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Season A harvest and declining staple food prices drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes

  • Key Message Update
  • Rwanda
  • January 2022
Season A harvest and declining staple food prices drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Available information suggests most of the Rwandan population is currently able to meet their minimum food needs, indicative of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. The completion of the Season A harvest, coupled with the easing of domestic and cross-border COVID-19 movement restrictions that were disrupting market supply, has improved food availability and access across the country. In most rural areas, key informants report a near-normal harvest of seasonal cereals, roots and tubers, and beans, as well as inter-seasonal crops such as bananas. In Eastern Province, however, key informants estimate a 60 percent reduction in the local bean harvest compared to a typical year due to erratically distributed rainfall from September to December. Despite the bean shortfall, most farmers in Eastern Province still have minimally adequate food and income from other crops – which were less sensitive to erratic rainfall – as well as casual labor and sales of poultry and small ruminants.

    • Improved market supply has driven a decline in staple cereal and vegetable prices to pre-pandemic levels in both rural and urban areas, according to data collected by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), though some price anomalies persist. In December, the NISR Consumer Price Index (CPI) for ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ in rural areas was 13 percent lower than December 2020 and nine percent lower than December 2019. In urban areas, the CPI fell by two percent compared to last year but remains slightly elevated (two percent) compared to December 2019. In both cases, vegetable prices have fallen the most significantly, while meat, milk, and egg prices remain above normal, primarily due to high animal feed prices. In addition to higher animal protein prices, key informants report imported wheat prices have risen by approximately 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. The poor bean harvest in Eastern Province has also led to a local spike in bean prices, where key informants report a kilo of medium quality beans currently costs 500 RWF compared to 450 RWF in a normal year.

    • Although Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are widespread, some urban households are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) amid the ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic. The government lifted the most stringent COVID-19 restrictions over the course of 2021, and 51.5 percent of the population was already fully immunized by mid-January 2022. The latest NISR Labor Force Survey shows an increase in economic activity fueled by the growth of the industrial sector by 12 percent, service sector by 11 percent, and agriculture sector by 6 percent in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020. However, NISR data on labor force participation and unemployment suggest unemployment in urban areas remains elevated above pre-pandemic levels. With the surge of COVID-19 cases in December that led to the re-introduction of some restrictions that affect business operating hours and capacity, it is likely that some households still face difficulty earning enough income to fully cover all essential food and non-food needs.

    • There is also continued concern for Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes among refugees and asylum seekers, a population that has declined to around 127,000 people due to a voluntary repatriation program to Burundi. Based on data from WFP and UNHCR, most of the population is considered at high risk of food insecurity due to their limited income-earning capacity and lack of social support, which worsened during the pandemic. While their access to casual labor income-earning opportunities is likely somewhat improving given the easing of most COVID-19 restrictions, they mainly rely on humanitarian food assistance to mitigate the occurrence of food consumption gaps. Available information from WFP indicates that 85 percent of refugees receive a food ration equivalent to 92 percent of their monthly food needs, and an additional 7 percent receive a food ration equivalent to 46 percent of their monthly food needs. Without this assistance, the refugee population would likely face worse acute food insecurity outcomes indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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