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Near-average harvest still expected despite below-average rainfall

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • April 2017
Near-average harvest still expected despite below-average rainfall

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 2017 Season B (February to May) rains started slightly late and have so far been below-average, about 80 percent of normal. However, since the rains have been well-distributed, crop growth has not been affected. Poor households in Kayonza, Kirehe, Ngoma, and Bugesera districts are expected to continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the lean April-May period following a poor Season A harvest, but Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in the June-September post-harvest period are still projected. 

    • Due to domestic and regional crop production shortfalls in December-January, the prices of staple foods have risen even higher than seasonal norms. According to the National Statistics Institute, the prices of fresh food products in March were over 17 percent higher than last year, constraining poor household market access. 

    • According to UNHCR, as of April 24, there were more than 85,000 post-April 2015 Burundian refugees in Rwanda, an increase in arrivals of about 430 since last month. However, serious funding gaps remain for this population. UNHCR’s Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan for Rwanda had only received four percent of total funding as of April 4, leaving a gap of USD 53.6 million. WFP recently warned that if it did not receive additional resources, its food assistance to refugees would be impacted in May. This would lead to a deterioration in refugees’ food security outcomes to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they are entirely dependent on this assistance. 




    Eastern Region

    ·    In some areas of Kayonza, Kirehe, Ngoma, and Bugesera districts, poor households’ food stocks are atypically low following a below-average 2017 Season A harvest, and with limited incomes, their food access is expected to be constrained until the Season B harvest begins in June.

    ·    Crops are growing normally and with expectations of a near-normal harvest, poor households will be able to access their own production. With staple food prices expected to fall further with the harvest, acute food security outcomes are likely to improve for the majority of households to None (IPC Phase 1).

    Refugees in Mahama Camp in Kirehe District  

    ·    The estimated 54,000 Burundian refugees in Mahama Camp are dependent on humanitarian assistance and do not have access to other livelihood opportunities. UNHCR and WFP have reported significant funding gaps for refugee assistance.

    ·    The severity of acute food insecurity is likely to accentuate substantially if there are significant ration cuts or a complete pipeline break if additional funding is not secured. The refugees would be expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they do not have the ability to cover their food gaps.


    Despite a late start to the Season B rainy season in some areas of Rwanda and below-average rainfall to date, crops are growing normally, supported by better rainfall distribution than during 2016 Season A, and most areas have received about 80 percent of normal rainfall. A late March FEWS NET field visit determined that farmers in drought-prone areas, such as in Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral zone, were staggering their planting to reduce the risks of total losses in case of dry spells during the season. This strategy is likely to allow that even with total cumulative below-average rainfall through May, a near-average harvest is likely, which will improve food availability and access starting in June. In addition, the short-term rainfall forecast looks favorable. As a result, the majority of poor households in Kayonza, Kirehe, Ngoma, and Bugesera districts are expected to be able to meet their minimum food needs and are projected to be in None (IPC Phase 1) beginning in June. However, there is the possibility that a few localized households may still be unable to meet some of their essential non-food needs as they recover from a severe crop production shortfall in 2017 A and could remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The prices of staples have been rising nearly each month for over a year, making access to food difficult for the poor, especially during the previous poor season, which necessitated the need for earlier market purchases. The National Institute of Statistics for Rwanda (NISR), indicated on April 10 that food staples increased by about 17 percent in March 2017 compared to a year ago. However, prices have begun to ease slightly and are expected to typically decrease even further with the harvest and remain lower through September, improving poor household purchasing power.

    The Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan for 2017 for Rwanda that covers both food and non-food needs is still facing serious funding gaps, which is likely to lead to serious food assistance disruptions in May for the majority of Burundian refugees, who are living in Mahama camp in Kirehe District. These refugees are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity if no immediate funding is provided to WFP to allow it to continue its food distributions from May onwards.

    Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes are expected to persist through the April-May lean season in a few areas in Eastern Province. However, with the Season B harvest and increased food availability and income, outcomes are expected to improve countrywide to Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, Burundian refugees are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September due to the projected humanitarian assistance shortfalls.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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