Food Security Outlook

Season A harvests are ongoing; maize harvests will occur in February

January 2013 to July 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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.

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
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
NUR

Key Messages

  • Household food stocks are currently being replenished. This, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, means that most households will be able to meet essential food and non-food needs through June 2013 and will face minimal to no food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). 

  • However in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-Pastoral, East Congo‐Nile Highland Subsistence Farming and West Congo-Nile Tea and Food livelihood zones, rainfall anomalies early in the season caused significant crop damage and as a result, below-normal, season 'A' harvests are expected. Households in these areas will deplete food stocks approximately one month earlier than normal and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions from late March through June. 

  • Due to the ongoing harvests, bean and Irish potato prices have declining in the last month by about 8 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Prices for maize, which has not yet been harvested in many areas, have seen a monthly increase of about 5 percent. Prices for all three crops are higher than last year's prices (by 7 to 25 percent). 

National Overview

Current Situation

With the exception of the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-Pastoral zone, where poor rainfall at the beginning of the rainy season caused harvests to be delayed, bush beans, Irish potatoes, peas, and groundnuts harvests were generally completed in mid-December to January in most areas of the country. While green maize harvests are ongoing, the main harvest of maize and climbing beans will occur in early February in the southeast and late February in the northwest.  Due to rainfall anomalies (a poor start of the rainy season and heavy rainfall in certain areas) and an above-average prevalence of crop diseases (banana Xanthomonas wilt and maize caterpillar), national season 'A' production levels are expected to be slightly below-average.

Pasture and animal body conditions are generally good across the country. In the Eastern Agro-Pastoral zones, about 800  cows were identified with foot and mouth disease and as a result, the region is currently subject to an official quarantine which is limiting livestock movements. However despite these areas being the country's primarily source of livestock, cattle prices throughout the country have been relatively stable (around 200,000 RWF per cow in the east, about 255,000RWF in the West).

Due to the ongoing harvests, Irish potato prices declined by about 1 to 21 percent between November and December. For crops that have not yet been harvested (maize and climbing beans), market prices have been stable or slightly increasing (0 to 13 percent for maize and 0 to 8 percent for beans) compared to November. Compared to last year, prices for these crops are, on average, 7 to 25 percent higher this year.

In November, the government of Rwanda and the United Nations launched a Sustainable Return and Reintegration for Rwanda Returnees program which aims to support an estimated 70,000 Rwandan returnees through various food and non-food assistance programs. According to UNHCR, a cessation clause is expected to be implemented on June 30, 2013, lifting the refugee status of Rwandan refugees currently living in nearby countries. As a result, about 30,000 new returnees are expected to return to Rwanda sometime this year. New returnees receive a three-month food ration from the government and partners when entering Rwanda. In additions to the returnees, about 41,350 refugees are currently present in various refugee camps. These refugees are currently relying on food assistance from WFP.    

Since harvesting requires less on-farm labor than land preparation, planting, and weeding activities, casual labor demand is seasonably low at this time. In areas with newly settled refugees and returnees, supply has increased which has lead to lower wage rates, especially around Nyamagabe district.

In most areas of the country, households are currently relying on their own crop production. With the exception of the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-Pastoral, East Congo‐Nile Highland Subsistence Farming and West Congo-Nile Tea and Food livelihood zones, all areas of the country will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions through June 2013.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for January through June 2013 is based on the following national‐level assumptions:

