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Below-average production is likely to accentuate food insecurity during the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • February 2017
Below-average production is likely to accentuate food insecurity during the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2017
  • Key Messages
    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected to persist through September 2017, among poor households in most areas of Rwanda, following ongoing harvests. However, below-average Season A rains have decreased maize yields up to 20 percent in the East Congo Nile Highland Subsistence and the Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zones. Reduced household food access is likely to lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in Kirehe, Gatsibo, and Kayonza districts during the April to May lean season, but the Season B harvest in June is expected to improve food security outcomes. 

    • While food prices declined seasonally in most markets across the country, following harvests in December and January, the decline has been moderated by below-average production in eastern parts of the country. Food prices are anticipated to rise atypically early, toward the end of March, exacerbated by highly priced regional imports, limiting poor household access.

    • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of February 9, Rwanda hosted 84,873 refugees, the majority from Burundi. The severity of acute food insecurity of refugees, situated in southern Rwanda and Kigali, is classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3). An expanded humanitarian assistance provision is required to bridge current funding gaps of over 50 percent. While the rate of arrivals has declined significantly over the past couple of months, camp capacities have exceeded basic amenities.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral and the East Congo Nile Livelihood  Zones

    ·    There is an estimated 20 percent decline in output from Season A, following well below-normal seasonal rains.

     

    ·    Reduced household food supply will compromise food access for poor households during the April to May lean season, especially in Kirehe, Gatsibo, and Kayonza districts.

     

    Refugees hosted in Kigali and five other camps in eastern, southern, and western Rwanda

    ·    While a proportion of refugees are able to access labor opportunities in urban centers and around camps, the majority are dependent on humanitarian assistance, amidst severe funding gaps.

    ·    The severity of acute food insecurity is likely to accentuate substantially, if access to food is limited by potential pipeline shortfalls over the next couple of months.


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2017

    Below-average and poorly distributed Season A rains in eastern, and parts of southern Rwanda, have resulted in an estimated 20 percent reduction in production. Vegetation conditions, including pasture, have been negatively affected by the poor rains (see Figure 1). Food access for poor households in the East Congo Nile Highland Subsistence and Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zones, in particular, is likely to significantly and atypically decline early, resulting from a reduction in household food stocks and income, constraining purchasing capacities and limiting essential non-food expenditures soon after the harvest. The severity of acute food insecurity for poor households in the Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zone is anticipated to increase to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April through the May lean season.  However, food insecurity is anticipated to ease to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from June to September, following prospects for near-normal Season B rains. 

    Maize prices declined marginally in Kigali, in January, as compared to December, while bean prices declined by 20 percent in January as compared to a month before, which reflected the primary harvesting period. However, both Kigali maize and bean prices remain 19 and 14 percent higher than during January last year, underlining overall below-normal production. Higher than average staple food prices, coupled with reduced regional supply, are likely to translate to sustained high prices that are expected to constrain food access for poor households through the beginning of the next harvest in June.

    According to UNHCR, as of February 9, there were about 84,873 Burundi refugees, who had been displaced since April 2015, residing in Bugesera, Gatore, Huye, Kigali, Mahama, and Nyanza camps in eastern, southern, and western Rwanda. A small proportion of refugees routinely access labor opportunities in urban centers or in adjacent farms, improving access to food. However, labor income has been limited by ongoing macroeconomic constraints and a below-average Season A in significant parts of the country. Funding shortfalls of up to 54 percent could also result in significant pipeline breaks and food shortages during the first quarter of 2017, exacerbating food gaps. As a result, the refugees are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the scenario period.  

    The prognosis for the more important February to May Season B, suggests a near-average season and recent rainfall has been favorable, which could help mitigate the impacts of a below-average Season A harvests for poor households. Poor households derive up to 60 percent of household income from labor and a good season would expand income from land preparation, planting and weeding, and improve household purchasing capacities. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is only likely to persist from April to May in Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zone, but will then improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), as other areas of the country, with the improvement in food availability from the Season B harvest in June. 

    Figures Figure 1. Vegetation conditions in the Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zone, compared to the long-term mean

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Vegetation conditions in the Eastern Semi-arid Agropastoral zone, compared to the long-term mean

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    SEASONAL CALENDAR IN A TYPICAL YEAR

    Figure 2

    SEASONAL CALENDAR IN A TYPICAL YEAR

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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