25 July 1997


The food security situation in Burundi has been deteriorating steadily since 1993 due to civil strife, large population displacement and reduced agricultural production. This situation was further aggravated by an economic embargo imposed by the neighbouring countries which resulted in insufficient availability of agricultural inputs, price increases, and subsequently in a deterioration of access to food by poor households and internally displaced people.

Against this background, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded to Burundi from 18 June to 1 July 1997 to evaluate the 1997B season crop production (harvested from June), assess early prospects for the third crop (to be harvested in September), and, on the basis of its findings, to estimate the country's import and food aid requirements for the remainder of 1997. To achieve these objectives, the Mission held extensive discussions with Government officials and UN specialized agencies (UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR); and visited as many provinces as the prevailing security situation permitted. Prior to the Missionís arrival, a pre-evaluation survey had been conducted throughout the country with the assistance of an FAO TCDC expert.

The Mission found that overall, the season benefited from improved security, input supply and better weather conditions compared to the 1997A season. However, fertilizers were distributed too late in some cases, the quantity of quality seeds was insufficient, and limited pesticides were available.

The Mission estimates food production for the 1997B season at 1.7 million tons, which represents an increase of 4 percent over the 1996 harvest. Prospects for 1997C season are uncertain and will depend on the evolution of the security situation, weather conditions and supply of agricultural inputs. Provided that these conditions evolve positively during the coming months, the Mission provisionally forecasts aggregate food production in 1997 at 3.52 million tons, less than 1 percent higher than 1996 and 4 percent lower than the 1988-93 average. However, the provisional nature of these estimates must be emphasized; should any of the underlying factors evolve negatively, the output would be reduced. In any event, it is evident that production of these main food products has failed to keep pace with the growth in population. Assuming a mid-1997 population of 5.98 million and average consumption requirements based on reduced amounts available during 1994-96, import requirements for cereals, pulses, roots, tubers, bananas and plantains in 1997 are estimated at the equivalent of 128 000 tons of cereals, an amount well in excess of realistic possibilities.

In contrast, commercial imports are forecast at 3 000 tons of cereals and 12 000 tons of pulses, leaving gaps of 17 000 tons of cereals, 44 000 tons of pulses and 52 000 tons (cereal equivalent) of roots, tubers, bananas and plantains. As of 30 June 1997, food aid distributed by WFP amounted to 6 000 tons of cereals and 3 000 tons of pulses. Another 16 000 tons of cereals and 5 000 tons of pulses are expected to be provided by year end. If so, the cereal/pulse shortfall would be reduced to 31 000 tons and the deficit in roots/tubers and bananas/plantains (in cereal equivalent) of 35 000 tons and 14 000 tons respectively would remain unmet. Another reduction in per caput food consumption is in prospect.

The total 1997 production of pulses, a main staple food, is estimated to be 4 percent below 1996 and 16 percent below the 1988-1993 average. In contrast, cereal production is estimated to be 10 percent above 1996 and about equal to the pre-crisis average. Production of roots, tubers, bananas and plantains, taken together, are about the same as in 1996 but 3 percent below average. Moreover, traders are now buying pulses produced during the B season and exporting them to neighbouring countries where they can make substantial profits because of the prevailing favourable exchange rates at the borders and low production in those countries. This situation aggravates the serious food security problem between now and the year-end. Moreover, farmers may not have kept enough seeds for 1998A season plantings to avoid buying them at very high prices.

As a result of continuing insecurity in the country, including the policy of "regroupement" being pursued by the Government, the population living in camps is currently estimated at some 665 000 or 11 percent of the total. A significant proportion of this population were not in a position to cultivate their land during the last agricultural season and are therefore highly food-insecure. Malnutrition among both adults and children is now widespread and hundreds of cases of kwashiorkor and marasmus have been admitted in therapeutic units in the most affected provinces. While food assistance has been provided over the past few months, it is now considered that the volume of such assistance will need to be significantly increased in the coming months. Malnutrition cases come essentially from two population groups (or a combination of both):

Against the above background, the Mission estimates that emergency food aid requirement for cereals and pulses will be some 16 000 tons and 5 000 tons respectively for the second half of the year.


Agriculture is Burundi's main economic activity. Some 90 percent of the population work the land and produce over 50 percent of GDP. Women are responsible for 70 percent of production. Much of the Burundian industry is involved in food processing; it produces flour, milk products, sugar, cotton seed-oil and animal feed, as well as tea and coffee. The industrial sector contributed 21 percent of GDP in 1993, but has since been badly affected by the ongoing civil strife. Coffee is the main cash crop and provides some 85 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings. Other cash and export crops are cotton and tea. Imports have traditionally been mostly manufactured goods, but since 1994 food imports have become significant.

2.1. Agriculture and Food Security

Burundian soils are generally fertile and the country was self-sufficient in food until 1993. Some 90 percent of the arable land is devoted to foodcrops which are the main source of the population's energy intake. Cereals, beans, roots and tubers and bananas provide, respectively, some 28 percent, 27 percent, 26 percent and 8 percent of energy, while animal products provide less than 3 percent of the calorie and protein intake.

Due to the political instability, Burundi is now heavily reliant on food aid to avert the starvation of thousands, particularly its internally displaced and refugee populations. A large number of farmers are displaced. Inputs are in short supply and too expensive for most farmers. The transport needed to move agricultural produce, and the insecurity of city and town markets have all acted as disincentives for producers. In 1994 food production was 80 percent of the normal level of 1993. With improved security conditions in 1995, production recovered and the aggregate food output was only 3 percent lower than in 1993. In 1996 renewed insecurity, adverse weather conditions, and the economic embargo by neighbouring countries resulted in a sharp decline in production. Despite the increase in food imports, however, consumption of cereals and pulses has been falling since 1993.

