Food Security Outlook

Conflicts continue to disrupt household livelihoods in affected areas

October 2017

October 2017 - January 2018

February - May 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners. FEWS NET only maps the Eastern half of DRC.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners. FEWS NET only maps the Eastern half of DRC.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Not mapped
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The main growing season (Season A, with harvests extending from January through March) is gradually getting underway with the planting of major food crops across bimodal areas of the Northeastern, Southeastern, and Central-Eastern regions. It is off to a slow and, in some cases, tentative start in conflict areas of the Kasaï region and Tanganyika province, where there has been very little return migration by displaced households, who represent approximately 20 percent of the rural population in these areas.

  • According to NOAA forecasts, cumulative seasonal rainfall totals across the country will likely be average with the exception of the Southeast that may be below-average, particularly Haut-Katanga province. This will likely lead to normal crop performance, with generally good harvests at the end of this growing season.

  • The increased presence of government troops in the Kasaï region has led to approximately 106,000 IDPs (7.5 percent of the internally displaced population of the region) to return home in the last 18 months. This flow of return migration could come to a halt without timely assistance, which could trigger a cycle of continuous displacement.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current situation

The humanitarian situation in the DRC is a continuing source of concern. To date, the violence in the Kasaï region and Tanganyika and Sud-Kivu provinces has displaced more than 3.9 million people, with close to half this number in the Kasaï region alone. This crisis in the DRC is one of the world’s most dire long-term humanitarian crises, with at least 8.5 million people across the country in need of assistance and protection and nearly 2 million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition according to the UNOCHA. In addition, outbreaks of diseases such as cholera are affecting tens of thousands of people every year.

Close to half a million Congolese citizens have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including 33,000 people fleeing to Angola and, more recently, another 3,400 crossing from Tanganyika and Haut-Katanga provinces into Zambia since September 2017.

The situation has been even further exacerbated by the massive presence in the DRC of close to 564,000 refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring countries like Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic fleeing the political instability in these countries.

In spite of these mass population displacements, large numbers of refugees and DPs are reportedly returning to their villages, mainly in the Kasaï region, nearly all of which have been destroyed. The limited capacity of humanitarian organizations to assist these returnees is heightening the potential risk of new cycles of displacement and ethnic violence.

The 2016/2017 harvest was relatively smaller than usual with the displacement of 20 percent of the rural population. The latest IPC analysis in June 2017 showed 7.7 million people experiencing food insecurity in the DRC, of which 4.3 million were concentrated in the above-mentioned conflict areas, with growing rates of food insecurity.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for October 2017 through May 2018 is based on the following assumptions with respect to nationwide conditions:  

  • Rainfall: The NOAA is expecting average levels of rainfall for the 2017-2018 “A” growing season (Figure 2), which would enable households to engage in normal seasonal farming activities, except in certain parts of the Southeast (former Katanga province) where current forecasts are for below-average rainfall.
  • Early lean season: With the very poor, well-below-average harvests from previous growing seasons in the Central-Eastern part of the country (the Kasaï region and Tanganyika province), households will have depleted their food stocks by the beginning of the first half of the outlook period, with the lean season getting underway earlier than usual, or by August 2017.
  • Agricultural season A: With the fall armyworm « Spodoptera frugiperda » infestation of maize crops since the 2016-2017 “A” season and its extension into the 2017-2018 “A” growing season already reported in certain parts of Nord-Kivu, Katanga, etc., there will more than likely be further attacks by fall armyworms throughout the 2017-2018 “A” season which has just gotten underway without pest control efforts by local farmers as a result of the continuing nationwide awareness-raising campaign mounted by the country’s partners (the FAO  in particular).
  • Assistance for returnees: The failure to take steps to provide assistance to DPs returning to their home areas could trigger a cycle of continuous displacement and remobilization of youths seeking refuge with armed militia groups.
  • New population displacements: With the fragile politico-economic climate in the DRC, the failure to hold elections by the originally scheduled date could trigger demonstrations which, in turn, could potentially engender new population movements adding to the ranks of the country’s current displaced population of 3.8 million people.
  • Larger demand in Haut-Uélé province: The massive refugee presence from South Sudan would increase demand for the usual supply of food crops, which would distort food prices on markets in this part of the country.

Most likely food security outcomes

The entire southern part of the country will be in the midst of the lean season in the first half of the outlook period between October 2017 and January 2018, particularly the North-Central and Southeastern regions. Food security conditions in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), except in the Kasaï region and Tanganyika provinces, which will remain in a state of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) requiring humanitarian assistance to save lives and preserve local livelihoods.

The beginning of the harvest in the Northeastern and Central-Eastern regions in the second half of the outlook period, between February and May 2018, could bring relief to poor households, providing them with a supply of home-grown crops. On the other hand, the lean season in the Southeastern region will extend through April 2018, with a growing dependence on Zambia.

The lack of available food stocks will sharply reduce the flow of food supplies to the Kasaï region faced with an earlier than usual lean season from neighboring provinces and territories serving conflict-torn areas since the beginning of the crisis in August 2016. Poor households relying mainly on temporary on-farm and non-farm employment at this time of year will be dependent on market purchases for their food supplies, while their purchasing power is steadily eroded.  Without humanitarian assistance to this region, particularly food assistance, this part of Kasaï will remain in its current state of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for the entire outlook period in spite of the January harvest, which will be poorer than average. Thus, this region will remain in crisis. Certain households could start consuming green crops towards the end of January 2018. Households elsewhere in the country, particularly in the Northeast, will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity during the outlook period. 

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

USAID logoUSGS logoUSDA logo
NASA logoNOAA logoKimetrica logoChemonics logo