Below-average rainfall likely to lead to localized crop losses in Northern Lowlands Livelihood zone
Below-average Season A rainfall forecast in FEWS NET’s October Food Security Outlook is causing dry conditions which are negatively affecting maize and bean crops in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone. More than 50 percent of planted crops in localized areas have been destroyed by drought in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone, according to key informants. Combined with increased food prices, crop damange leading to an expected reduced January havest, will prolong food security deterioration confirmed by preliminary data from October 2020’s SMART survey. Thus, the Northen Lowlands is expected to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity for the period of January to May 2021.
Preliminary data from the SMART survey conducted by the Ministry of Health during the September/October 2020 lean period found average levels of seasonal food insecurity, but notable deterioration in the Northern Lowlands livelihood. The national GAM prevalence (WHZ), 6.1 percent, increased slightly compared to January 2019, while the GAM prevalence in Kirundo (Northern Lowlands livelihood zone) increased three percent from January 2019 levels, reaching seven percent.
The ongoing lean period is made more challenging for poor and very poor households by lack of cross-border income earning opportunties related to COVID-19 restrictions as well as continued above-average staple food prices. October 2020 bean prices were 50 percent higher than October 2019 prices and 30 percent higher than the five-year average. Sweet potato prices were also above last year and five-year average prices, 10 and 32 percent respectively. All borders remain formally closed, however, according to key informants, there has been increased informal movement across the Tazanian border in recent weeks.
Around 26,100 returnees who arrived from Tanzania and Rwanda before October were unable to cultivate 2020 Season B crops and have exhausted the three-month humanitarian assistance they receive upon arrival. Most returnees are located in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands livelihood zones. Despite limited own agricultural production and reduced income sources, returnees are accessing vegetables and greens from the Season A crops, taking advantage of some local agricultural labor opportunities and are therefore expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through February 2021.