The economic embargo, which was relaxed recently, exacerbated the adverse effects of the civil strife, reducing economic activity and incomes and resulting in a deterioration of the food supply situation. Although there has been a relative improvement in security during the first half of the year, the situation remains extremely volatile. Nevertheless, a long-term issue is that Burundi's cultivable land is over-farmed and yields from it are faltering. Food production per head has fallen 20 percent in the last 20 years.

2.2. Recent Population Developments

The deterioration of the agricultural and food situation in Burundi is due, to a large extent, to the long lasting civil unrest (since 1993). As a result of the recurrent violence, leading to insecurity in many provinces, there is a continuous movement of people back and forth, within or outside the country. Consequently, there is considerable uncertainty about population in the country. However, the available estimates show that out of a population of 5 980 000 people, about 665 374 (11 percent) are living in 265 campsites (see Table 1). This is an increase of 160 000 internally displaced people (IDPs) over the 500 000 people in early 1997. These people are usually subdivided into four categories: There is growing concern among UN agencies and the donor community and NGOs over the capacity of the affected farmers to produce or buy all the food they need if the camps they live in are far away from their farms. In this connection, the government has declared its commitment to dismantle all the camps as and when security permits.

Table 1 - Burundi: Estimate of Internally Displaced People
Province  Total population  No of sites  Population of sites  % of total population
Bubanza  270 210  23  71 229  26.4
Bujumbura Rural  670 498  35  35 338  5.3
Bururi  423240  12  44 199  10.4
Cankuzo  157 535  3 254  2.1
Cibitoke  353 137  13  57 428  16.3
Gitega  625 017  15  20 997  3.4
Karuzi  334 213  25  142 945  42.8
Kayanza  491 506  22  114 123  23.2
Kirundo  448 195  16  20 072  4.5
Makamaba  254 732  14  44 597  17.5
Muramvya  487 736  23  46 017  9.4
Muyinga  427 119  30  35 852  8.4
Ngozi  535 978  14  21 530  4.0
Rutana  219 360  3 675  1.7
Ruyigi  281 524  12  4 118  1.5
Total Country  5 980 000  265  665 374  11.1
Source: FAO Agricultural Coordination Unit.

As of June 1997, the security situation is still volatile in several provinces of the country, especially in Nyanza Lake, Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces, and even Bujumbura Rural. Mines are being found in some areas. Because of this, some of the farms were not cultivated and the Regional Agriculture Departments (DPAE) cannot send their staff to all areas to ensure good extension coverage. The food situation of those with no access to land is extremely precarious and continues to deteriorate.



3.1. Production in the 1997 A season

The 1997A season (September 1996 to January 1997) was marked by a combination of negative factors which resulted in a reduction of planted area and yields in comparison with the previous years A season. Total food production is estimated at some 1 205 000 tons against 1 296 000 tons in 1996A and an average of 1 475 000 tons for the pre-crisis period of 1988-1993, or a decrease of around 7 percent and 18 percent respectively. This output includes some 148 000 tons of cereals (12.3 percent), 104 000 tons of pulses (8.6 percent), 471 000 tons of roots and tubers (39.1 percent), and 482 000 tons of bananas (40 percent).

3.2. Production in the 1997 B season

Planted area

The first estimates confirmed by the field visits in different provinces show an increase in the planted area as compared to 1996B. This can largely be explained by the improved security situation in many provinces and by the new strategy of building up stocks of inputs to face the embargo. The increase in planted area was principally for beans, cassava, and sweet potatoes. At the campsites, the Internally Displaced People (IDP) had access to more land and received more inputs (seeds, fertilizers, and light cultivation equipment) from the donor community. However, most of the seed was not quality seed but seed acquired from local farmers.


Good and timely land preparation, improved security and the good rainfall enabled the crops to develop adequately. Fertilizers were made available to farmers on time and, more often than not, in sufficient quantities. Pesticides were not imported but they are normally applied to only a few crops. All these favourable conditions enabled farmers in many provinces to increase their yields and reach the average yield of the pre-crisis period. The data of a recent survey that is currently being processed will give more detailed indications on the level of yields actually obtained.


Food crop production during the 1997B season is estimated at 1 745 248 tons, representing an increase of 4 percent over 1996B production. Cereals account for 182 843 tons (+18 percent), pulses 185 854 tons (+2 percent), roots and tubers 714 039 tons (+5 percent) and bananas 662 512 tons (+1 percent).

3.3 Total 1997 Food Crop Production

The total 1997 production for these crops, including a tentative estimate for 1997C season, as indicated in Table 2, shows an increase of less than 1 percent over 1996 production. However, total production would still be about 4 percent below the 1988-1993 average, with pulse production 16 percent below the average.

Table 2 - Burundi: Estimated 1997 Foodcrop Production by Season and Commodity (Ď000 tons)
Commodity  Average  
1997 Production  1997 as % 
of average 
1997 as  
% of 1996
1988-1993  First season  Second season  Third season  Total  1988-1993 
Cereals  298  273  148  138  14  300  101  110
Pulses  369  324  104  186  20  310  84  96
Roots and Tubers  1 433  1 364  471  714  203  1 388  97  102
Bananas/Plantains  1 563  1 544  482  663  382  1 527  98  99
TOTAL  3 663  3 505  1 205  1 701  620  3 526  96  101

3.5 Livestock

Since the beginning of the crisis in 1993, the livestock sub-sector suffered heavy losses estimated in 1996 at 20 percent of the cattle (448 726 head). The small-stock and poultry were more affected by theft, losses and illegal exports.

