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Season A harvest increases food and income access for rural households

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • December 2020
Season A harvest increases food and income access for rural households

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTCOMES THROUGH MAY 2021
  • Key Messages
    • The ongoing 2020/2021 Season A harvest, which started in late November with Irish potatoes, continues with the green harvest of beans in mid-December. The ongoing harvest is improving rural household food access and income from the sale of crops driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas. Increased market supply of produce, particularly potatoes and beans, has also driven a decline in market food prices.

    • In urban areas, the relaxation of the COVID-19 restriction from late September has driven the gradual re-opening of economic activities. Additionally, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has loaned I&M Bank (Rwanda) 10 million USD to increase lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and help these businesses maintain operations and jobs. However, an 8 pm to 4 am prohibition of movement has been declared from December 22, 2020, to January 4, 2021, in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases. This is likely to limit business hours and slow economic recovery.

    • The voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees under a tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the Rwandan and Burundian governments is unlikely to meet the set target of repatriating 8,000 refugees by the end of 2020. The repatriation exercise has faced numerous challenges, including the overstretched capacity of the transit centers and limited land for settling returnees, while some refugees fear stigmatization and insecurity in Burundi. Over 3,400 Burundian refugees have been repatriated since late August.

    ZONECURRENT ANOMALIESPROJECTED ANOMALIES
    Kigali City
    • Economic activity in the formal and informal sectors remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels, limiting income-earning opportunities and food access among the urban poor.
    • Following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in late September, there has been a gradual increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases through December.  
    • A partial re-introduction of COVID-19 control measures is expected to limit poor urban households' access to food and income and drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.

     


    PROJECTED OUTCOMES THROUGH MAY 2021

    The ongoing 2020/2021 Season A harvest has increased food availability and access across the country. Food prices, especially beans and Irish potatoes, have begun declining. According to key informants, in December, the price per kilo of Kinigi, a popular variety of Irish potato, is 180 RWF at the farm gate and 200-220 RWF/kg at the market, an approximately 15 percent decrease in price compared to October and November. Similarly, bean prices have decreased from 850-900 RWF/kg in October and November to 600-650 RWF/kg in December. However, beans prices are expected to remain higher than the five-year average as the Gatuna border post with Uganda, a traditional supplier that typically bridges deficit gaps, remains closed. Increased availability of vegetables across the country, along with sweet potatoes and bananas from the Southern Province, is also contributing to increased food access and driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    Following the relaxation of most COVID-19 restrictions in September and October, economic activity in urban areas has returned to near-normal levels. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which make up most businesses, were adversely affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. Some businesses have closed while others are facing multiple challenges, including the lack of liquidity. On December 3, 2020, IFC loaned I&M Bank (Rwanda) 10 million USD to increase lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to better cope with the economic effects of COVID-19 and create income-earning opportunities. Overall, increased economic activity in urban areas following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in October and increased access to financial support is improving urban household access to income and food security; however economic activity is still below normal.  

    The daily cases of COVID-19 have increased from an average of 10 new cases per day in October to an average of 65 new cases per day in the first 18 days of December. Prisons and refugee camps have been identified as major COVD-19 hotspots. In response to the spike in daily cases, the government has announced that beginning December 21, a 9 pm to 4 am curfew will be in place, with movements prohibited from 8 pm to 4 am until January 4, 2021. The one hour increase in the curfew is likely to impact economic activity and limit income-earning opportunities for urban poor households. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in urban areas are expected to remain through January 2021.  

    According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the national consumer price index (CPI) in November decreased by 0.8 percent compared to October 2020 and 4.5 percent higher than respective prices last year. In urban and rural areas, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages decreased by 1 and 1.8 percent, respectively, compared to October. The decrease in prices is likely driven by the ongoing Season A harvest and a 12.1 percent decrease in transport costs compared to October.  However, the cost of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels' in November increased by 1 percent across Rwanda compared to October and was 5 percent higher than respective prices in 2019.

    From mid-October through January 2021, the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) re-classify households into different groups under Ubudehe, the government's social protection program. Households are now classified into five categories (A-E), with the poorest households (Category E) receiving full state social protection, including access to the Umurenge program, subsidies for solar electrical systems, community-based health Insurance, fortified blended foods, and Girinka. Implementation of the reformed program will start in February 2021.

    Over 3,400 Burundian refugees have been repatriated since late August following an agreement between UNHCR and the Rwandan and Burundian governments. However, the repatriation rate has been slow due to the limited capacity at transit centers and limited land for settling returnees. Additionally, some refugees fear stigmatization and insecurity upon returning to Burundi.

    Figures

    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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