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Country Briefs

  Democratic Republic of the Congo

Reference Date: 17-November-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Average to below average 2017 season crops due to reduced planting area, erratic rainfall in parts and invasion of Fall Armyworms

  2. Inflation rates forecast to slightly increase in 2017

  3. Food and livestock prices at high levels driven by limited supplies and ongoing conflict which continue to disrupt markets

  4. Humanitarian crisis in Kasai Region and extension of inter-communal conflicts in Tanganyika Region and in eastern part of country continue to deteriorate food security situation

Uncertain general prospects for 2017 season crops

Harvesting of the main 2017 maize crop is underway in northern and central areas, while crops in southern regions are still at the vegetative stage and will be harvested early next year. Overall, seasonal cumulative rainfall amounts were average, with the exception of some southeastern parts of the country that experienced a few dry spells and received below average cumulative amounts. Aggregate production of the 2017 season crops is expected at average to below average level due to reduced planting area in conflict zones of Kasai and Tanganyika as well as attacks of Fall Armyworms mainly at the sowing stage of the second maize crop particularly in North Kivu and Katanga regions.

Inflation rates forecast to slightly increase in 2017, food prices remain at high levels due to disruption of markets by ongoing conflict

Inflation, which stood at 46 percent in 2009, fell to 1 percent in 2013 and remained stable at this level in 2014 and 2015 as a result of the implementation of economic reforms and tighter fiscal and monetary policies. In 2016, inflation rates are estimated to have slightly increased to 1.7 percent due to a relatively strong economic growth and a loosening fiscal policy which boosted domestic demand. In 2017, inflation rates are forecast to continue to grow to about 2.7 percent.

The local currency has depreciated significantly against the US dollar over the past months, resulting in more expensive and reduced imports from neighbouring countries and consequent significant upward pressure on domestic food supplies and prices. This contributed to the decline in the purchasing power of poor households. As of November 2017, the Congolese franc has depreciated by about 36 percent compared to November 2016.

There has been an upward trend in food prices in recent months caused by the ongoing conflict in the Kasai and the Tanganyika regions which continue to disrupt markets for food and livestock. Countrywide, cereal prices are generally high driven by the limited supplies. In the Tanganyika Region, in the last six months, there has been a surge of dependence on cross-border flows from the United Republic of Tanzania, resulting in almost doubling the local prices of maize and cassava.

Food security situation continues to sharply deteriorate due to persisting civil conflict

The escalation of the civil conflict since 2013, especially in eastern and southern provinces, severely disrupted local livelihood systems and caused massive population displacements. Since September 2016, the Kasai Region is facing a major humanitarian crisis and the conflict has caused the displacement of about 1.4 million people. As of October 2017, the total IDP caseload in the country was estimated at 3.9 million.

A significant portion of IDPs are hosted by local families and communities, putting added strain on their limited resources with the high risk to further push them into unsustainable coping mechanisms and livelihood strategies. Moreover, as of late June 2017, the country hosts about 102 000 refugees from the Central African Republic, 81 000 from South Sudan and 44 000 from Burundi. Most households are facing serious food access constraints. The quantity of food intake has reduced and the dietary diversity has also drastically diminished by the substitution of more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples with cassava and the sharp reduction of animal proteins intake. This widespread dietary deterioration raises serious concerns of having a dire effect in terms of nutrition and health. The food situation is particularly severe in the Kasai Region.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), valid for the period from June to December 2017, about 7.7 million people (11 percent of the total population) were in need of urgent assistance (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”). The humanitarian crisis in the Kasai Region and the extension of inter-communal conflicts in the Tanganyika Region and in the eastern part of the country are the key drivers of the deterioration of food insecurity. In addition, internal displacement and above average malnutrition rates exacerbated the already aggravated situation and fueled the increasing food insecurity.

In the framework of the 2017-2019 Humanitarian Action Plan, FAO is expected to assist 2.1 million people (about 350 000 households), mainly residing in North-Kivu, South-Kivu, Ituri, Haut Uélé, Maniema, Tanganyika, Bas Uélé, North-Ubangi and South-Ubangi provinces.

The main activities include:

  1. Support to food production through agricultural, fishing and livestock rearing input distributions.

  2. Cash-for-work activities.

  3. Promotion of income-generating activities, particularly for vulnerable women.

  4. Strengthening household 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’ group and women’s associations.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.