Food Security Outlook

Current “Minimal” food insecurity levels will evolve to “Stressed” during the lean season

July 2013 to December 2013
2013-Q3-1-1-RW-en

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

  • Food security conditions have improved among poor household across the country, following season ‘B’ harvests in June and July. In most areas, households will be able to access food normally by employing typical livelihood strategies and will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from now through December 2013. 

  • The season ‘B’ rains (normally February through May) ended several weeks early this year. In addition to causing below-average crop production in June/July, the early end to the rains is expected to cause pastoral resources to degrade at an above-normal rate during the current dry season. In the Eastern semi Arid Agro-pastoral zone and the Eastern Congo Nile Subsistence farming zone, where poor households are highly vulnerable to food security-related hazards, the effects of this agroclimatic shock on food and income sources are expected to result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes between September and December. 

  • On June 30, 2013, an estimated 70,000 Rwandan refugees living within neighboring countries lost their refugees status. Of these refugees, approximately 30,000 are expected to return to Rwanda before December 2013, according to UNHCR. This returnee inflow will likely increasing humanitarian assistance needs in Rwanda during the outlook period (July to December 2013).

National Overview

Current Situation

The dry season started approximately one month earlier than normal (in May), due to an early departure of the rains (Figure 2). This negatively impacted season ‘B’ crops, such as beans, sweet potatoes, soybeans, rice, and Irish potatoes, that were nearing their maturation stage when the rains ended (Figure 3). As a result, season ‘B’ harvests in June/July were below-average. However as of the end of July, households were still able to meet their food consumption needs through their own crop production, similar to a normal year, and were not yet market dependant.

In most areas, poor households are currently earning relatively normal income levels through typical, dry season activities, such as crop sales, petty trade, livestock and animal products sales, and casual labor work at construction sites or tea plantations. Despite the early end to the rainy season, pasture and water availability is still adequate and livestock body conditions are near average. As a result, agropastoral households are earning normal livestock-related incomes.  During the recent harvests, increased labor demand for harvesting caused agricultural wages to seasonally increase, from approximately 1,000 RWF compared to 800 RWF at other times of the year.  

Prices for beans and maize were stable in June as harvests had not yet fully replenished market stocks. For example, bean and maize prices at the wholesale market in Kigali – a generally good indicator of national price trends – declined four and five percent, respectively, compared to May 2013 levels. In addition, current staple food prices throughout the country are generally similar to or slightly above last year’s levels. Relatively normal incomes, coupled with stable food prices, are facilitating normal access for poor households who are purchasing staple foods on local markets.

Until recently, the refugee population in Rwanda had been relatively stable. However, recent fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) triggered new arrivals in June, with 666 new refugees registered by Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs. Most refugees in Rwanda are currently residing in permanent camps - or transit centers in the case of new refugees - located in the Rubavu, Nyamagabe, Karongi, Gicumbi, and Nyagatare districts. These refugees are also dependant on protection and food assistance provided by UNHCR and WFP, respectively. While crop production is not possible for refugees due to a lack of cultivable land surrounding the camps, refugees are seeking out other alternatives to supplement their food and income needs, such as casual labor or petty trade activities.

Due to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Cessation Clause, an estimated 70,000 Rwandan refugees living within neighboring countries lost their refugee status on June 30, 2013. Approximately 4,400 returnees have re-entered Rwanda this year, including an estimated 570 returnees who registered during the last month. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the largest number of Rwandan refugees reside, has asked for three months to assess the number of Rwandan refugees within the country. Meanwhile other countries, including Uganda, Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, have already indicated that they are ready to apply the cessation of refugee status to Rwandans in their respective countries and are in negotiations with the Rwandan government on the steps to move forward. Returnees to Rwanda are receiving three-month food rations as well as basic non-food items (NFIs) before proceeding to their districts of origin. Until these returnees are able to rebuild their livelihoods and start generating normal levels of income, they will highly vulnerable to extreme poverty and food insecurity.