A national livestock rehabilitation programme is being developed with the main objective of reconstituting the stock of animals up to the pre-crisis level. This programme relies on the private sector, the promotion of small-stock and a closer integration of livestock, crop production and forestry. The Direction Générale de líElevage is currently conducting a national survey to provide a firmer basis for the programme.



4.1 Bubanza

After the return of peace in the province, the agricultural activities were rather normal up to June, when troubles started again in Cibitoke, a province close to Bubanza. Preparations for the season were adequate and the rains arrived on time except in the Randa area. No fertilizers were received and the bean seed was distributed late. As compared to 1996B, the cultivated area was larger due to the increase of area cultivated by displaced people living in the camps. The crops were not particularly affected by drought or pests.

Since the departure of 64 extension field agents from the DPAE at the beginning of the B season because of budget constraints, farmers did not receive adequate technical advice. However, crops benefited from the favourable weather conditions, except the bean crop which suffered from the heavy rains. Following the first harvest, prices declined but only for a short while because of massive purchases by traders from Bujumbura.

The health and nutrition situation is still precarious despite notable improvements observed in some campsites (at Ngara, for example). The number of severely malnourished cases in the therapeutic unit of Bubanza hospital seems to have decreased lately, which could be due to the recent harvest but also to a breakdown of the referral system due to insecurity.

4.2 Bujumbura-Rural

Although security in the province is much better than in 1996B, Mubimbi and Muhita communes (close to the troubled commune of Burambi in Bururi province), have been subjected since April to continuous disturbances which spread all over the province. The population has been forced to abandon their farmlands and seek shelter in more secure areas.

Dry weather in February caused late sowing of crops. The planted area was generally larger than in 1996B, except for beans, the area of which was reduced by about 20 percent. As in other communes, the requested quality seeds of beans were not delivered. Overall, the province received 96 tons of fertilizers (DAP) and 10 tons of potato seeds.

By and large, all crops developed satisfactorily, except beans which suffered slightly from excess water and devastation by an invasion of field mice. It should be noted that some crops, such as cassava, are not being systematically replanted because of insecurity. Likewise, for bananas, production continues to decrease because of lack of maintenance and the effects of the bunchy-top disease.

Agricultural prices are still very high in the whole province because a large proportion of the production flows out to feed people living in Bujumbura. The health and nutrition situation is serious, particularly in the communes of Muhuta and Mubimbi. Severe malnutrition (kwashiorkor and marasmus) among both children and adults, combined with epidemics of diarrhea diseases (dysentery, cholera), has resulted in a significant increase in mortality.

4.3 Bururi

During the 1997B season, the security situation has deteriorated in all communes of the province, particularly in Rumonge, Buyengero and Burambi. The majority of the population has been moved to campsites, following the destruction of their homes and food stocks. There is currently a progressive return of the displaced people in all communes except in a few zones in Rumonge (Minago and Kizuka), Burambi (Mariza), and Buyengero (Mudende). In these three communes continuous civil strife has disrupted agricultural activities and reduced production by up to 50 percent.

In addition, there were shortages of bean seed and potato planting material, and the planted area decreased by 20 percent as compared to 1996B. Input needs were not satisfied and only 50 tons of fertilizers (DAP) and 20 tons of potato seeds were distributed, mainly for use in seed multiplication centres.

As regards weather conditions, the months of April and May were characterized by heavy rains, which adversely affected beans and Irish potatoes. On the whole, crop development has been satisfactory, particularly for roots and tubers. However, some pests and diseases were noticed on sorghum and potatoes.

Before harvest, markets were not sufficiently supplied, due to the destruction of food stocks and cattle thefts and displaced people were forced to harvest their beans, sweet and Irish potatoes prematurely. Malnutrition is widespread among IDPs in the communes of Rumonge, Burambi and Buyengero.

4.4 Cankuzo

This is one of the few provinces which was not affected during the recent crisis. There has been an increase in plantings in relation to the 1996B season due to the cultivation of lands left by Rwandan refugees in 1994 (5 000 households) by displaced people from other provinces. Abandoned lands are now estimated to be minimal. Arable land is relatively abundant in the province but the use of fertilizers is minimal, mainly for potato crops.

Despite the drought during the 1997A season, bean seed has been relatively abundant in the different markets, although at high prices. By contrasts, shortages of potato seeds were experienced. The first rain occurred in the first week of March 1997 and heavy rains arrived in the last dekad of April, particularly in the Buyogoma region, thus reducing yield potential of late planted crops. However, overall normal yields have been obtained.

Food prices have temporarily declined, reflecting the good harvest. Overall, the nutrition situation is considered normal.

4.5 Cibitoke

Security has deteriorated since May 1997 in the communes of Murwi, Mabayi and Bukinanyana. The population repatriated from Zaire has been regrouped in Buganda and Rugombo and had access to land allocated by the Administration. The planted area increased (about 30 percent) following the massive return of displaced people on one hand, and, on the other, the free distribution of bean seeds (158 tons) by the humanitarian organizations. The 10 tons of fertilizers (DAP), ordered from the Direction Générale de líAgriculture, and the maize seeds (30 tons), were delivered very late.