  • Harvests: Harvesting activities will continue through mid-February, particularly for beans and maize. Due to rainfall anomalies (poor start of the rainy season and heavy rainfall in certain areas) and an above-average prevalence of crop diseases (Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and maize caterpillar), national season 'A' production levels are expected to be slightly below-average.
  • Food stocks: Most poor households currently have access to fresh beans, peas, and sweet and Irish potatoes harvests. By the end of February, maize and climbing bean harvests will also be completed and will add to these household stocks. Household food stocks for the poor are expected to last approximately 2-3 months until March-April. This is similar to a normal year where household food stocks generally last 3 months.   
  • Staple commodities: Irish potato prices are currently lower than last month's prices but are higher than prices last year at this time. Maize and climbing bean prices have generally been stable or slightly increasing compared to November as these crops' harvests are not yet complete.  Prices are expected to decrease seasonally in February and then stabilize in March. Between April to June, prices are expected to increase normally during the lean season. Prices are expected to remain above last year's levels and the five-year average during the entire outlook period.
  • Agricultural labor: From January through June, agricultural labor demand and supply are expected to follow normal seasonal trends, with the exception of areas neighboring refugee camps where supply is likely to be higher than normal. Wage rates are expected to peak during land preparation and planting activities in March when on-farm activities are intense. However, a slight decline in labor demand in localized lowlands in the East are expected compared to previous years as a new program provided tractors and mechanized plowing equipment, reducing the need for human labor.
  • Start of season B rainy season: The start of the season 'B' rainy season is expected to start normally in March.
  • Livestock conditions and prices: Pasture and livestock conditions are expected to deteriorate during the short dry season from January through March and then improve as the rains start in March. Conditions will then remain good through June as the rainy season will restore pasture and water resource availability.  Animal sales and livestock prices are expected to remain at stable levels throughout the outlook period.
  • Refugees and returnees: Refugee inflows, especially from the DRC, will remain at status quo levels through the outlook period. Rwandan returnees are expected to start reentering the country at increased levels between January and June as they will lose refugee status on June 30, 2013.  
  • Start of the lean season: The lean season is expected to start normally in late March in most areas of the country.
  • Off-farm income activities and access to credit: These activities will follow normal, seasonal trends throughout the scenario period.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Except for certain areas of concern (described in detail below), households will rely on their own production to meet consumption needs until the lean season starts in late March. From April to June, households will access food through market purchases using cash income earned from normal livelihood activities, such as agricultural labor, selling normal levels of livestock, crop sales, off-farm income, and normal levels of credit. At least 80 percent of the population in most areas of the country will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from January through June.  

Areas of Concern

Eastern semi arid agro-pastoral zone

Current Situation

Food crops, livestock and casual labor are the main livelihood activities in this zone, which includes the Ndego, Murundi, Murama, Kabare, Rwinkwavu, Kabarondo and Mwiri sectors of Kayonza district as well as the Mpanga, Nasho, Mahama, Nyamugali and Kigarama sectors of Kirehe district. During a normal year, households rely on both their own production (generally from December to March) and market purchases. Endowed with fertile, young soils, the area is particularly vulnerable to rainfall hazards, such as heavy rainfall. Other hazards that occasionally face the zone include cattle and crop diseases.

Due to poor temporal distribution of rainfall at the beginning of the season, cropland in the Nasho, Mpanga and Mahama valleys were not fully planted (20 percent less than normal). While green harvests of beans are ongoing, the main season 'A' harvests in these areas are expected to be delayed and below-average. In this livelihood zone, beans and maize are important staple foods for poor households. Due to the delayed harvests, beans prices have increased compared to last month (+8 percent) and last year's prices (+19 percent). At the Nyakarambi market, maize prices have also slightly increased compared to last month (+4 percent) and are higher than last year average (22 percent).

As weeding activities have ended and the harvests have not yet started, labor demand and wages are low at this time. While these low wages are normal for this time of the year, these low wages make it difficult for poor households to earn income to purchase food on the market. At this time, labor migration to neighboring livelihood zones has increased and is at atypically high levels for this time of the year.

About 800 cows were identified with foot and mouth disease in this zone and as a result, the region is currently subject to an official quarantine. This has restricted livestock movement between this livelihood zone and other areas of the country. However, this has so far not impacted prices as they have remained relatively stable (around 200,000 RWF per cow in the east).

