instability in neighboring countries also continues to drive the movement of new refugees to the DRC from Southern Sudan, Burundi and the Central African Republic. UNHCR estimates that more than 541,702 refugees on Congolese soil at any time share the same resources and livelihoods with local peoples.

    The expulsion of Congolese people from Angola: Since the beginning of October 2018, the DRC has witnessed the expulsion of Congolese people accused of illegal immigration to Angola. According to the multi-sector assessment conducted in the Kasai region, 329,000 people have been expelled from northern Angola and have entered the DRC via the border crossings at Kamako in Kasai and Kalamamuji in Kasai Central. With porous borders, other Congolese people who returned voluntarily have been received in these areas, which may increase the number expelled from Angola. Upon their arrival, these expelled people are scattered across the villages surrounding the entry points.

    The Ebola epidemic: Present in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri since the beginning of 2018, Ebola may begin to disrupt the populations’ livelihoods in this difficult lean season.

    Markets and prices: In the former Katanga Province, there has been a significant increase in the price of corn flour since last September. The region relies on maize from Zambia for almost 70 percent of its supply. This situation can be explained by the measures taken by the Zambian Government to restrict imports of this product in order to conserve its national reserves. In Lubumbashi, for example, a 25 kg sack of maize sold for XAF 14,500 the previous month increased to XAF 30,000, or 107 percent in one month.

    Agriculture: In terms of agricultural constraints, Fall Armyworm has been reported in more than 22 provinces in the country is still widespread without an effective response to date. The same is true of the variegated grasshopper in the far north-east of the DRC (territories of Aru and Buta), which continues to decimate crops.

    According to estimates from the latest harvest assessment for June 2018, the DRC has a cereal deficit of around 11 million tons that represents only one third of this deficit. This concerning situation is mainly caused by multiple intercommunity conflicts and tensions resulting in the displacement of populations and is compounded by the various pests affecting crops. If this situation persists, affected populations could be trapped in a vicious cycle of food insecurity.


    The most likely scenario for October 2018 to May 2019 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

    • Rainfall: Weather forecasts show an improvement in rainfall in the area for the October 2018 to March 2019 period. There could be some anomalously heavy rainfall in the center-east and the far north-east as shown in the figure opposite. Overall, these forecasts should favor a normal growing season throughout the country.
    • Growing season A: Despite agroclimatic forecasts that would favor a normal agricultural season, new population displacements in Maniema and Ituri, as well as the massive influx of people expelled from Angola in the southern part of Kasai after the start of the growing season, could reduce household access to the fields for this growing season. Moreover, households do not have all the agricultural inputs required to plant as normal.
    • Ebola epidemic: Despite efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri through medical care and humanitarian assistance for case contacts and restricting access to the route to Mangina, which lies at the epicenter of the outbreak of the disease and is the main supplier of rice and plantain to Beni province, as well restrictions on the Kasindi route due to insecurity, the food situation in the area could deteriorate over coming months. Consequently, a gradual increase in food prices in the Beni area is to be expected over the next three months.
    • Support for returning/expelled people: In the absence of humanitarian assistance for the 329,000 people expelled from Angola in the Kamonia area, which already hosts displaced persons and which has been in need of food assistance since the start of the crisis in the Kasai region in 2016, the food security situation is expected to worsen.
    • Early lean season: Given the very poor harvests of previous seasons in the eastern central part of the country (Kasai region and Tanganyika), which were lower than average, households will have exhausted their food stocks at the start of this first scenario period. It is highly likely that the early start to the lean season in August 2018 could, from November, lead poor households to develop increasingly damaging and irreversible survival strategies throughout the eastern part of the DRC.
    • New population displacements: In the context of the country’s fragile political and economic situation, the failure to comply with the electoral timetable on the date initially planned could lead to demonstrations and in turn to new population movements, adding to the 4.49 million people already displaced in the country.
    • Markets and prices: According to the report published last September by the Development Indicators Analysis Unit (CAID), of the ten products monitored, compared with August 2018 prices, prices were stable for three commodities (beans, vegetable oil and salt) and increased for two, by 21 percent (local rice) and 11 percent (goat meat). Conversely, there was a decline over the same period, specifically for palm oil (-7 percent), corn flour (-6 percent), cassava flour (-33 percent), imported rice (-18 percent) and sugar (-8 percent). The exchange rate remained stable compared with the previous month, averaging 1,589 Congolese francs to 1 US dollar.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    October 2018 to January 2019: During the first half of this outlook period (October to November 2018), the populations of the northeast and central east parts of the country will be at the peak of the lean season, which occurred earlier than usual. The low household stocks from the previous season will be depleted and households will depend mainly on market purchasing as a source of supply, with prices subject to seasonal variations. The end of this period (December) will coincide with the first food crop/green harvests, in particular of maize, groundnuts and beans, which could facilitate access to food and improve household food consumption, thereby placing these areas under Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. Furthermore, the Ebola crisis in North Kivu and Ituri, which is already beginning to affect the livelihoods of the populations in the affected areas, could lead to a more difficult situation than usual, placing these areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Agricultural labor will be critical for poor households.

    Conversely, in the south of the Kasai and Kasai Central provinces, there will be increasing pressure on the poor harvests due to the presence of almost 329,000 Congolese people expelled from Angola, who will not have had the opportunity to work during this growing season. During this period, humanitarian assistance will be crucial in this area, which could drop into a worse phase in the absence of such assistance, placing the area in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    February to May 2019: This second outlook period will continue with the harvests of growing season A in both the northeast and central eastern parts of the country until early-March 2019. There may be an improvement in food consumption for a number of households that, at this time, will depend on their own output. Some areas that were in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) may become Stressed (IPC Phase 2). This will be the case for livelihood zone CD07 in Maniema and parts of Haut-Katanga (Pweto and Mitwaba).

    Much of the eastern part of the country could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), in particular Kasai and Kasai Central, parts of Tanganyika and Haut-Katanga (Pweto and Mitwaba), the Beni region and Djugu territory. Other areas in the south, including former Katanga, will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The second half of this period (April to May) will cover the peak lean season after stocks from the previous season have been depleted.

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Map of Seasonal Forecasts: October to December 2018, Potential for more than usual rainfall in the north and southwest

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Seasonal Forecasts: October to December 2018

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    Map of Seasonal forecasts: January to March 2019, Potential for more than usual rainfall in the north

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Seasonal forecasts: January to March 2019

    Source: NOAA/CPC

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

    Figure 3


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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