Rainfall was sufficient and regular, thus enabling the normal development of all crops. Although the Mission could not visit this province in June, the contacts made in May indicated good prospects for the 1997B harvests. Due to insecurity, certain markets were not sufficiently supplied with foodstuffs, thus causing price increases which were reinforced by informal exports to neighbouring Rwanda. The health and nutrition situation, similar to that of Bubanza, is critical due to major security problems in the province which also considerably reduce access of humanitarian agencies.

4.6 Gitega

The security situation is stable in the whole province except the communes of Ryansoro, close to Bururi province, which had problems during May. Several houses and food stocks were destroyed during the turmoil.

All the fertilizer needs were covered this season. Since almost all farmers use fertilizers on the bean crop in this province (which consumes about half of the total amount used in the country), good yields are expected. Moreover, there has been an increase in the planted area this season. Land abandoned due to population displacement is estimated at about 5 percent. Rainfall was enough with some excess, which affected beans and increased plant diseases on potatoes. Other crops like cassava and sweet potatoes developed very well. There were no pesticides available to control various pests and diseases.

Food prices are still very high, with the first harvested beans selling at FBU 180/Kg. Overall, however, it appears that the food and nutrition situation of the population has improved, with the exception of the northern part of the province bordering Kayanza and Karuzi where severe malnutrition remains widespread. Additional supplementary and therapeutic feeding units have been opened.

4.7 Karuzi

During the 1997 B season, improved security enabled planting by the majority of farmers throughout the province, leading to an increase of about 15 percent in planted area as compared to 1996B. However, it is estimated that some 10 to 15 percent of the land remains uncultivated because the owners are displaced. Seeds were available on time for most farmers, but shortages were reported in areas affected by insecurity in previous seasons. Fertilizers (140 tons) were applied despite arriving late and in insufficient quantities. Fertilizers are used by some 50 percent of the farmers in the province. As for plant protection, the DPAE had in hand enough quantity of Dithane M45 (about 700 Kg) for the 1997B season. Sowing was done on time and the excessive rain did not cause significant damage to the crops. Yields are estimated close to normal and the total production will be better than in 1996B as a result of the combined effect of security improvement, availability of inputs and adequate rainfall.

In contrast to other provinces, trade activities in Karuzi are very weak, which helps to maintain prices at relatively low levels for roots and tubers. The nutrition situation remains a major concern among IDPs in spite of a slight improvement at the time of harvest. Living conditions in the more densely populated camps are not good leading to epidemics. Day-care therapeutic centres have been opened to relieve the pressure on Bihoga hospital.

4.8 Kayanza

An improvement in security in all communes of the province and good production during the first cropping season have contributed to an increase of 10 percent in the area planted during the 1997B season. Although seeds were available to all farmers, chemical fertilizers were delivered late. As a result, only half of the fertilizer was used. Besides, the first rains arrived only in early March, causing a delay and staggering of sowing in all the province.

The heavy rains received in May damaged the bean and maize crops planted in swamps. The commune of Gatara was hit by hail in many places, damaging crops. The rainfall in June adversely affected beans at drying, as well as wheat. Otherwise, the crops developed satisfactorily.

Despite the increase in planted area, the production of beans, potatoes and taro has decreased compared to the 1996B production due to excess water and the lack of plant protection. Compared to May, prices have noticeably decreased, particularly for beans (FBU 140/Kg in June against FBU 222/kg in May), but this price reduction will not last long because of the relatively low level of production.

The nutrition situation is critical with people arriving in desperate condition from Cibitoke province or the Kibira forest. There is persistent lack of food in sites where people are too far from their land and have not been able to cultivate any crops or when sites have been repeatedly moved. Therapeutic facilities are swamped and "day-care" therapeutic centres have been opened to try and deal with the situation in spite of security restrictions.

4.9 Kirundo

The security situation was close to normal in the province. After the drought in the first season of 1997, the rainfall reached the normal level during the second cropping season. Planted area increased, particularly for rice (5 to 10 percent). The area under sorghum and beans did not increase because of insufficient seed.

All crops developed normally, except maize. Total production this year is much better than 1996B, particularly for roots and tubers.

Prices eased starting in May, principally for beans. There are no major nutritional problems in the province as a whole, with the exception of displaced people and people repatriated from Rwanda. The communes of Vumbi, Busoni (Mukerwa area) and Bugabira (Kiri and Rugasa areas) are particularly affected.

4.10 Makamba

This province had not experienced any disturbance since the beginning of the crisis, but has recently faced generalized insecurity during the second cropping season of this year. Although the weather conditions were favourable, disturbances did not allow a satisfactory distribution of agricultural inputs. In addition, unavailability of seeds was a major problem for rural families because of the poor harvest of 1997A season.

The majority of the population are regrouped in campsites with little or no access to land as the disturbances also caused the destruction of houses and food stocks. Despite the favourable weather conditions, insecurity hindered planting all the arable land and regular tending of the crops.

Prices are still very high because of shortages in the markets, some of which have been closed for many weeks. Given the persistent insecurity in the area, the nutrition situation is getting worse and food aid projects have limited, if any, access to the most affected areas.

4.11 Muramvya

Thanks to improved security throughout the province, agricultural activities were normal during this second season. The province has witnessed a massive return of people, who are mainly regrouped near their farms. The planted area (5 percent lower than in 1996B) could have reached the same level as last year had the displaced people had enough seeds, particularly bean and potato seeds.