Due to the delayed harvests, households have depleted their food stocks and are reliant on market purchases. This has extended the lean season and has lead poor households in the zone to engage in atypical coping strategies including selling additional small animals (rabbit, chickens, goats etc), migrating to other zones, limiting meal portion sizes, and/or reducing the number of meals consumed per day. Households in this area are currently facing Stressed (IPC phase 2) food security conditions.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for January through June 2013 for the Eastern Semi-Arid Agro-pastoral zone is based on the following zone-level assumptions:

  • Season A 2013 Harvests: Below normal harvests are expected in February due to the delayed start and then heavy rain in some areas during the cropping season. This will cause production in some areas to be 60 percent below normal (Figure 4). This is also exacerbated by plant diseases, particularly banana Xanthomonas wilt, which is causing elevated levels of crop damage.  
  • Food sources: Until the harvests in February, households will have depleted food stocks and will rely on the market for food. Once harvests occur, own production will only last about one additional month since most crops were already consumed as green harvests. Therefore, households will run out of food stocks and will become market dependant about one month earlier than normal (early March this year compared to late March in a normal year. 
  • Prices: Prices will remain high until the first harvests in February. Once the harvests occur, prices will decline slightly until the lean season in March. Then prices will increase for the rest of the outlook period. During the entire period, prices will remain higher than last year's levels and the five-year average.
  • Labor opportunities: Until the harvests occur in February, on-farm labor opportunities will be low. Labor opportunities will then increase seasonally after February as harvesting, land preparation, and weeding activities begin. Wages are expected to be at normal levels throughout the outlook period.
  • Livestock: As treatments and vaccinations for foot and mouth disease are ongoing in the zone, the livestock quarantine will likely be lifted during the outlook period. Pasture conditions are expected to decline until March due to the dry season and then improve after the rainy season starts in March.
  •  Migration: Migration is expected to peak in April-May during the lean season. Household members who have migrated to other zones will return in late June when green harvests are available.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Due to the unusually delayed harvests, households are still relying on market purchases at this time to access food. As the availability of income opportunities to generate cash income are low, households are currently using atypical coping strategies to meet basic food needs and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until the harvests in February. After the harvests, households will rely on their own food stocks until early March and will be food secure (IPC Phase 1). However due to this season's poor harvests, households will deplete their food stocks earlier than normal and will become dependent on market purchases for a longer than normal period (March through early June). To deal with this unusually high dependency on the market, poor households will engage in consumption-based coping strategies, including reduced the amount of food consumed and switching to less preferred foods. As a result, households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from March to June.

West-Congo Nile tea and food crops zones

Current Situation

Cash crops, food crops, livestock and casual labor are the main livelihood activities in this zone. Households, especially the poor, normally rely on both their own production and market purchases to access food. Households normally rely on their own crop production from January, when green harvests are available, through March.  The zone is characterized by low fertility, old soils (increasing the risk of erosion) and poor accessibility in remote areas due to the hilly topography. Other hazards that occasionally face the region include crop diseases and landslides.  

While some green harvests are available, the main harvest of climbing beans does not typically begin yet. During the season 'B' harvests, poor rainfall performance, Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and a reduction in the land area cultivated in Irish potatoes in the areas due to terracing activities caused below-average harvests. This led households to deplete their food stocks early and become dependent on market purchases earlier than normal. During the current season 'A' harvests, production is also expected to be below normal due to a high prevalence of crop diseases (Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and maize Caterpillar) and a lack of cassava cuttings during the planting period. In this zone, the main harvests of maize and climbing beans will occur in February.

Beans prices at main markets are still relatively stable compared to last month and are similar to or slightly higher than last year's prices (-1 percent and 9 percent, respectively). December maize prices were also higher than the previous month and last year's averages (4 percent and 22 percent, respectively).

At this time, labor demand is low as weeding activities are no longer occurring and the harvests have yet to begin. As a result, wages are at seasonally low levels at this time. However, casual labor opportunities still exist at tea plantations within the zone. Since current wages are low and food prices are elevated this year, households are currently facing reduced purchasing power, which is restricting food access at markets.

