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Pockets of households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), mainly due to elevated food prices

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • April 2022
Pockets of households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), mainly due to elevated food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • During the minor lean season in Rwanda, rural households are relying on food stocks from the recent Season A harvest and fast-maturing and interseason crops grown during the Season B rains. At the same time, households are purchasing more food from the market as household food stocks seasonally decline. While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are most likely, a subset of households are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) amid high and rising food prices, particularly in Eastern Province.

    • While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely In Kigali City, some households face difficulty affording both their food and non-food needs and are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Economic analyses concur that economic activity is recovering from the pandemic, but given the elevated unemployment rate and above-normal food prices, purchasing power remains lower than usual.

    • Rising food prices are likely to remain a constraint on household food access in both rural and urban areas through September. Global food and fuel price shocks linked to the Ukraine crisis are expected to contribute to this trend, though robust government subsidies are expected to mitigate rising fertilizer prices and support the secondary Season B harvest in June. Regional import volumes are expected to slowly improve given the re-opening of Rwandan borders, but cross-border cooperation issues are yet to be ironed out.

    • Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes will likely persist among the refugee and asylee population, which numbers around 128,000. Most have limited or no access to income or social support, especially in the aftermath of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and they rely on food assistance. The most recent WFP report indicates 114,153 people received assistance in February, with those categorized as highly vulnerable receiving a 92 percent cash ration and those categorized as moderately vulnerable receiving a 46 percent cash ration. Without food aid, this population would likely face food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).





    • Food prices are higher than normal, driven by a seasonal decline in the domestic staple food supply; a lack of harmonized cross-border trade regulations following the re-opening of the border with Uganda and the DRC; and global food and fuel supply shocks related to the Russia-Ukraine war. Cross-border trade constraints and global supply shocks are also placing pressure on the price of non-food essential items, including the cost of transporting goods and purchasing gas to cook.
    • High food prices are expected to continue to undermine household purchasing power. First, the cost of trading and transporting cross-border goods will likely remain higher than normal until regulations are better harmonized. Second, the impacts of the war in Ukraine on fertilizer, food, and fuel prices are expected to exacerbate both domestic and imported food costs. Food prices are expected to peak in May, when domestic food supplies reach their lowest point of the April-September scenario period.

    Rural areas

    • Household food stocks from the Season A harvest are atypically low in parts of Eastern Province, due to irregular rainfall last year, and in localized areas of Northern and Southern provinces, due to post-harvest losses from excess moisture in early 2022.
    • Key informants report that pulse prices are moderately above normal due to localized shortfalls in the Season A bean harvest. Prices are highest in Eastern Province.
    • Although food prices in rural areas were lower in March compared to last year, the rural Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food and non-alcoholic beverages is 25.7 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels in March 2019. The rural CPI for ‘housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels” rose by 2.5 and 17.2 percent on a monthly and annual basis, respectively.
    • Amid rising food prices, the price of beans is likely to be highest in Eastern Province, where the Season A bean harvest was below normal. Reduced access to beans will likely lower the quality of household diets.
    • Although total Season B prospects are favorable, localized areas will likely experience a delayed, below-normal maize and beans harvest due to extended rainfall in January/February that affected the timing of planting. Affected households will likely see a drop in food availability and income.
    • Season B crop yields will also likely moderately decline due to high and rising fertilizer prices. The Rwandan government plans to mitigate the impact of high prices – which rose in 2021 and are rising further due to the Ukraine crisis – through the use of subsidies. Subsidies promoted a 33 percent increase in fertilizer use per hectare in 2021 (60 kg compared to 45 kg in 2020).

    Kigali City

    • Despite significant gains in economic activity in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021, the unemployment rate is significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, reaching 23.8 percent in Q4 2021 according to the quarterly NISR Labor Force Survey. Below-normal income, together with high food prices, continue to constrain urban households’ purchasing power.
    • In March, the urban CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 10.2 percent on an annual basis and by 5.1 percent monthly. The CPI was 29.1 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels in March 2019. The urban CPI for ‘housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ rose by 3.9 and 8.1 percent on a monthly and annual basis, respectively, and key informants report rising costs for soap and lotion.  
    • According to the latest World Bank projections, Rwanda’s economic recovery will most likely continue in 2022. While household employment and other income sources will likely improve, total household income in 2022 will most likely be lower than a typical year amid the gradual recovery.