Following the first cropping season marked by the outbreak of violence in the northern part of the province, the population did not have the opportunity to stock any seeds. Out of the 430 tons of fertilizers requested, only 338 were received but late. Pesticides were not available on time, particularly dithane. Weather conditions were favourable but the heavy rains of April and May flooded and washed away the bean and maize crops planted in swamps. Rains from 15 to 17 June damaged part of the beans being dried, and the wheat crop coming to maturity. Irish potatoes and maize were the crops most affected by pests and diseases.

Production was satisfactory except for potatoes, and consequently prices started to decline for the main food crops, including beans. The nutrition situation in the province is very bad with people arriving from the Kibira forest and people coming from sites in neighbouring provinces in search of assistance. A therapeutic facility has recently been set up. Acute malnutrition in existing IDP sites is estimated at over 15 percent.

4.12 Muyinga

The 1997B season benefited from better weather and security conditions. This has led to an increase of the planted area by about 5 percent as compared to 1996B, particularly for beans. This province does not use a great deal of chemical fertilizers which, like pesticides, are applied only on tomatoes and potatoes. For the 1997B season, the DPAE was able to make available to farmers 20 tons of fertilizers and one ton of Dithane M45. The Ministry of Agriculture and the NGOs have distributed 84 tons of bean seed to the displaced and repatriated people, whose access to land has improved for some 90 percent of them, with 80 percent of them cultivating their own farms.

Weather conditions were favourable for normal development of the crops. Pests and diseases which attacked the bean crop in the commune of Gasorwe did not have a serious impact on production. The overall production will exceed the 1996B production by 20 to 30 percent.

Prices have started to decline with the first harvest. For example, the average price of beans was reduced by half between May (FBU 300F/kg) and June (FBU 140/kg). However prices are still higher than in the same period of last year because of a high external demand (Tanzania). In spite of the apparent availability of food, there has been a marked increase in attendance at both therapeutic and supplementary feeding units. Malnutrition is frequent among repatriated and displaced people due to insufficient access to land. Surveys carried out recently showed the prevalence of acute malnutrition of above 15 percent in the communes of Buhinyuza, Butihinda and Gasorwe.

4.13 Ngozi

The security situation was adequate in the province, leading to the cultivation of 95 percent of the cultivable land in 1997B season. However, the unavailability of inputs was a major problem. As for the seeds, markets were short supplied following the particularly long drought in the communes of Mwumba and Nyamurenza (granary of the Province) during the first cropping season (1997A). The farmers managed to obtain bean seed from a recently created fund: FICAF (Fonds Inter-Communal díAuto-Financement or Inter-communal Autofinancing Funds).

Those who planted their fields with the first rains in the second week of March did not use any chemical fertilizer. The total quantity of fertilizer applied during the 1997B season was only 20 tons out of the 118 tons received in Ngozi. Rains started late and there was hail in about 10 percent of the province. The heavy rains of May caused floods in the swamps and caused rotting of early sown beans. Overall, production is better than in 1996B.

Despite the current harvest, prices are still high. This is mainly due to a massive transfer of production to neighbouring Rwanda. In the commune of Marangara, high cattle mortality was recorded, due probably to diseases introduced from Rwanda. The nutrition situation, as reflected by attendance to existing facilities, is still a problem but appears to be improving.

4.14 Rutana

This province, which did not experience any disturbances at the beginning of the season, was not spared during attacks in the south. The communes of Gitanga, Bukemba and Rutana were particularly affected by the disturbances.

There was localized, excess rain in the region of Buyogoma. However, only beans and potatoes were affected by the heavy rains. Shortages of seeds, due to the poor harvest of the 1997A season and the lack of healthy cassava cuttings are estimated to have led to a reduction in planted area by 5 percent as compared to last year. Out of the 100 tons of fertilizers (DAP) received, only 60 tons were used. Five tons of potato seeds were distributed to the seed multiplication centres.

The combined effects of the poor harvests of 1996B and 1997A, as well as the high demand in other provinces, maintained food prices at very high levels during the 1997B season. However, due to better access to land, the nutrition situation has improved progressively not only for displaced people but also for all the rural population which was affected by the poor harvest of 1997A.

4.15 Ruyigi

This province, which borders Tanzania, has experienced large movements of population in the previous two seasons due to insecurity. This led to a significant proportion of land being left uncultivated. However, with pacification in the province, large areas that were abandoned have been planted this season. It is estimated that virtually all arable land in the province has been cultivated. Since the beginning of the season, security has improved a great deal, and, apart from the commune of Butezi (zone of Mubira), the province is relatively calm.

A substantial increase in food production has been estimated for the 1997B season, mainly due to improved security but also to favourable weather conditions and good availability of fertilizers. Distribution of fertilizers improved this season. Although the fifty tons distributed covered only about one-quarter of the total area planted to beans the fertilizer together with organic manure have contributed to better yields. The rains were sufficient and even excessive in the communes of Buyogoma where they affected the bean crop.

Generally, the development of all crops was satisfactory. Although supplies increased in June, prices remained high because of strong demand.



5.1 Food prices and access to food

Food prices, which had increased sharply following three successive reduced crops and the economic embargo, have been declining throughout the country reflecting the generally improved harvest of this season. However, they remain substantially above last yearís pre-embargo level because of the limited increase in production, the low level of stocks, and trade constraints due to increased transport costs and insecurity. Moreover, food prices are likely to resume increasing over the next months. Large quantities are expected to flow across the borders as a result of reduced harvests in neighbouring countries, coupled with the depreciation of the Burundian Franc in the open market and the prevailing double exchange rate in the country. Current active purchasing of the new crop by traders appears to confirm these expectations.

