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Average to above-average household food stocks stabilize food access

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • April 2021
Average to above-average household food stocks stabilize food access

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Above normal household cereal stocks following the favorable 2020/2021 Season A harvest, and reduced market sales due to prior COVID-19 restrictions, has increased rural food availability and contributed to 15 percent below-average to average food prices. Increased market supply of produce, particularly Irish potatoes and maize, have stabilized rural market food prices, with income from agricultural labor for Season B planting and weeding increasing household purchasing power. Stable household food access and income from crop sales and agricultural activities are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    • Following a reduction in daily COVID-19 cases since early April and the start of vaccination programs, the government has progressively reviewed and eased the strict control measures increasing income-earning opportunities and food access for urban households. The lifting of the lockdown in Kigali and the resumption of inter-district movement have increased economic activity across the country, particularly for urban poor households engaged in casual labor, petty trade, and small business. The increased economic activity is maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas. However, economic activity remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels as remaining restrictions such as 30 percent businesses operating capacity, an 8 pm business closure mandate, and 50 percent public transport capacity continue limiting income-earning opportunities.

    • In March, WFP reduced assistance to refugees in Rwanda by 60 percent due to a 9.3 million USD funding shortfall through 2021. Approximately 135,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees are expected to be impacted by the assistance reductions. However, WFP has maintained full rations for around 51,000 refugees identified as particularly vulnerable, including children under two years old, pregnant and nursing mothers, people living with HIV, and tuberculosis patients under treatment. Ration reductions and COVID-19 impact are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity within refugee communities.

    Kigali City
    • The COVID-19 control measures impact economic activity and limit income-earning opportunities and food access among the urban poor.
    • Sustained COVID-19 control measures are expected to limit urban household access to income, with the most vulnerable urban poor households adopting coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2).



    Following the average Season A maize harvest in March, movement restrictions limited rural household access to urban and rural markets, increasing rural household food stocks. Additionally, rural household income from agricultural labor (planting and weeding) is improving household purchasing power and market access following the lifting of the inter-district movement restrictions in mid-March. Additionally, the onset of the long rainy season B is benefitting vegetable production across Rwanda. In April, according to key informants, maize prices are 200-250 RWF/kg in rural areas, around 15 percent lower than average.  Irish potato prices are also reportedly up to 10 percent below-average, ranging between 200-300 RWF in the rural areas of the Northern and Southern provinces. However, in the Eastern province, bean shortages have been reported due to a poor 2020/21 Season A bean harvest. In rural areas, bean prices during the minor lean season are projected to increase from 550-600 RWF/kg to 650 RWF/kg, around 10-15 percent above average, as the market supply dwindles. However, the availability of cereal stocks, Irish potatoes, vegetables, and income from crop sales and agricultural labor maintains Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    Following a decrease in daily COVID-19 cases through April, the resumption of inter-district travel has increased economic activity and income-earning opportunities for rural and urban households. However, existing control measures such as 30 percent businesses operating capacity, 50 percent operating capacity at markets and malls and public transport, an 8 pm close of business mandate, and a 9 pm to 4 am curfew is continuing to limit income-earning opportunities returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, particularly for urban poor households. However, the easing of control measures and increased economic activity is increasing income-earning opportunities and household purchasing power, particularly for urban poor households, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) area-level outcomes in urban areas. In the Southern Province, five districts identified as COVID-19 hotspots are under a 7:00 pm to 4:00 am curfew along with the national control measures, with households maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. In the Western Province, households typically reliant on small-scale trade face a challenge sustaining pre-COVID-19 trade levels as access to markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo remain limited due to border regulations. Households are continuing to trade locally within Rwanda, but the most affected households are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited access to income to purchase non-food needs.

    On March 5, 2021, the government started distributing COVID-19 vaccinations prioritizing healthcare staff, people over the age of 60, and people with co-morbidities. Approximately 389,000 people are expected to be vaccinated by the end of April 2021.

    According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the national consumer price index (CPI) in March 2021 increased by 1.4 percent compared to February 2021, around 1.7 percent higher than the respective prices last year. In urban and rural areas, the price of 'food and non-alcoholic beverages' increased by 2.9 and 1.8 percent, respectively, compared to February 2021. Compared to February, the increase in March prices is primarily driven by an 8.2 and 3.6 percent increases in 'vegetable' prices in urban and rural areas, respectively, likely due to the inter-district movement restrictions.  However, in March, the cost of 'bread and cereals' decreased by 3 percent across Rwanda compared to February 2021 and was 5.1 percent lower than respective prices in 2020, driven by the availability of cereal stocks from the Season A harvest.

    According to UNHCR, as of March 31, 2021, Rwanda hosted 128,456 the refugee and asylum-seekers, primarily from the DRC and Burundi. These households rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their food needs. In March 2021, WFP reduced general food assistance by 60 percent due to a funding shortfall of 9.3 million USD through 2021. In late March 2021, WFP received 794,000 USD from the Canadian government to maintain full rations for targeted nutritional support for 51,000 refugees identified as vulnerable such as children under two years old, schoolchildren, pregnant and nursing mothers, people living with HIV, and tuberculosis patients under treatment. Owing to dwindling income-earning opportunities exacerbated by the economic impact of COVID-19, the reduction in assistance will likely drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes among refugees.


    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates based on data from RATIN

    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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