Cases of COVID-19 are currently stabilizing in the DRC with a declining epidemiological curve. However, there is an expansion of the pandemic to new provinces. Currently 20 provinces out of the 26 in the country have confirmed COVID-19 cases. The low coverage of daily testing, only 900 tests for a population of over 100 million, is concerning and if spread continues further restrictions could be implemented.
Despite the opening of borders with Rwanda and Uganda, but not Burundi, border crossing conditions remain a concern and a challenge for most small traders in the informal sector, who are obliged to form an association in order to make group purchases. This may lead to a reduction in the volume of transactions and would be detrimental to the incomes of these informal actors.
Agricultural season A is ongoing in the northeast and central-eastern parts of the country, which follows a poor season B, farm households. Thanks to the expected normal agro-climatic conditions farmers have begun planting main food crops, such as maize, beans and groundnuts. Unfortunately, difficulties in accessing inputs, such as seeds and pesticides, from neighboring countries in conjunction with COVID-19 restrictions and insecurity, it is expected that the Season A harvest will be below-average. This will reduce the availability of food at local markets in the harvest period between January and March.
Since July 2020, following the government's negotiation efforts with armed groups, there has been a relative lull in conflict in some areas of Ituri and Tanganyika through the cantonment of CODECO militiamen, the demobilization of the FRPI, and the return of approximately 194,000 people to Mahagi and Djugu territories in Ituri, while Tanganyika province had approximately 122,640 returnees by the end of August, according to OCHA. This situation will promote a resumption of agricultural activities for many households, which will be able to take advantage of the current period of sowing of food crops with locally sourced inputs.
The beginning of an early lean season is ongoing in the east of the DRC due to the poor performance of agricultural season B and poor households will experience difficulties in accessing food earlier than usual. Stable provinces in northern DRC such as Tshopo, Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele, will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through October, while some territories in the central-east, that are currently in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in September such as Manono and Kalemie in Tanganyika provinces, and Mwenga and Kalehe in South Kivu province, will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in October and November during the peak of the lean season and then return to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with the arrival of green harvests in December.