Since most of the production is for subsistence and given the high transport costs that have aggravated the differentials between surplus and deficit areas, there are significant variations in prices between rural and urban areas and among the provinces. Table 3 shows price variations for selected products in Bujumbura and rural markets.

In rural areas, the price of beans, the main crop of the season and the main staple in the Burundian diet, is on average one-quarter below its level of January 1997. However, prices are still between one-third and 275 percent higher than a year ago by province. In rural areas, bean prices vary from 130 to 180 FBU/kg, while in Bujumbura, which concentrates the urban population, they are quoted at 250 FBU/kg. The high level of prices in Bujumbura reflects not only the large increase in the price of petrol but also insecurity in several areas, particularly in Bujumbura rural Province which in normal times supplied a large proportion of the food needs of the capital.

The price of maize, a crop produced mainly in the first season, has declined slightly due to the improved availability of other food crops. Improvements in this seasonís production of cassava and sweet potatoes, the other basic food crops, have resulted in substantial declines in their prices to even below pre-embargo levels. However, as a result of the increased distribution costs, prices of roots and tubers have not declined in Bujumbura City and remain several times higher than in rural areas. Prices of Irish potato, a minor commercial crop which had previously been expanding, have risen significantly because of a poor harvest this year due to shortages of seeds and the lack of pesticides which has led to serious pest infestation.

While the overall decline in food prices in rural areas reflects an improved supply situation, the prevailing high prices in Bujumbura city, with a population of 400 000 persons, means that large segments of the population have extremely limited access to food. The increase in prices in the capital city has been even larger for processed products, such as flour from maize, cassava and wheat, as well as for imported basic food such as rice, sugar and oil. This is the result of the closing of factories due to the lack of inputs and the already mentioned devaluation of the national currency. Even though prices were high, there did not appear to be physical shortages of basic food staples at the time of the Mission; it was rather that many poor people could not afford to buy at these levels.

Table 3 - Burundi: Consumer prices of main food products in selected rural markets (FBU/KG) 1/
Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97
Beans  68  280  130  90  200  n/a  120  220  160  114  200  150  120  200  140
Maize  38  60  60  40  80  50  70  120  n/a  50  70  65  55  110  50
Dry Cassava  43  50  20  30  41  30  n/a  n/a  n/a  42  50  30  35  40  20
Potatoes  59  50  100  40  90  100  40  60  100  60  60  150  n/a  n/a  100
Sweet Potatoes  20  80  20  20  20  28  13  20  20  16  18  35  40  40  25
Banana  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  1000  300  600  n/a  600  900  800  500  900  600

Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jan-97  Jun-97  Jul-96  Jun-97  % change
Beans  n/a  210  180  100  200  170  130  200  175  70  190  150  120  250  108
Maize  n/a  90  50  60  120  n/a  60  130  n/a  60  150  n/a  80  150  88
Dry Cassava  n/a  50  25  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  82  n/a  n/a  n/a  100  150  50
Potatoes  n/a  70  90  45  60  90  30  55  100  60  80  100  120  170  41
Sweet Potatoes  n/a  35  20  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  n/a  16  n/a  n/a  20  90  120  33
Banana  n/a  650  600  400  850  1 500  500  1 000  1 450  300  600  1 000  100  250  150
1/ Undeflated prices.

5.2 Food Supply/Demand Balance, January-December 1997

Despite some increase in production this season, the overall food situation remains extremely tight. Food production is still below the 1988-1993 pre-civil conflict average level while the population has continued to increase over the years. The country, which was virtually self-sufficient before the crisis, has therefore a significant food deficit in 1997. Because of the prevailing embargo, imports of beans, a main staple, which in years of bad harvests used to flow from neighbouring countries, particularly Tanzania, remain constrained. Although the embargo has formally been relaxed to allow food imports, trade barriers persist; moreover, the increased cost of transport coupled with the devaluation of the Burundian Franc in the open market, have severely limited the commercial import capacity.

At the same time, the reduction in employment opportunities due to the economic disruption created in part by the embargo has depressed incomes and limited the access to food in the markets. This is particularly the case for poor households, which depend more on market purchases and in urban areas where the higher level of prices has eroded the purchasing power of the population.

The progressive deterioration in the average consumption levels, which before the crisis years barely covered the minimum energy requirements of the population, is likely to continue unless substantial food assistance is provided. The food situation is particularly serious for the population which has not been able to cultivate their lands as a result of the persistent civil conflict. This includes the people who were hiding in forests for security reasons and a large proportion of the population without access to land, among the displaced and regrouped people living in camps. The nutritional and health situation of these populations gives cause for serious concern.

The 1997 supply/demand balance for cereals, pulses, roots and tubers and bananas is presented in Table 4. Production in 1997 includes estimates of the first and second seasons and a forecast of the minor third season accounting for some 17 percent of the annual food production. The aggregate food production for 1997 (first, second and third seasons) is estimated at 300 000 tons of cereals, 310 000 tons of pulses, 1.4 million tons of roots and tubers, and 1.5 million tons of bananas. This is slightly higher than in 1996, but lower than the pre-crisis average.