Assumptions

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

  • Rainfall conditions: Seasonal forecasts from major metrological centers (NOAA, IRI, and ECMWF) are not showing any major abnormalities for Rwanda over the outlook period. As a result, FEWS NET is assuming that the short rainy season (September to November) will be normal.  
  • Upcoming harvest: Given a normal short rainy season, cropping season ‘A’ harvests are expected to be normal and start on-time in December.  
  • Food stocks: Due to a below-average season ‘B’ harvest, household food stocks across the country will generally deplete in August, approximately one month earlier than normal.
  • Dry season incomes: During the dry season (June to August), poor households will generate relatively normal incomes from crop and small animal sales, off-farm casual labor (ex. construction work), and on-farm land preparation activities.
  • Livestock incomes: Due to the early departure of the season ‘B’ rains, the dry season will prolonged and will cause an earlier than normal decline in pasture and water availability. As a result, animal body conditions will be negatively impacted, causing milk and meat availability to be below-average. Likewise, households selling livestock and livestock products will receive slightly to moderately below-average incomes. Starting in mid-September, the situation will improve as the short season rains begin and livestock conditions return to normal for the second half of the outlook period (October to December).
  • Agricultural labor income: During the scenario period, agriculture labor demand, supply, and wages are expected to be normal and follow typical seasonal trends. Wages will be seasonally low between July and August due to relatively low demand during the dry season and then higher between September and October as labor demand peaks for season ‘A’ land preparation and planting activities. Tea plantation labor opportunities will continue at normal levels throughout the outlook period.
  • Major expenditures: The school season will begin in August and will require poor households to pay for school fees, materials, and transportation to and from their children’s schools.
  • Staple commodity prices: Following the season ‘B’ harvest, prices for staple foods will decline through August. Prices will then start to increase between September and December as food stocks deplete and households become more reliant on market purchases to access food. Prices will generally remain moderately above last year’s levels throughout the entire outlook period.
  • Refugees: Due to recent fighting in the DRC, refugee inflows are expected to be at higher levels during the upcoming months compared to the first half of the 2013. These refugees will receive humanitarian assistance from UNHCR and WFP.
  • Returnees: Due to Rwandan refugees in neighboring countries losing their refugee status, approximately 30,000 returnees are expected to enter Rwanda between July to December outlook period, according to UNHCR. These returnees will receive a three-month ration upon arrival and will then return to their region of origin.
Most likely food security outcomes

During the July to August period, households across the country will access food normally through their own food stocks. However due to poor season ‘B’ harvests, households will then become market dependant approximately one month earlier than normal (in August instead of September). For most areas of the country, relatively normal income levels during the entire outlook period will help offset the effects of the below-average harvests and households will be able to purchase food on local markets without significant difficulty between August and the season ‘A’ harvests in December. Consequently, poor households in most areas of the country will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity during the entire outlook period.

However in two areas of concern described below (the Eastern semi arid agro pastoral livelihood zone and the Eastern Congo Nile highland subsistence farming livelihood zone), poor households are highly vulnerable to food security-related hazards and the below-average season ‘B’ harvests will cause households to have difficulties accessing food during the peak of the lean season (October to early December). In these areas, households will engage in a variety of atypical coping strategies, such as temporary migration to other zones and/or the sale of additional small animals, to meet basic food needs and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the second half of the outlook period. 

Areas of Concern

Eastern semi arid agro-pastoral zone

Current situation

Endowed with fertile young soils, this livelihood zone is especially vulnerable to poor rainfall performance. As a result, the impact of the early end of the rainy season was more severe compared to other areas of the country. In particular, the harvest of maize - an important crop for the zone - was affected with a decline in production estimated at 15 percent compared to average. Meanwhile harvests of less drought-sensitive crops, such as sorghum, beans, bananas, and cassava, were relatively normal. Currently, poor households are relying on both their own crop production and market food purchases to access food, which is normal for this zone.  

In addition to crop sales, livestock sales and casual labor are important sources of income in this zone. As of July, pasture availability is relatively normal and livestock are in good physical condition. In addition, livestock prices are stable but above last year’s levels, generating favorable incomes for agropastoralists.  Milk production levels and prices are also seasonally normal. Dry season construction labor opportunities within the zone are available through government programs to support the poor through the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program. These programs include irrigation infrastructures and agri mechanization projects in the Masho valley and Muvumba swamp and a water dam reclamation project in the sectors of Rugarama, Gitoki and Rwimbogo in Gatsibo district. Casual labor wages at these sites are relatively normal, ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 RWF per day.

 

Staple food prices in June, at the beginning of the harvest period, varied at the Nyakarambi market, depending on whether or not harvests of a particularly crop had begun to reach markets and improve stock levels.  For example, bean prices were relatively stable (-3%) compared to May while maize increased by 9 percent.  However for all commodities except maize, June prices were well above last year’s levels (ranging from +11 to +81 percent).  

