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Cablegate: Usaid/Ffp Contributes $5 Million in Food Aid To

VZCZCXRO8913
RR RUEHRN
DE RUEHNR #0933/01 0581328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271328Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7794
INFO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1786
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 5120
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 4709
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0111
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4109
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 NAIROBI 000933

SIPDIS

USAID/DCHA/AA FOR WGARVELINK, LROGERS
DCHA/OFDA FOR GGOTTLIEB, CGOTTSCHALK, KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP FOR JDWORKEN, TANDERSON, CMUTAMBA, TMCRAE
AFR/EA FOR JBORNS, SMCCLURE
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
NSC FOR JMELINE
BUJUMBURA FOR PMOLLER, RLUNEBURG
DAR ES SALAAM FOR PWHITE, MLATOUR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BY KE
SUBJECT: USAID/FFP CONTRIBUTES $5 MILLION IN FOOD AID TO
FLOOD AFFECTED IN BURUNDI


1. SUMMARY: Excessive and exceptional heavy rains and
floods in November - December 2006 have negatively
impacted food and seed production in Burundi. Their
impact prolongs the hunger gap period to ten months; the
short dry season harvest of December - January never
occurred severely limiting the availability of seeds for
the February 2007 planting season, which normally
produces 50 percent of Burundi's agricultural
production. WFP is targeting 2.5 million beneficiaries
for food for April - June 2007. This period is critical
since the last productive harvest was in June 2006.
USAID/FFP has allocated an additional 6,080 MTs of food
commodities valued at $5,016,200 to WFP for the flood-
affected victims. END SUMMARY

2. Regional USAID/East Africa/FFP Officer conducted an
assessment of flood affected areas of Burundi from
January 25 - 27, 2007. The floods were caused by
excessive and exceptional rains in November and December
2006 that have negatively impacted food and seed
productions. The entire country has been affected to
varying degrees, with the highlands most seriously
impacted by erosion and plant crops that were swept
away. This area corresponds with the traditional "bread
basket" areas of the country. The Crop and Food Supply
Assessment Mission (CFSAM) of January 2007 which was
conducted by FAO, WFP and GOB, indicated that 50 percent
of the people in those zones have been affected while
the six month agricultural season (2006C: June -
November 2006) has lost an estimated 50 - 80 percent of
its yields. The 2007A five month planting season
(September - January) that produces 35 percent of
national production was also negatively impacted. The
short dry season (December - January) is when crops are
dried to produce seeds that are normally produced in
planting season A. Since this never occurred due to the
rains, seeds will be in short supply for the most
significant planting season (Agricultural Season B) of
February - May, that normally produces 50 percent of
Burundi's annual agricultural production. It is
probable that the seeds that are made will likely be
eaten during the prolonged hunger period.

3. In a regional FEWSNET presentation in Nairobi in
February, 2007, FEWSNET officials reported that the slow
warming of the Indian Ocean has created excess moisture
generating heavy rains across the southern belt of
Africa, which includes Burundi, during October -
January. FEWSNET shared that soils that have been
subjected to drought over a long period of time become
very porous. When it rains, the water runs right off
taking the soil and plant life along as well, explaining
the devastating erosion that occurred in the highlands.
With the exception of the recent flooding, Burundi has
been experiencing drought since 2000.

4. Burundi has been affected by a series of
agricultural and climactic incidences over the past few
years, creating a domino effect that consistently
weakens future food security prospects for the country.
The critical implication of this latest occurrence is
not only the immediate impact of reduced food and seed
stocks, but also the cumulative aspect of a hunger gap
season that has been extended from six intermittent
months to 10 consecutive months from September 2006 to
June 2007. Cassava Mosaic disease (CMD) attacked fields
throughout East and Central Africa, appearing in Burundi
in 2004. FAO estimates that CMD has decimated 60% of the
cassava plant (a usual hunger gap staple) throughout the
country, in many of the same areas affected by the heavy
rains and floods.

5. There are other indirect yet important implications

NAIROBI 00000933 002 OF 004


of the recent heavy rains and floods:

This event is occurring at a period during which
Burundi has ended a 13 year civil war and humanitarian
donors and organizations are winding down emergency
activities and preparing to leave Burundi, diminishing
the capacity to respond to such an emergency.

The food security crisis can be manipulated in
Burundi's extremely fragile political environment. This
is the third food crisis since the government has come
to power in 2005 and falls on the heels of the
demobilization of the last armed rebel group (FNL).
Government opposition can use this situation to
highlight the current government's inability to take
care of its people.

If the food insecurity crisis persists, it will
likely stop the flow of Burundian refugees from Tanzania
where there are still over 150,000 Burundian refugees
remaining. A large movement of Burundians to Tanzania is
also very possible.