Food stocks in the country are estimated to be negligible. Farmersí stocks are assumed to have been depleted following a succession of three poor harvests; insecurity problems also discourage farmers from maintaining significant quantities of stocks. Following the trade embargo and the increased transport costs, stocks held by traders are also assumed to be negligible. Moreover, food aid stocks are also minimal due to restrictions on food aid imports during the first semester of 1997. Total food requirements are calculated on the basis of a population of 5.98 million people in mid-1997 and annual per caput consumption requirements of 47 kg of cereals, 52 kg of pulses, 230 kg of roots and tubers and 264 kg of bananas and plantains. The requirements for cereals and pulses are based on the apparent consumption of the 1994-96 period, and are therefore below the historical pre-crisis levels of consumption. While the consumption levels used by the Mission reflect the current situation in the country, they do not cover the minimum energy requirements of the population. It is therefore assumed that other food products, such as sugar, vegetables, fruits, and to a very limited extent livestock products, will cover the difference.

Other uses of crops include seed retention and post-harvest losses. They have been estimated using calculations made by FAO projects in the country. Feed use of grains is considered to be minimal due to the sharp reduction in livestock numbers since the beginning of the crisis and the closing of factories for concentrates. Altogether, non-food uses are estimated to account for 13 percent of cereals, 18 percent of pulses, and 10 percent for bananas and roots and tubers.

The food deficit derived from the food balance amounts to 20 000 tons of cereals, 56 000 tons of pulses, 127 000 tons of root and tubers and 206 000 tons of bananas. The deficit in root and tubers and bananas has been converted into cereal equivalent since these commodities are not available as food aid and, in addition, they are expensive to import as they are bulky and perishable. Over two-thirds of the bananas produced are consumed in the form of banana beer and therefore not easily substitutable for cereals in the household food basket. However, the small portion of the banana production consumed as fruit as well as cooked, with a higher calorie content, has been converted into cereal equivalent.

Commercial imports -formal and informal cross-border trade- although allowed under the easing of the embargo since mid-April 1997, continue to be hampered by: i) restrictions at the borders; ii) high costs of transport following the large increases in petrol prices; iii) devaluation of the Burundian Franc; iv) shortages of foreign exchange and v) insecurity in border provinces where the main commercial routes are. The Mission therefore anticipates that only some 3 000 tons of cereals, mainly wheat flour for urban areas, and 12 000 tons of pulses could be imported under commercial terms during 1997.

After commercial imports, there is still a deficit in 1997 of 17 000 tons of cereals and 44 000 tons of pulses to be covered by food aid. Emergency food aid distributed to the highly vulnerable population during the first half of the year and that projected to be distributed in the second half amounts to 22 000 tons of cereals and 8 000 tons of pulses. This leaves an uncovered deficit equivalent to 31 000 tons of grains (cereals + pulses) that would be needed in other forms of food assistance to avoid further deterioration in the nutritional situation of the whole population. Another 52 000 tons would be needed to cover the deficit in root and tubers and bananas/plantains.

Table 4 - Burundi: Food Supply and Demand Balance 1997 ('000 tons)
Population mid-1997: 5.980 million
A. DOMESTIC AVAILABILITY  300  310  1 388  1 527
Production 1997  300  310  1 388  1 527
Season 97A  148  104  471  482
Season 97B  138  186  714  663
Season 97C  14  20  203  382
Stock draw-down  0
B. TOTAL UTILIZATION  320  366  1 515  1 733
Food Use  281  311  1 375  1 579
Seed, feed and other uses  39  55  140  154
C. IMPORT REQUIREMENTS  20  56  127  206
Commercial imports  12  0
Food aid requirement  17  44  0
- emergency food aid until 30.06.97  0
- emergency food aid until 30.12.97  16 
Uncovered deficit (in cereal equivalent)  + 5  36  38  14

5.3 Emergency Food Assistance

WFP is by far the most important provider of food assistance in Burundi. Assistance is currently provided through several programmes: Emergency Relief for people displaced from their homes, Return Packages for displaced persons returning to their homes, General Distributions to refugees or to returnees during their stay in transit camps, a Diversified Programme of food-for-work projects, and Selective Feeding Programmes providing rations to malnourished and vulnerable groups.

The main WFP programme addressing the needs of highly vulnerable IDP groups is the distribution of Emergency Relief rations by two WFP teams. In 1997, an important focus of this programme has been on the recently "regrouped" populations, estimated at up to 300 000 people, many with little or no access to land. Needs assessments have determined that a large proportion of regrouped populations is at a high risk of food insecurity. In 1997, following these assessments, large distribution operations have been undertaken to such groups in Karuzi, Kayanza, and Bubanza provinces, when security has permitted access. Distributions to vulnerable IDP groups have also been done in Muramvya province, while small quantities of assistance have been provided to recently displaced groups in the southern provinces of Makamba, Bururi, and Rutana. Since May, two specialized assessment teams have been conducting needs assessments in affected areas on a regular and continuing basis to provide the most current information available.

WFP supports Selective Feeding Programmes (SFP) in most areas of the country, which benefit vulnerable people among both the local population and IDP groups. Much of this assistance is provided to UNICEF supported programmes conducted by NGOs.

Return Packages of food commodities are provided to IDP families who are resettling in their homes as well as, within the framework of UNHCR programmes, to returnees who have come back to Burundi after having sought refuge in neighbouring countries. WFP commodities are also provided to UNHCR for general distribution to the small numbers of refugees and returnees who are living in camps.

Despite the rapidly changing nature of the situation in many parts of the country, WFP has consistently focused on supporting reconstruction, income-generation, and other projects which encourage normalization in general, and the return of IDPs to the homes in particular. This Diversified Programme also has a gender component that encourages the participation of women in such projects.

