Burundi Breaking News Update: Below-Average Seasonal Harvest and High Food Prices to Impact North and East (May 2023) – Burundi

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Current Season A harvests and recent improvements in cross-border trade due to the removal of Covid-19-related tariffs have increased household stocks sufficiently and stabilized staple food prices to sustain minimal (IPC Phase 1) impacts in western Burundi. However, the harvest is below average, especially in the north and east; Food prices also remain high and income-generating opportunities are limited.

Stressful (IPC Phase 2) results are expected in Eastern Burundi, while Critical (IPC Phase 3) results are expected in the Northern Lowland Livelihood Zone, where food reserves are already nearly depleted.

In April, staple food prices were 50 to 85 percent above the five-year average and 70 to 135 percent above last year’s average, with beans and cassava prices up 77-85 percent from last year. Season A harvest, lower food supply compared to previous years, depreciation of the Burundian Franc (BIF) and higher cost of production including labour, fertilizers and other inputs are the main factors pushing up prices. Weak currency reserves contribute to the depreciation of the BIF, with the parallel exchange rate ranging from 75 to 100 percent above the official exchange rate.

Overall, the inflation rate remains high, exceeding 30 percent during the reporting period. High prices limit poor households’ access to adequate and nutritious food, particularly in the north, where households have already cut back on their own food production.

Food security outcomes in the Northern Lowland Livelihood Zone are expected to improve under pressure (IPC Phase 2) after the Season B harvest in June. Above-average rainfall in March and April contributed to increased soil moisture that was generally favorable for season B crop growth. In addition, increased availability of fertilizers and other inputs due to government interventions will support nationally average season B grain and root/tuber harvests, offsetting the decline in seasonally cultivated areas. However, the bean harvest is still expected to be below average as beans are moisture sensitive. Crops that can tolerate plenty of rain, such as tubers, cereals and bananas, are expected to do well. According to information provided by the WFP, some 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers have received half of their food rations due to lack of funds. They will face stressful (IPC Phase 2) consequences till September. Refugees and asylum seekers rely on assistance from WFP and other partners because they have limited income or employment opportunities. A combination of reduced ration size and average food prices is expected to further exacerbate the food insecurity of these households and limit their ability to meet their daily food needs.

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To address this situation, the government has provided labor employment opportunities outside refugee camps to give refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to increase their income and improve access to food. However, available employment opportunities are low in labor demand, limiting their ability to secure employment and earn income.

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