The fragility of coping mechanisms pushes more and
more Burundians to the edge. The recent Crop Assessment
indicates that the population has resorted to eating one
meal/day. WFP reports that parents are now turning up to
eat at schools where their children participate in
school feeding programs; or leaving children at the
offices of the local administration as they can no
longer feed them. It is too soon to see the aggregate
impact on the nutritional status.

6. The FFP Officer accompanied the Provincial
Administrator and WFP to visit flood affected zones in
Gatumba town in Bujumbura Rural some 18 kms from the
capital Bujumbura. In Gatumba, the damage witnessed has
been a result of natural as well as man-made events.
Gatumba (population: 35,000 people) is in the lowlands.
Years of conflicts have forced cattle herders to move
their stock to the capital, Bujumbura, for security
reasons. As a result communities have installed
themselves in areas close to the city, in zones that
were prone to flooding. In this particular instance,
there was also roadwork being done near the village,
which blocked water run-off (of the mountains) from
accessing the lake resulting in intense flooding. The
Administrator indicated 17,000 people or 50 percent of
the population was affected in this zone.

7. The FFP Officer saw houses that were standing in
water. All the houses had water marks that ranged from
ankle-high to knee-high, indicating the former water
levels. There were small boats around and the
Administrator indicated it was the only way to move from
one area to another. For the houses that were not
standing in water, the floors were very wet and muddy,
rendering them uninhabitable. Most of the pit latrines
had been washed away. The canals dug around the houses
were still filled with water as well as raw sewage. The
Red Cross has sprayed the area in an effort to avert
cholera. The FFP Officer visited a field in a marshland.
WFP and the Administrator indicated that a few weeks
back the field was entirely immersed in water and the
tomatoes and beans planted there were lost.


RESPONSE


8. WFP is targeting 2.5 million people with a half
ration from April - June 2007. This period is critical
since the last productive harvest was in June 2006. WFP

NAIROBI 00000933 003 OF 004


indicates the need for 13,000 MTs/month for the three
month period, valued at $12 million. At present they do
not have enough food resources to address this need.
With current resources they can only reach 300,000 flood
- affected people/month. In order to do that they will
run on minimum reserve and cut current food rations
reserved for school feeding, refugees, and Burundians
expelled from Tanzania, by 25 percent.

9. FAO has targeted 458,100 families for bean seed
distribution. They will distribute more maize with a
more resistant strain of beans. They will additionally
distribute linga-linga seeds, a fast growing green leafy
local crop rich in vitamins and iron.


ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED AND RECOMMENDED


10. Action: USAID/Food for Peace immediately
contributed 6,080 MTs of commodities valued at
$5,016,200, to Burundi to support WFP in building food
stocks to address the critical period of April - June,
2007. This represents 42 percent of their stated
appeal.


RECOMMENDATIONS


11. The following recommendations are made to facilitate
future tracking of food aid trends and trouble shoot
upcoming crises:

WFP must clearly indicate that the targeted
distributions are for the flood affected victims (though
it is clear that drought and flood - affected are in
many instances, one and the same families in this small
country). Targeting should be more specific to include
the zones most affected in a commune, particularly since
the resources for this intervention will be very
limited.

Hire a FSN Food Aid Monitor. USAID/Burundi has no
human resource capacity to monitor food aid trends. As
the country of Burundi transitions, it is evident given
this current crisis that the emergency needs remain
high. The food aid situation is currently monitored from
a regional level. The placement of an FSN Food Aid
Monitor would be a significant support to the expanding
USAID Office in terms of monitoring the use of USG food
aid resources and ensuring integration with other USG
resources. USAID/FFP is committed to facilitate
Burundi's transition period. A Food Aid Monitor would
support the transition away from emergency food aid to
activities that address underlying vulnerabilities.
Additionally he/she could work with WFP on continuing
challenging points such as targeting and effective use
of safety nets in nutrition feeding programs. In the
event that FFP expands their partners beyond WFP, the
Food Aid Monitor would be integral to working with these
potential partners.

Expand FEWSNET to include Burundi. This would
assist FFP in tracking important climactic/food security
trends as well as ground-truth local reports. Though
FEWSNET was called upon in the early alerts of this
crisis, they admitted that Burundi's case highlighted
the need for better estimates of the location and
quantity of presumed erosion on hill-side planting, as
well the impacts of submersion and drowning of crops in
lowland marshes. Additionally they report that they had
very few insights to add to the level of crop damage

NAIROBI 00000933 004 OF 004


reported from Burundi due to the lack of a FEWSNET
presence in country. If the Rwanda office could be made
into a regional office to include Burundi and Eastern
Congo, significant coverage of the Great Lakes Region by
FEWSNET would be established.

12. Kudos to USAID/Food for Peace Office's immediate
and unwavering response which is critical in post-
conflict Burundi.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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