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Acute food insecurity to persist in cassava zones through early December

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • August 2015
Acute food insecurity to persist in cassava zones through early December

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Poor households in the Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through early December. Sustained food insecurity is attributed to below-average Season B production, compounded local currency depreciation, increasing fuel prices, reduced local labor opportunities, and atypically high food and non-food prices.

    • While the flow of refugees from Burundi has declined substantially, about 75,500 refugees still reside in Rwanda, exerting continued pressure on access to food and income sources of poor host households.  However, this strain is expected to ease in the coming months as refugees continue to integrate into established camps or return home. 







    Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone in Eastern Province

    • Maize, bean, cassava, and sweet potato harvests were below average leading to reduced household food stocks which are depleting more rapidly than normal.
    • Poor deficit-producing households are expected to rely on market purchases over a longer period, beginning in August instead of September, through most of November, even as food prices rise above normal levels.

    Kirehe, Bugesera, Kigali, Nyanza, Nyagatare and Huye districts

    • Refugee inflows from Burundi, though reduced, continue to strain food and income sources for poor households.
    • The Burundian refugee population inflow into Rwanda is anticipated to decline significantly over the coming months due to increasing political stability.



    • Depreciation of the local currency, coupled with an increase in fuel, food and non-food prices.
    • Food prices are likely to rise, at least through early December, as transport costs increase and household food stocks diminish.

    Projected outlook through December 2015

    The lean season is expected to begin in September, instead of October, in the Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone and is also anticipated to peak over two months, in October and November, instead of the normal peak in November.  The early start to the lean season is primarily attributed to well-below normal maize, bean, cassava, and sweet potato Season B harvests.  Subsequently, poor households have drawn down their food stocks earlier than is typical, just one month after the July harvests.  Cassava harvests, in particular, have been consistently low since December 2014 due to substantial losses that resulted from infestation by the Cassava Brown Streak Virus, cumulatively reducing a major source of household income for the poor, over the past year.  While acute food insecurity remains Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for most poor households across the country (outside the Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone) an earlier-than-usual start to the lean season is likely for poor households in other zones such as the Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zone in Southern Province, where Season B cassava production in July was well-below normal.

    The combination of poor season B harvests, rising fuel prices that are over 12 percent higher in August as compared to June, and a depreciation in the local currency against the United States Dollar (USD) has pushed up other food and non-food prices, including transport costs.  Household purchasing capacities for poor households in the Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone are highly constrained because most households sold a large proportion of their produce, soon after harvest, in July, at lowered prices, when markets were already well-supplied with food commodities. Poor households have increased dependence on market purchases for maize and beans, atypically early, resulting in increased sale of small livestock, mostly goats, to finance food purchases.  Poor households are also working longer hours than usual in agricultural jobs, while some members from poor households have migrated to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to seek alternative labor opportunities, in order to bridge emerging income deficits while broadening their capacities to purchase key staples.  Nevertheless, food insecurity for poor households, is anticipated to increase further due to additional outlays for school fees and other expenses, at the beginning of the school year in early September.

    Overall market prices for food and non-food commodities are rising, remaining higher than last year and respective averages.  Bean prices are 15 to 20 percent higher in August as compared to July and are also 53 percent higher than two years ago, at a comparable period, in Nyakarambi market in Eastern Province.  Similarly, cassava prices are 10 to 15 percent higher in August as compared to July, and 55-60 percent higher than the five-year August average in Bugesera markets, underlining the pressure on purchasing capacities of poor deficit households. 

    The number of refugees from Burundi, entering Rwanda in Kirehe, Bugesera, Kigali, Nyanza, Nyagatare and Huye districts, has significantly declined.  An estimated 5,000 refugees entered Rwanda, in just two days, during the peak of the political crisis, in late April, compared to just 183 people on August 26, 2015.  While the inflow has reduced, about 75,500 refugees remain in Rwanda and several thousand are hosted by poor households, limiting access to food and income sources for households that have already consumed food stocks. 

    Most poor households in the southern part of the Bugesera Livelihood Zone are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through early December, at the beginning of Season A harvest. The Season A harvest is expected to begin in early December, suggesting that household food insecurity is also likely to deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in October, for poor households in southern areas of the Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Zone, due to below average cassava harvest amidst rising food and non-food prices, and constrained labor opportunities.  Deteriorating exchange rates, the rise in fuel prices, and transport costs are also likely to precipitate an accentuation in household food insecurity for poor households in urban settlements, due to overwhelming dependence on markets, as food prices begin to rise atypically early and more sharply.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar of typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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