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Ongoing harvests improving food availability, except in landslide-affected western areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • June 2018
Ongoing harvests improving food availability, except in landslide-affected western areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Food availability and access have generally improved, as the Season A harvest at the national level is expected to be slightly above-average. However, the heavy March to May rains caused significant numbers of deaths as well as infrastructure and crop losses, which have impacted livelihoods. In worst-affected districts of Rutsiro and Karongi in Western Province, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through September, until rehabilitation efforts are fully established and Season C harvesting peaks. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will prevail elsewhere in the country through January 2019.

    • According to the National Institute of Statistics (NISR), between April and May, cereal prices increased marginally by 2.3 percent, but non-cereal staples, including beans, rose by 6.7 percent. Key informants report that in June staple food prices are easing with the initial harvests. With the exception of isolated mountain localities where roads were severely damaged, markets are well supplied by domestic production and Ugandan and Tanzanian imports.

    • According to UNHCR, the total number of refugees in Rwanda decreased by approximately 21,000 from January 2018 to the end of May, primarily due to Burundian returnees. However, small numbers still continue to flee to Rwanda. Food assistance to refugees in camps is still 25 percent below daily requirements because of funding shortfalls. Although the Government of Rwanda promotes refugees’ access to livelihoods and plans to include them in national safety nets, the refugees would face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes without humanitarian assistance.

    Rutsiro and Karongi districts in Western Province

    Key informants report that Rutsiro and Karongi districts were the worst-affected by heavy March to April rainfall, which caused severe landslides that destroyed homes, lives, and livelihoods. About 770 people lost their homes and are currently lodged in temporary shelters. The areas’ main livelihood, which consisted of producing and selling beans, potatoes, and bananas to Congolese traders, is severely disrupted. The Government of Rwanda and partners are providing food and non-food relief assistance, but the resources for rehabilitation efforts are not yet mobilized.

    By the end of June, and with the help of Government of Rwanda extension services, the farmers most affected will start to plant vegetables, maize, and beans in marshlands and on hillsides in this moisture-rich part of the country. By September, with harvesting, poor households are likely to be able to resume selling to Congolese traders. In addition, in July, the national social safety net program is expected to expand to cover more households in these areas, allowing the poor to be hired in labor-intensive programs designed to rehabilitate infrastructure, homes, and land terraces. Through these efforts, near-normal pre-disaster conditions are expected to be restored by October ahead of the lean season.


    The heavy rainfall in March and April, particularly in Western Province, caused severe flooding and landslides that led to about 250 deaths. Countrywide, the significantly above-average rainfall, which was more than 145 percent of normal between March and May, and atypically continued into June, appears to have caused more damage to infrastructure, homes, and land value rather than to crops. In addition, the rains disrupted some farming-based sources of livelihoods, but the expectation is that the planned rehabilitation programs should create enough labor opportunities to compensate for the localized losses of farm labor. Although 2018 Season B bean production is expected to be below average, other major crops, such as maize, potatoes, cassava, and bananas benefitted from the rains, and the severest losses of these crops were localized. As a result, the ongoing Season B harvests are likely to be slightly above-average at the national level, increasing food availability and access.

    Given the recent rains, above-average moisture levels are expected to prevail during 2018 Season C (July to October). Season C accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of annual food production, and indications point to above-average harvests in September and October. Following a year of consecutive favorable seasons, the October to December lean season is likely to be relatively mild for most poor households, outside of Rutsiro and Karongi districts, due to carry-over stocks and generally sufficient income-earning opportunities.

    With likely El Niño conditions, September to December rainfall is forecast to be average across Rwanda, which is expected to lead to an average 2019 Season A harvest between December and January, which should maintain agricultural labor opportunities at steady levels through the scenario period. Following both the 2018 Season C and 2019 Season A harvest, food availability and incomes will begin to improve in Western Province. At a national level, the domestic food supply is likely to remain normal, also supported by regional food imports from Uganda and Tanzania due to good harvests in those countries.

    Currently, staple food prices are slightly higher than last year, but food access generally remains normal for the majority of poor households. According to NISR, between April and May, cereal prices increased marginally by 2.3 percent, but non-cereal staples, including beans, rose by 6.7 percent. However, key informants report June staple food prices are seasonally declining with the initial harvests. With the exception of isolated mountain localities that experienced substantial infrastructure damage, markets remain well supplied. Through January 2019, relatively stable prices are expected.

    According to UNHCR, the total number of refugees fell by approximately 21,000 from January 2018 to the end of May, primarily due to Burundian returnees; however, some continue to arrive. The approximately 130,000 refugees living in camps in Rwanda remain the population of greatest concern. They are unable to cover their minimum daily food requirements since WFP cut food rations by 25 percent in January 2018, due to funding shortfalls. As a result, in the absence of assistance, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through January 2019. The Government of Burundi, with the support of partners, remains committed to allowing refugees to have access to livelihood opportunities to offset these funding shortfalls, including outside of the camps, and to gradually integrate them into the national safety net program. However, implementation of this plan is likely to extend beyond the scenario period. Currently, around Mahama Camp in Kirehe District in Eastern Province, flooding was not severe and the flood waters have receded, enabling some refugees to continue working as daily labor for Season C vegetable gardening; these income-earning opportunities are likely to continue.

    Overall, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to persist through September in Rutsiro and Karongi districts as livelihoods continue to be restored. Across all other parts of Rwanda, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to prevail through January 2019, except for the refugees living in camps, which are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the absence of humanitarian assistance.


    Figure 1

    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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