During the first half of 1997, distributions were constrained by several important factors. Until the easing of economic sanctions which was announced on April 16, 1997, WFP could only import 2,500 MT of commodities per month under the exemption permitted by the Regional Sanctions Committee. In addition, the transport of goods via barge on Lake Tanganyika was blocked, and has only been reinstated since mid-June. Use of land routes only to import commodities in the meantime further restricted the amount of food available for distribution. In addition, political considerations regarding the provision of humanitarian assistance in regrouping camps have hampered WFPís ability to distribute food to the most vulnerable populations located in those sites. Finally, while the overall security has generally improved over the last six months, some areas are still inaccessible, such as parts of Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Bururi and Makamba. In addition, UN Security has taken drastic measures to limit access to and work in all of Cibitoke province.

Table 5 provides the tonnage dispatched for each WFP programme between January 1 and June 15, 1997.

Table 5 - Burundi: WFP programme (January-June)
Commodity  Tonnage
Cereals  5 892.06
Salt  67.47
Vegetable Oil  653.32
Pulses  2 955.28
Sugar  111.06
Mixed CSB  317.99
Rice 1 558.65
TOTAL  10 555.83
1/ Final Balance of rice distributed at the beginning of the year for school feeding projects.

In the second half of 1997, WFP will continue regular emergency distributions to highly-vulnerable displaced and regrouped persons until the next main harvest in December-January, whenever security permits access. A projected 260 000 people, primarily in Bubanza, Cibitoke, Kayanza, Karuzi, and Muramvya, will be targeted for such assistance, based on regular and continuing assessments of their needs. For this population, WFP projects that a total of some 21 000 metric tons (MT) will be necessary for these emergency distributions. Whenever possible, CSB could be included in the distributions according to the availability of stocks.

Return Packages will be provided to all those affected populations that will be permitted to return to their homes as soon as an organized return programme is provided by the authorities. Furthermore, Return Packages will be distributed to all repatriates in coordination with UNHCR. WFP will continue to assist all necessary requests from partners in providing commodities for nutritional feeding centres. In addition, WFP will expand its Diversified Programmes as described above, with a plan to reach 40 000 beneficiaries, for a total of 3,690 MT of commodities.

5.4 Logistics

WFPís logistics operation in Burundi is implemented as part of the regional structure and relies on a pipeline originating in Dar Es Salaam. Due to the embargo imposed on Burundi in August 1996, WFP has been able to provide food from the existing in-country stocks. Between October 1996 and April 1997, WFP has been able to cope with food delivery of the quantities allowed by the Regional Sanctions Committee (i.e. 2 500 tons per month). The main supply routes for most of 1996 until mid-June 1997 have been by land from Isaka (Tanzania) to Ngozi. A WFP fleet of six trucks and private transporters ensures in-country transport.

Since the beginning of the economic embargo against Burundi, WFP has been in charge of all in-country flights and the only sanctioned external Air Bridge, transporting humanitarian staff and cargo, as well as diplomatic pouches. WFP is also responsible for the only importation of fuel exempted by the Regional Sanctions Committee for humanitarian use, importing over 450 000 liters per month. In addition, WFP provides logistics coordination for all UN agencies in Burundi.


Malnutrition had become a growing problem in rural areas in Burundi in the 80s and early 90s: household food security linked to increasing land scarcity and inadequate farming practices was aggravated by inappropriate food practices. This problem has however been taking dramatic proportions as a consequence of the civil strife which has prevailed since 1993.

A significant part of the population in the conflict areas has not been able to grow crops during the last agricultural seasons and therefore faces high levels of food insecurity. The irregular distribution of food aid in the last months, compounded by major health problems in some sites, has led to widespread malnutrition of both adults and children. Hundreds of cases of kwashiorkor and marasmus have been admitted in therapeutic units in the most affected areas. It is likely many more have not made it or have no access to a nutrition unit

Malnutrition cases come essentially from two population groups (or from a combination of both):

In both cases, household food insecurity is compounded by a poor health situation due to difficult living conditions and insufficient access to health services. The situation varies however from area to area, with some provinces remaining at almost pre-war levels of malnutrition (Cankuzo, Kirundo, Ruyigi). Given the prevailing agricultural calendar, the situation can however be expected to deteriorate progressively all over the country in the coming months (until the January harvest). The next "lean season" will likely be particularly difficult, in view of the low level of food production in neighbouring countries, and of limitations in food production and storage among IDPs. The 1998A season will be key.

Data are being collected more or less regularly in selected feeding centres (supplementary and therapeutic) and are transmitted to the Ministry of Health in Bujumbura. Unlike the attendance registers, the final forms do not mention where the cases come from. Nutritional surveys have also been carried out in limited areas, and in particular on certain sites. Such surveys commonly find rates of acute malnutrition in under-five children (weight for height under 80 percent) in excess of 15 percent. The information however remains piecemeal and the information presented in the regional analysis (Section 4) is essentially based on informal interviews with key informants. No concerted effort has yet been made at national level to assess the prevalence of acute malnutrition at community level and to set up a surveillance system, at least where this appears to be most needed. It is therefore impossible at this stage to present a reliable assessment of the severity of the situation but all the evidence points out to a major problem which requires immediate international assistance. An effective nutrition surveillance system is urgently needed to plan assistance.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required. 
Abdur Rashid  
Chief, GIEWS FAO  
Telex 610181 FAO I  
Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495  
E-mail: INTERNET: [email protected] 
Mohamed Zejjari  
Director, OSA, WFP  
Telex: 626675 WFP 1  
Fax: 0039-6-5228-2839 

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