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GIEWS Country Brief: Democratic Republic of the Congo 23-September-2019

DR Congo
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  • Below-average 2019 harvest expected due to floods, pests and conflict

  • Low market supplies and weak local currency put upward pressure on food prices

  • Persisting civil conflict continues to severely affect food security

Below-average 2019 harvest expected due to floods, pests and conflict

In northern Equatorial and Oriental provinces, harvesting of the 2019 main season maize will start in October, while planting of the main season maize crops is about to be completed in central provinces and harvesting is expected to begin in November. In these areas, the 2019 secondary season maize harvest was concluded in July under favourable weather conditions.

In the uni-modal (former) Katanga Province in the south, the 2019 cropping season was concluded in June and planting of the 2020 maize crops is expected to start in November.

Across the country, adequate and well-distributed precipitation during most of the season benefited crops. However, localized heavy rains, particularly in the agro-pastoral mountains of South Kivu Province, resulted in flooding and damage to crops.

Significant crop losses were reported throughout the country due to infestations of Fall Armyworm, particularly in maize-growing regions. Furthermore, the ongoing conflicts in Kasai, North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika provinces continue to disrupt agricultural activities, including planting.

Despite generally favourable rainfall amounts, the 2019 cereal output is expected slightly below average due to the impact of floods, pests and conflict.

Low market supplies and weak local currency put upward pressure on food prices

Inflation decelerated during the last three years and, in 2019, it is forecast to decline further at about 8.4 percent, 20 percentage points below the level registered in 2018 and about one-fifth of the rate recorded in 2017. Despite the slowdown in price increases, the cost of key cereal products still remains high. Prices increased steeply between June and July 2019, mostly due to limited supplies prior to the main harvest period and a weak local currency. Prices rose particularly in the southeastern parts of the country. For instance, in the cities of Goma (located in the North Kivu Province) and Kananga (Kasai Occidental Province), prices of maize flour increased by more than 20 and 15 percent, respectively, between June and July 2019. Prices of imported rice also rose in the cities of Uvira (South Kivu Province) and Kananga, by about 10 and 15 percent month on month, respectively.

Due to the estimated below average secondary season harvests, which resulted in limited supplies available in the markets, the lean season has started one month earlier than usual: in August in the north and central eastern provinces, and in September in the south eastern provinces.

Persisting civil conflict continues to severely affect food security

Ongoing insecurity continues to cause massive population displacements in eastern and southern areas, leading to widespread disruption of agricultural and marketing activities, with a severe negative impact on food availability and access.

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), valid for the period from July to December 2019 and covering 109 of the 145 territories of the country, estimated that about 16 million people (26 percent of the analyzed population) are severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”). The provinces with the largest number of severely food insecure people are Ituri, Kasai, Kasai Central, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganika. In these areas, most households face serious food access constraints and the dietary diversity has drastically diminished. Since late 2014, animal protein intake fell sharply and cassava substituted the more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples.

As of 31 May 2019, the country hosted about 537 000 refugees. About 217 000 came from Rwanda, 173 000 from the Central African Republic, 101 000 from South Sudan and 45 000 from Burundi. About 50 percent of refugees were hosted in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, while the remaining 50 percent was located in the northern provinces of South-Ubangi, North-Ubangi, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Ituri.

In addition, the Ebola virus disease continues to be a growing and serious concern since its first outbreak in August 2018 and, as of 15 September 2019, the WHO reported that a total of 3 129 people have been affected, of which 2 096 have died.

In the framework of the Humanitarian Response Plan 2017‑2019, FAO assists the crisis-affected households and supports the establishment of income-generating activities.

The main activities include:

Restore livelihood production through the provision of agricultural inputs; improve the conservation, processing and marketing of agricultural products; and promote the sustainable management of natural resources.

Support vulnerable households in Ebola-affected areas through livelihood activities (such as training, seed multiplication, cash-based transfers, vegetable and crop production, small livestock).

Implement income-generating activities through cash for work and conditional cash transfers, especially for women and farmer organizations.

Strengthen households’ resilience through the implementation of the “Caisses de Résilience”, a community-centred approach which brings together sustainable agricultural practices, improved access to credit and strengthened social cohesion through farmers’ groups and women’s associations.

As of July 2019, FAO reached 1.1 million people, which were provided in total with almost 4 000 kg of cereal and vegetable seeds, and 186 000 agricultural kits. These allowed beneficiaries to cultivate about 73 000 hectares of land and produce 30 000 tonnes of food for an estimated 161 million meals. In addition, USD 2.1 million were transferred to beneficiaries through “Caisses de Résilience” activities.