Given the poor season 'B' harvests, which caused household food stocks to deplete earlier than usual this year, limited labor opportunities, and the fact that season 'A' harvest have not yet begun, households are currently able to meet basic food needs but are unable to access essential nonfood needs without engaging in atypical coping strategies, such as selling additional small animals, migration to neighboring areas, limiting meal portion sizes, and reducing the number of meals consumed each day. Therefore, households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for January through June 2013 for the West Congo-Nile tea and food crops zone is based on the following zone-level assumptions:

  • Season 'A' harvest: Due to crop diseases and a lack of cassava cutting during the planting period, season 'A' harvests are expected to be below-average.
  • Food sources: Households have currently depleted their own food stocks and will rely on market purchases until the February harvests. After these harvests, households will depend on their own production. Given that season 'A' harvests  are expected to be below average, households will deplete their food stocks several weeks earlier than normal (early March this year versus late March during a normal year). This will cause households to again deplete their food stocks earlier than normal and means households will face an extended lean season.
  • Prices: Staple commodity prices will remain high until the first harvests in February. They will then decline slightly before increasing again during the lean season when market demand from households increases.  
  • Labor opportunities: Currently, on-farm labor opportunities are low as weeding activities have ended and harvesting activities have not yet begun. Labor availability will increase during the February to March period as harvesting and land preparation activities for the next season take place. Labor opportunities from tea plantations are expected to remain stable throughout the outlook period.
  • Cash crops: Coffee and tea production does not vary seasonally and will therefore behave normally during the scenario period.
  • Livestock: Livestock prices during the scenario period will behave normally with a slight decline in prices during the lean season. Improved pasture availability after the rainy season starts in March will improve body conditions and increase milk availability during the March through June period.
  • Remittances: Remittances are expected to remain stable during the scenario period.
  • Trade: Cross border trade will behave normally between Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC. This zone trades mainly with the Southern part of Kivu (Bukavu border). 
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Since many households had below-average, season 'B' harvests, which caused them to deplete their food stocks earlier than normal and employ atypical coping strategies, households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until harvests begin in February. Once the harvests start, households will rely on their own production of crops, including beans, banana plantains, peas, sweet potatoes, and fresh and dry cassava, and will be able to meet both essential food and nonfood needs without engaging in any atypical coping strategies. Therefore between February and early March, households will face minimal to no food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). However, below-average season 'A' harvests will again mean that households will deplete their food stocks several weeks earlier than normal (in March) and will face an atypically long lean season. In order to access basic food and non-food needs during the April through June period, households will employ consumption-based coping strategies including reducing calories intake and switching to less preferred foods such as marrow and taro.  Thereafter from mid-March to early June, poor households will again be Stressed (IPC phase 2) until the first harvests arrive in late June.

East Congo-Nile Highland subsistence farming zone

Current Situation

Subsistence farming, livestock and casual labor are the main livelihood activities in this zone. Households, especially the poor, normally rely on both own production and market purchase to meet food needs. Similar to the West-Congo Nile tea and food crops zones, this zone is characterized by relatively poor fertility, old soils which are at increased risk of soil erosion. In addition, remote areas of the region are difficult to access due to a hilly topography. Other hazards that occasionally face the zone include crop diseases and landslides.

For most areas, harvests of beans, soybeans, and rice are almost complete, with the exception of a few areas of Muhanga district where rainfall was delayed by around two months. In these areas, maize is still standing and is not close to maturity like the other areas. The delayed and poorly distributed rain across some areas of the zone caused slightly below average bean production. Below-average maize harvests are also expected in February. Banana Xanthomonas Wilt and maize caterpillar, as well as a lack of cassava cuttings in the region, are also contributing to the below-average season 'A' harvests.

Bean prices are starting to decline at major market compared to last month (-5 percent) but are still higher than last year's average (10 percent). Since the main harvests of maize have not yet occurred throughout the country, maize prices are slightly higher than last month (+4 percent) and are significantly higher than last year's averages (+26 percent).  