    Refugee and asylee population

    • According to WFP, around 90 percent of the refugee and asylum seeker population (127,585 people) receives food assistance. Households WFP classifies as highly vulnerable (about 86 percent of the population) receive the equivalent of a 90 percent ration in cash, estimated to provide up to 27 days of their kilocalorie (kcal) needs. Households classified as moderately vulnerable (7 percent of the population) receive a 45 percent cash ration, estimated to provide up to 14 days of their kcal needs. However, the actual amount of food a household can purchase may be lower than estimated due to rising staple food prices, which reduces the purchasing power of the cash ration.
    • Additional funding for food assistance is expected to permit the sustained delivery of partial cash rations to over 114,000 people through December 2022, but funding shortfalls will prevent the restoration of full rations. Highly vulnerable households are most likely to receive a 90 percent cash ration, while moderately vulnerable households are likely to receive a 45 percent cash ration. Based on the rising cost of food, the actual amount of food a household can access will likely decline if cash transfer values are not calibrated.  
    • It is possible the number of refugees and asylees may progressively increase due to the new UK-Rwanda agreement to relocate undocumented, eligible migrants to Rwanda. However, legal challenges are expected to delay implementation of the plan.


    In rural areas, household food and income from crop production, labor, and poultry and small ruminant production are expected to be minimally adequate to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through September. However, seasonal declines in food availability during the minor lean season (April to May) and below-normal household purchasing power is expected to result in a Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for a subset of households, especially in Eastern and Northern provinces. Reduced access to beans, coupled with elevated food prices, will most likely negatively affect household dietary diversity due to increased reliance on cheaper and less preferred foods. According to the NISR Consumer Price Index, vegetables, bread, and non-alcoholic drinks are the items currently driving food inflation. This trend is expected to be sustained through September, driven by a combination of domestic, regional, and global factors. Higher imported commodity costs are in part attributed to the Ukraine crisis, which has caused global volatility in grain prices, worsened global vegetable oil shortages, and driven up fuel prices, which in turn increases the costs of food transportation. However, wheat composes less than 15 percent of Rwanda’s cereal demand, and Rwanda’s cereal import requirements are below average.

    Rising fertilizer prices pose a potential concern for crop production in 2022, particularly amid delayed planting for the Season B harvest, which has already caused some farmers to reduce area planted. Reductions to fertilizer use and, therefore, crop yields will likely by mitigated by government fertilizer subsidies and the promotion of organic manure. For example, even though the cost of NPK fertilizer rose by 24 percent from July 2021 to January 2022, the subsidized price remains 35 percent lower than the market price. Subsidies proved effective in mitigating the impact of high fertilizer prices during the late 2021 Season A production season, as total fertilizer use per hectare rose from 45 kg in 2020 to 60 kg in 2021. Nevertheless, fertilizer usage is uneven between wealth groups, and poor subsistence farmers are still vulnerable to higher subsidized prices, leading to reduced spending on inputs and lower crop yields at the household level.

    Food security in urban areas is expected to remain stable, driven by significant post-COVID-19 gains in economic activity in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021 and the latest World Bank projection of a sustained recovery trend in 2022. However, the latest NISR Labor Force Survey showed the unemployment rate remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, reaching 23.8 percent in Q4 2021. Given that food and essential non-food items remain not only significantly above pre-pandemic levels in urban areas but also show a rising trend compared to last year and last month (Figure 1), limited household purchasing power is expected to remain a limiting factor for food access for some households. While the overall improvement in economic activity will most likely maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, a subset of households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), manifested in lower dietary diversity, consumption of cheaper foods, and reduced meal sizes.  

    Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely among the 127,585 protracted refugee and asylee population in Rwanda, most of whom depend on humanitarian food assistance, given that they have little to no access to productive assets or financial capital amid rising food prices. Although WFP received additional funding for food assistance in April 2022, this is only expected to permit the delivery of partial cash rations to over 114,000 people identified as either highly (86 percent of the population) or moderately (7 percent of the population) vulnerable through December 2022. Funding shortfalls of about 9.8 million USD will prevent the restoration of full general food assistance distributions. As a result, there is a gap in coverage of a household’s minimum monthly kcal needs, and the refugee and asylee population faces challenges covering the gap through other means amid the progressive recovery of the local economy and elevated costs of food and non-food items. Without food aid, they would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.

    Figures Mid-December to mid-February is harvest A. February to March is land preparation. 
Mid-February to mid-May is the long rainy

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Chart showing the change in the rural and urban Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food and non-alcoholic drinks in March 2022

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: data from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda

    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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