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for July through December 2013 for the Eastern semi arid Agro-pastoral zone is based on the following zone-level assumptions:

  • Food sources: Due to an early end of the rainy season and its effects on local maize production, household food stocks are currently below-average and will only last approximately six weeks. As a result, households will become market dependant in late July to mid-August, approximately a month earlier than normal, and will continue to rely on market purchases until the next harvests in December.
  • Staple Food Prices: Bean prices at the Nyakarambi market will decline between July and August as crop production from the recent harvests improve market stock levels. However once household food stocks deplete in August, prices will gradually increase at a slightly faster rate than normal (due to atypical strong household demand) until the next harvests in December. FEWS NET price projections suggest that bean prices at this market will be approximately 400 RWF/kg in December, which would be 9 percent above December 2012 levels.  
  • Cross border trade: Cross border trade with Tanzania will continue at status quo levels.
Most likely Food security Outcomes

Between July and August, poor households will continue to rely on their own production and normal livelihood strategies, such as casual labor and small animal sales, to meet their essential food and non-food needs. However, due to an increased vulnerability to food security-related shocks and last season’s below-average crop production levels, poor households in this zone will have difficulties accessing food between September and December. During this time period, households will employ atypical coping strategies and resort to consuming less preferred food items. As a result, households are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity during the second half of the scenario period.

East Congo-Nile Highland subsistence farming zone                                                                                                       

Current situation

A FEWS NET field assessment to this livelihood zone in June found that several rainfall anomalies during the season ‘B’ rainy season negatively affected harvest levels in June: 1) a late onset of the rains in some localities, 2) heavy and above-average rainfall levels in April that caused crop damages, and 3) an early end to the season, approximately one month earlier than normal. As a result, total season ‘B’ crop production was estimated to be approximately 15 to 20 percent below average. In addition, planting activities for the minor, agricultural season ‘C’ occurred on-time in June/July with farmers planting beans, sweet potatoes, soybeans, and vegetables in marshland areas.

In addition to farming, casual labor and livestock sales are important livelihood activities in this zone, with current incomes from these sources at relatively normal levels. During the dry season, many poor households migrate to either nearby towns to work at construction sites or to the Eastern province to find work tilling land for upcoming cropping season ‘A’. Wages from these activities are seasonally normal and range from 1,000 to 2,000 RWF per day.  With regards to livestock sales, poor households are generally selling small animals such as rabbits, chickens, pigs, and sheep. Prices have seasonally improved since the lean season in April/May, providing households selling animals at this time with relatively good incomes.  

With the start of harvests, June prices for most key commodities at Birambo market within this livelihood zone were relatively stable or in decline. For example, the price of whole maize prices was at 180 RWF/kg, which is a 21 percent decline compared to May 2013 levels. Similarly, prices for beans and cooking bananas were relatively stable, changing -5 percent and +3 percent compared to May, respectively. These declining or stable prices are improving food access for household still purchasing staple foods on local markets.

Assumptions

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

  • Season ‘C’ harvest: This minor, marshland harvest will occur on-time and with relatively normal production levels in September/October. However, harvests from this season are not significant and will not offset the effects of below-average season ‘B’ harvest in June/July.   
  • Household food stocks: Due to currently below-average household stock levels, households will deplete their food stocks approximately one month earlier than normal in September. Between October and December, households will be completely market dependant.
  • Prices: During the first half of the scenario period (July to September), prices for staple food prices will follow normal seasonal trends. However, due to the early depletion of household food stocks, prices will likely increase at a slightly faster rate than is seasonally normal between October and December. Based on FEWS NET price projections, bean prices at Birambo market will reach an estimated 408 RWF per kg in December 2013, which would represent a 15 percent increase compared to last year’s levels.
Most likely Food security Outcomes

Similar to the Eastern semi arid agro-pastoral zone, poor households in this zone will be able to meet their food consumption needs normally through their own crop production and normal livelihood strategies until August. However, due to an early depletion of household food stocks and a high vulnerability to shocks, households will have difficulties accessing food between September and December and will likely need to employ atypical coping strategies, such as selling additional small animals. As a result, households will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between July and September and will then face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes between October and late December. 

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Area

Event

Impact on food security outcomes

National

 

 

  • Increase in fuel prices

 

  • Export ban imposed in neighboring country

 

  • Increased transportation costs that could cause staple food prices to increase.
  • Trade flows would be disrupted and prices at local markets would likely increase.

Eastern semi arid agro-pastoral zone

 

  • Start of the short rainy season is delayed

 

 

  • Rainfall deficits during the short rainy season
  • Pasture and water availability would decline atypically, causing poor livestock body conditions and below-average household incomes.
  • Below-average crop production levels would take place in December.

Eastern Congo Nile Highlands subsistence farming zone

  • DRC refugees return home

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Start of the short rainy season is delayed

 

  • The departure of the refugees would reduce labor competition, causing slightly higher wages for local households. Also, demand for staple foods at local markets would decline, possibly causing food price levels to fall.  

 

  • Pasture and water availability would decline atypically, causing poor livestock body conditions and below-average household incomes.

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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