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Rising food prices constrain access to food for some households

  • Key Message Update
  • Rwanda
  • May 2022
Rising food prices constrain access to food for some households

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Food availability in rural areas remains broadly favorable, bolstered by the harvest of fast-maturing vegetable crops from season B. Livestock and poultry production conditions are also favorable due to recent rainfall. As a result, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are widespread. However, the number of rural households that are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) has likely reached a biannual peak during the ongoing minor lean season (April-May) due to atypically high food prices. In Northern and Southern provinces, for example, key informants report that retail rice and sugar prices have risen by 15-40 percent and 60-120 percent, respectively, since January, while the price of retail cooking oil has risen by about 130 percent. Overall, price hikes are sharpest for imported products, driven by tight regional supply and global food and fuel price shocks.

    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected from June to September, though a subset of the rural population will most likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The season B harvest in June/July is expected to be near average, driving normal food availability. Overall, crop growth and development have benefitted from good rainfall performance, despite localized anomalies. However, some farmers have reduced their use of fertilizer and pesticides due to higher prices for these products, while others have opted to sell more of their crops than usual or take on more debt to pay for them. Although the impact of high input prices is mitigated by government subsidies, these issues will likely offset any gains in crop yields from good rainfall. In addition, poor rural households will also face some constraints on their purchasing power due to above-normal food prices.

    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are also expected to continue in Kigali, though there is concern that an elevated number of urban households face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Economic activity continues to exhibit growth, especially in industrial output, but urban poor households are still contending with high levels of unemployment and atypically high food prices. Food prices are rising more sharply in urban areas than rural areas, and the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) reports the urban Consumer Price Index (CPI) for ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ rose by 15.7 percent in April compared to the same period of 2021. The annual change in the food CPI is approaching the peak observed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the food CPI increased by 15.8-19.9 percent on an annual basis between January and April 2020. 

    • The refugee and asylee population of Rwanda, estimated to be 127,112 people as of April 30, most likely faces Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes based on their limited access to typical food and income sources and their access to a partial food assistance ration. According to WFP’s March report, 112,620 people received food assistance. Households considered highly vulnerable (86 percent) received a cash transfer value intended to purchase up to 92 percent of 2,100 kilocalories (kcals), while those considered moderately vulnerable (7 percent) received a cash transfer value that could purchase up to 46 percent of 2,100 kcals. However, when taking rising staple food prices and essential non-food needs into account, the quantity of food that a household can purchase with the cash transfer value is likely lower. Due to funding gaps, WFP will continue to deliver partial rations through September. Without food aid, this population would likely face worse 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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