Pasture and animal body conditions are generally good since the rainy season just recently ended. Livestock prices are currently stable. 

Between July and August of 2012, a large number of refugees from the DRC settled in the zone. According to World Food Program (WFP), the DRC refugee population was 14,405 as of December 2012. Partners report normal food and non-food assistance interventions by organizations including UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, Red Cross, Government of Rwanda etc.

As weeding activities are no longer occurring, labor demand is relatively low at this time and is contributing to low wage rates. In addition, the increase in labor supply due to the DRC refugees who settled in the settled in Kigeme Camp are causing labor wages to decline faster than is seasonally normal (around 600 RWF per day this year compared to 700-800 RWF per day normally). Nevertheless, due to the recent harvests, households currently face None/Minimal food insecurity (IPC phase 1).

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for January through June 2013 for the East Congo-Nile Highland subsistence farming zone is based on the following zone-level assumptions:

  • Food sources: Due to poor rainfall, crop diseases, and a lack of cassava cuttings, season 'A' production is expected to be below-average. However, between January through mid-March, most households will rely on their own crop production. Around mid-March, household food stocks will start depleted and households will enter the lean season several weeks earlier than normal.
  • Prices: Since harvests for most crops, except maize, are almost complete, prices are expected to decline until the lean season in mid-March, but will remain higher than last year. Maize prices will be stable or will slightly increase until the harvests of this crop in February. Then maize prices will also decline until the lean season. Prices for all staple food are expected to increase from late-March through June as household will have depleted their food stocks and will be more dependent on market purchases.
  • Labor opportunities: Currently, on-farm activities are relatively low as harvesting require less labor than other agricultural activities. Labor opportunities will become more available during February to March as harvesting and land preparation activities for the next season take place. Labor wages are expected to be at normal levels except in areas neighboring Nyamagabe district where DRC refugees are settled.
  • Cash crops: Coffee and tea production and related labor opportunities do not vary seasonally and will behave normally during the scenario period. Poor households who sell their tea production (sales peak in April/May) are expected to earn normal income levels.
  •  Livestock: Pasture and animal conditions will decline slightly between January and March, and then will improve between March and June with the rainy season. Milk availability will also improve between March and June. Livestock prices will behave normally with a slight decline in prices during the lean season in April/May.  
  • Remittances: Remittances are expected to remain stable during the scenario period as usual.
  • Trade: Cross border trade conditions will behave normally between Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC. Similar to the West-Congo Nile tea and food crops zones, this zone trades mainly with the Southern part of Kivu (Bukavu border).  
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Due to the near completion of the season 'A' harvests in this zone, households are currently able to meet their food needs by relying on their own production. However given that the season 'A' harvests were below average, households will deplete their food stocks and will enter the lean season several weeks before normal in March. This will cause households to engage in atypical coping strategies, such as selling additional small livestock animals, to enable them to meet essential food and nonfood needs between March and early June. As a result, households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions between January to early March and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity conditions from March to early June.  

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Area

Event

Impact on food security outcomes

Eastern semi arid agro-pastoral zone

Cross border trade with Tanzania may allow lower priced foods to be  imported into the area

 

Season 'B' rainfall levels are abnormal

Food prices will declining, improving household food access

 

 

Poor rainfall performance may result in below average production, floods, and erosion; It may also delay harvests which would extend the length of the lean season

Western Congo Nile crest tea and food crops zone

Season 'B' rainfall levels are abnormal

Poor rainfall performance may result in below average production, floods, and erosion; It may also delay harvests which would extend the length of the lean season

Eastern Congo Nile Highlands subsistence farming zone

Season 'B' rainfall levels are abnormal

A change in the political situation in the DRC may allow refugees in  Rwanda to return home

Poor rainfall performance may result in below average production, floods, and erosion; It may also delay harvests which would extend the length of the lean season

The refugees' absence would lower labor competition; It would also slightly reduce demand at local markets

 

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 approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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