After a delayed start of the short rains in the Eastern Lowlands and Imbo Plains, rainfall in November was sufficient to support the development of crops. As a result of the delayed rainfall, though, maize crops are expected to be harvested one month late in the Imbo Plains and Eastern Lowlands, prolonging the lean period in these areas until January 2021. With normal rainfall since October, maize development is progressing normally in the highlands and will be harvested on time.
International flights recommenced at the beginning of November; however, land borders remain closed, causing delayed trade flows and reduced food supplies in some markets, especially for livestock products. Reduced supply, seasonality, and traders' speculative behavior are leading to abnormally high staple prices. Reduced cross-border income-earning opportunities continue to negatively affect households in areas bordering DRC and Tanzania. These factors, along with delayed harvest are expected to drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in the Eastern Lowlands and Imbo Plains livelihood zones through May.
Food prices are at their highest levels so far observed in 2020 and above the last five-year average, following a seasonal increase and disruptions to cross-border trade reducing supply on the market. Prices are markedly higher than the rest of the country in the Imbo Plains and Northern and Eastern Lowlands due to restricted cross-border trade linked to COVID-19 restrictions. Between June and October 2020, staple food prices increased between 10 and 50 percent. In October, the price of beans increased 44 percent from last year and 30 percent from five-year average levels. Bean prices are expected to decline slightly by December, ahead of the Season C harvest, but maize prices will likely increase until February 2021. However, despite these high prices and the lack of income opportunities, many households manage to meet their food needs thanks to the abundance of wild food resources in the rainy season.
Returnees continue to arrive from neighboring countries. In November, 7,194 Burundians voluntarily returned from Tanzania, Rwanda, and the DRC and received three-months of food assistance, likely supporting None! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes until January. The IDP population remains stable and many depend on humanitarian assistance supplemented by some casual labor opportunities, although limited following the border closures. IDPs are also likely facing None! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes. In addition, 50,000 Congolese refugees are accommodated in camps and receive continuous monthly assistance and are also likely facing None! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes. The remaining 31,000 urban refugees are without assistance and are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, able to minimally meet their food needs through remittances and some daily wages.