Skip to main content

Start of Season A harvest stabilizes rural food security

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • December 2021
Start of Season A harvest stabilizes rural food security

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Food access in rural areas has stabilized with the slow start of Season A harvests across the country, supplemented with availability of inter-season crops like cassava and bananas. Food prices have started declining, slightly enhancing access through purchases and driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, the harvest in Eastern Province is expected to be below average, while prices are above average, reducing food access in the area.

    • Strict COVID-19 control measures remain suspended following a sustained declines in daily COVID-19 cases and the on-going vaccination campaign that has fully covered 30 percent of the population. Businesses are gradually re-opening, resulting in improved income-earning opportunities while rural to urban and cross-border trade have increased food supplies, stabilizing food security for urban households. Though business activities are yet to fully recover, increasing household purchasing power and declining food prices are maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas. FEWS NET will continue to monitor the emergence of the omicron variant in Rwanda as increased cases could potentially lead to increased lockdown measures.

    • UNCHR estimated 126,000 protracted refugees and asylum seekers in Rwanda though, facing funding shortfalls, agencies including WFP and UNHCR have had to cut food rations and prioritize assistance to only those who based on based on protection risks and social-demographic criteria considered highly and moderately vulnerable. Even with prioritization, food consumption gap remains as the highly vulnerable have been receiving about 80 percent of the food assistance instead of 100 percent and the moderately vulnerable receive about 40 percent instead of 50 percent. With funding gaps, ration reductions will persist through next year and this, together with lost income earning opportunities due to COVID-19 impacts, are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity among refugees in Rwanda.


    With the gradual start of the main Season A harvest, many rural households are increasingly accessing own produced food, particularly vegetables, Irish potatoes, and green beans. In addition, food prices, particularly of the fast-maturing vegetables, have significantly decreased in both rural and urban areas increasing access among households relying on purchases. However, prices for other food items such as maize and beans remain high but are expected to gradually decline towards the peak of the harvest period in January and February. The season A harvest is generally expected to be average due to sufficient rainfall in rural areas. However, below-average October-December rainfall in the Eastern Province and farmers are estimating up to a 60 percent reduction in the harvest compared to normal according to key informants. Food prices in this province are and will remain high due to crop failure. Unlike in past Seasons A, bean production this year is expected to be significantly below average in the province with current prices are already elevated at 600 RWF/Kg in comparison to the usual 400 RWF/kg, limiting access. Reduced food availability and access in this province is expected to drive a higher portion of households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. Overall, however, availability of own produced food from the current season harvests as well as inter-season foods such as bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes, and declining food prices are driving area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.

    Daily COVID-19 cases in December 2021 remain less than 100 in comparison to a high of over 2,000 cases per day at the peak of third wave of infection in July 2021. Considering the favorable trends, the government has sustained fewer and less stringent control measures since October 2021. As a result, businesses continue to reopen while business operating capacity and working hours have expanded, creating employment opportunities, and increasing income earnings for urban households. Rural farmers are also benefiting with increased demand for food in the urban areas which provides supplemental income. In the Western Province, cross-border trading opportunities are increasing, further improving income earning and purchasing power in the province, especially among small-scale traders. However, the economic and food security situation is far from the pre-COVID-19 levels due to cumulative effects of restrictions as well as the control measures that remain in place. Of concern though, are the risks posed by the new omicron variant, leading to the reinstatement of new measures requiring all arriving passengers to provide negative COVID-19 test results while passengers from southern African countries are required to quarantine for seven days in a hotel at their own cost. This is likely to affect cross-border trade as well as the tourism industry that was slowly recovering. Overall, enhanced food supplies from rural areas, eased control measures, and increased economic activities have improved income-earning opportunities and household purchasing power, particularly for urban poor households, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) area-level outcomes in urban areas.

    According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the November 2021 national consumer price index (CPI) decreased by 0.9 and 3.4 percent compared to October 2021 and November 2020 respectively. The price of 'food and non-alcoholic beverages' in November decreased by 2.7 and 3.7 percent in urban and rural areas respectively, compared to October 2021. The monthly food and beverage price decreases was mainly driven by 10.2 and 8.5 percent decline of vegetables’ prices in urban and rural areas respectively. Increased supply of vegetables after Season A harvests explain the decrease in prices. The overall decrease in food prices is due to the progressive start of Season A harvest in different regions.

    According to UNHCR, Rwanda hosted an estimated 126,788 refugees and asylum seekers as of 30th November 2021, with the majority being from DRC (60.7 percent) and Burundi (39.1 percent). In addition, the country is reported to have received about 176 vulnerable asylum seekers from Libya on 10 December 2021 who are currently settled in Gashora-based Emergency Transit Centre. These were originally from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South of Sudan. Generally, refugees lack access to means of livelihood and income making them rely on humanitarian assistance, particularly from UNHCR and WFP, to meet basic needs like food, water, shelter, fuel, medical care, and education. The assistance provided is in form of cash to the five camps occupied by Congolese refugees while those in Mahama camp receive a mix of cash-based transfers and in-kind food assistance. However, in 2021, WFP experienced funding shortfalls leading to a 60 percent reduction of cash for food ration among refugees. To cope with the reduction, WFP and UNHCR started an initiative to prioritize assistance based on protection risks and social-demographic criteria in May 2021. Those considered highly vulnerable receive about 80 percent food assistance, moderately vulnerable receive 40 percent assistance while non-vulnerable don’t receive food assistance. This leave refugees with food consumption gaps and unmet basic needs. Given the limitations to access livelihoods, constrained income-earning opportunities worsened by COVID-19, reduced food assistance from humanitarian agencies, and weakened social support. Refugee households experience food insecurity and will likely continue experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top