Well distributed rain leads to good harvests in Burundi, floods and malaria feared

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By NECJOGHA TEAM, BUJUMBURA

BUJUMBURA,BURUNDI: Well-distributed rainfall since mid-April has led to average to above-average harvests but there is a likelihood of flood, landslides and increased incidences of malaria, a famine early warning group has said.

“In May, the prices of staple foods were below the three-year average and 11.6 percent lower than May 2018. Most rural households are expected to be net food sellers, which is anticipated to keep prices low and benefit market-dependent poor households. Improved food availability and access is expected to continue until September,” an update on the food situation in Burundi by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET).

FEWSNET 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 28 countries.

The release by FEWSNET however says average to above-average rainfall during the October-December short rains season is expected to raise the risk of flooding and landslides. In addition, malaria incidence, which has already surpassed the national epidemic threshold, is expected to reach its peak during this timeframe.

“The anticipated impact on agricultural cultivation and expectation that households dependent on agricultural labour would have reduced capacity to work, at a time when food reserves are seasonally low, is expected to lead to Stressed outcomes,” the update says.

As regards the present anomalies in Burundi, FEWSNET says that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 31 out of 46 health districts have surpassed the epidemic threshold for malaria. The number of cases exceeded the national epidemic threshold on May 5th, when 171,349 clinical malaria cases were reported in a week. 3,207,552 clinical malaria cases were reported as of May 26th with a case fatality ratio of 0.04 percent, indicating a 53 and 22 percent increase in cases and in deaths, respectively, compared to January-May 2018.

It adds that in the provinces of Ngozi and Kayanza viral Sheep and Goats Plague has killed more than 500 livestock, prompting the closure of small animal markets to prevent the spread of the disease.

Out of the 30 collines in Kirundo Province that had severe crop production shortfalls in Season 2019 A, three collines in Busoni also had rainfall deficits during the beans flowering stage in May, leading to significant beans production shortfalls. However, crop development of other staple foods is near normal.

Current and projected food security outcomes, September 2018 (left) and          October  2018 – January 2019 (right)

Current and projected food security outcomes, September 2018 (left) and October 2018 - January 2019 (right)
Current and projected food security outcomes, September 2018 (left) and October 2018 – January 2019 (right) . Source: FEWSNET

“Out of the 30 collines in Kirundo Province that had severe crop production shortfalls in Season 2019 A, three collines in Busoni also had rainfall deficits during the beans flowering stage in May, leading to significant beans production shortfalls. However, crop development of other staple foods is near normal,” the update says.

On the projected anomalies FEWSNET says that on a national level, based on seasonal trends, malaria incidence is likely to decline in June-September and increase in the short rains season in October-January, reaching its peak in December. The major drivers of the epidemic include low use of preventive measures, low immunity, and climatic changes leading to increased vector density, reduced sensitization, and budget and logistics constraints.

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