Burundi: Humanitarian Bulletin | Issue 1 | February 2017


  • Nearly one in ten people is severely food insecure

  • SAM rates surpass the critical threshold of 2% in Kirundo

  • Malaria outbreak in Burundi: more than 9 million cases and over 4,000 deaths since January 2017

  • CERF supports food security and protection (DTM) sectors with US$3.5 million

Nearly one million more people affected by food insecurity in 2 months

The estimated number of people affected by food insecurity increased from 2.1 million to 3 million between October 2016 and January 2017, which represents one quarter of the total population of 11 million Burundians. Nearly one million people are estimated to be severely food insecure1 compared to 806,000 in October 2016. While the most affected provinces are Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Muyinga, Kirundo, Ruyigi and Makamba, the whole country has been impacted at different levels.

This deterioration is due to a number of factors, including the succession of climatic hazards (rainfall deficit, floods and hail), a deficit in all the three harvests of 2016 and the resurgence of plant diseases and pests (caterpillars, cassava mosaic). Half of the households surveyed had no stock of staple food (beans, corn, sweet potatoes and cassava)2 , resulting in a prolonged lean season and a critical food insecurity situation. All these external shocks exacerbate a situation already weakened by the deterioration of the socio-economic situation that prevails in the country and affects all households.

Nearly 60% of the internal displacement recorded since October 2016 is motivated by natural disasters and lack of access to food and basic services.

About half a million severely food insecure people to be targeted by humanitarian partners

Following the latest surveys conducted in January 2017, which led to consultations between the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and other partners in the agricultural sector, members of the Food Security and Livelihoods sector initiated an emergency response.

The sector appealed for US$10 million to assist approximately half a million beneficiaries in the provinces of Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Kirundo, Makamba, Muyinga and Ruyigi.

The planned response consists mainly of restarting agricultural production of small producers who lost their crops in 2016 and helping them ensure they can plant during the new agricultural season 2017B. This assistance should help reduce the use of negative coping strategies, such as the sale of productive capital, displacement, theft in the fields and transactional sex.

In order to provide a rapid emergency response, an allocation of US$3 million from CERF (Central Emergency Response Fund) was provided: US$2 million for food aid and US$1 million for agricultural inputs. Approximately 120,000 people, a quarter of the total population targeted, will benefit from this allocation in the provinces of Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Cankuzo and Muyinga. FAO is planning seed distributions (obtained through national fairs) and other agricultural inputs to support the upcoming 2017B agricultural season, which started at the end of February. This assistance will be coupled with the distribution of protective food rations (half-rations) to ensure beneficiaries do not resort to the use of seeds for feeding purposes.

With these funds, WFP completed in a few days, the first food distribution to 15,000 people located in the 14 most affected hills (collines) in the province of Bubanza. Highly vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with disabilities and pregnant women were prioritised. However, 7,700 vulnerable people still need to receive this support package to complete the assistance in Bubanza.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, additional calls for funding have been made to donors.

In the absence of an emergency response which sufficiently addresses the urgent needs of agricultural inputs, food and cash, the numbers of severely food insecure people would rapidly increase. Moreover, the next harvest will be crucial: “If the rains expected in April and May do not come,
Burundi will face a serious humanitarian crisis by July” warns the WFP Country Director ai, Charles Vincent.

Similarly, households experiencing moderate food insecurity could shift to the severe phase in the coming months. The above factors, together with the rising food prices, low market supply and increasing unemployment, will be crucial in determining food insecurity levels in the next months.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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