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Stressed (IPC 2) outcomes likely to emerge at the start of the main lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • October 2022
Stressed (IPC 2) outcomes likely to emerge at the start of the main lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Below-average Season A rainfall and persistently high agricultural input prices are driving below-average crop production prospects. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are now expected in parts of Western Province (Ngororero, Nyabihu, and Rutsiro districts) and Southern Province (Ruhango district) during the main lean season, which overlaps with the October 2022-January 2023 period. Household food stocks and income will be atypically low, linked to reduced agricultural labor demand. Given concurrent high food prices, households will likely be unable to purchase their essential food needs without foregoing other essential non-food needs. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected in other rural areas, however, where households have sufficient access to interseason crops, livestock and milk sales, and income from weeding labor.

    • Although a below-average is expected, the availability of the Season A harvest – which starts in December – is expected to provide several months of food stocks for rural households, a seasonal increase in income from crop sales, and a decline in local food prices. Improvement to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected from January until the next harvest in June.

    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely to be sustained among the urban population in Kigali City, based on the availability of income from trade, labor, and sales of goods/services. However, high food prices, low-income levels, and high unemployment will continue to constrain household purchasing power among urban poor households, resulting in an atypical increase in the number of people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • The population of refugees and asylees in Rwanda more than 127,000 people are likely to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase2!), with monthly food assistance likely preventing deterioration to worse food insecurity outcomes. While many refugees and asylees earn some limited income from employment, informal petty trade, and labor, the majority (> 85 percent) still rely on humanitarian food assistance to meet their daily kilocalorie needs.



    • Persistently high prices for staple foods, gasoline, and imported food and non-food items – driven by domestic, regional, and global factors – continue to reduce purchasing power.
    • Border-crossing restrictions continue to reduce household income from trade and migratory labor near the border, especially in Western Province. Tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the border have declined, but strict controls remain. Similarly, cross-border trade with Uganda and Burundi has resumed, but border-crossing restrictions remain in place.
    • Food and non-food prices are expected to remain elevated, likely peaking during the primary lean season from November to December. The Russia-Ukraine war, tight domestic and regional crop supplies, increased transportation costs, and constrained trade with the DRC are key driving factors.
    • Cross-border restrictions at the DRC, Uganda, and Burundi borders will likely continue to constrain cross-border trade and movements for border communities, affecting poor households’ income.

    Rural areas

    • Due to consecutive below-average harvests, households are purchasing more of their food from the market than they normally do, yet food prices are high. Key informants report 33 to 100 percent increases in prices of maize, beans, and Irish potatoes compared to the harvest period (June to July 2022).
    • The rural Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food and non-alcoholic beverages in September rose by 44.8 and 5.8 percent compared to last year and August 2022, respectively.  
    • A dry spell in the first two weeks of October has increased the likelihood of a reduced Season A harvest (mainly comprising maize and beans) in December/January. The unfavorable rain condition is wilting beans in parts of the Southern Province.
    • Most rural households are expected to deplete their food stocks faster than usual, especially stocks of Irish potatoes and beans. According to the 2022 Season B crop survey conducted by NISR, there was a 16 percent and 8 percent decrease in potatoes and beans, respectively, compared to the same season in 2021.
    • High staple food prices are likely to persist in rural areas, household purchasing power will remain constrained. The main source of income for poor and very poor households will be Season A weeding and agricultural labor.
    • According to weather forecasts, October to November rainfall will likely be below average. Reduced rainfall, high farm input prices, and low utilization of quality inputs will likely result in a below-average Season A harvest.

    Kigali City

    • According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, the urban unemployment rate increased to 21.9 percent in May 2022 compared to 17.8 percent in February 2022 (Q1) and 21.2 percent in May 2021 (Q2).
    • The urban CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages in September 2022 has sustained an upward trend starting in January 2022, rising by 33.2 and 4.8 percent compared to September last year and August 2022, respectively.
    • Food prices in urban areas are likely to increase due to reduced supply from rural areas during the main lean season, high costs of imported food items, and expected reduced Season A harvest. However, the start of the Season A harvest in late December is expected to boost market supply and gradually lower prices.
    • The unemployment rate will likely continue to be high and to increase throughout 2022 and early 2023, as projected by the Rwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

    Refugee and asylee population

    • Based on WFP's monthly briefs, around 85 percent of the refugee and asylee population received food assistance covering 45-90 percent of their monthly food needs. According to WFP monitoring in August, the food basket price increased by 75 percent annually and 4 percent monthly, lowering the purchasing power of refugees. 
    • With an estimated budget shortfall of 6.6 million USD, WFP will most likely continue to distribute partial rations to highly and moderately vulnerable refugees and asylees through early 2023. The value of cash transfers will likely decrease due to increasing food prices, compromising the quantity and quality of food purchased.


    Households face reduced availability of food stocks and increased reliance on food purchases. Although the Season B harvest was generally average for other staple crops, the season’s crop survey showed a decline in Irish potatoes and beans, due to below average rainfall and below average food stocks. Moreover, many farmers atypically increased crop sales to cover the high cost of farm inputs for subsequent Season A cultivation. Even so, many farmers will likely reduce the amount of planted acreage and see a reduction in overall Season A 2023 crop yields. At the same time, high prices for food and non-food items have contributed to the early depletion of remaining food stocks. The rural CPI (Figure 1) showing higher increment impacts prices of beans, maize, and Irish potatoes that increased by 66 percent, 33 percent, and 100 percent, respectively, compared to July.

    While households have intensified their labor activities to earn income, they are likely unable to fully cover their food needs without forgoing other essential expenses. This trend is expected to continue throughout the October-December lean season, leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in some districts in Western Province (Ngororero, Nyabihu, and Rutsiro) and Southern Province (Ruhango). However, the rest of the rural population is expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. The availability of interseason crops, income from labor sales, and some government food assistance are key factors mitigating more severe deterioration in food insecurity. The resumption of cross-border trade with Uganda and Burundi, following the re-opening of the borders in March, is also offering income-earning opportunities to border communities and a supply of goods to the market. However, due to the outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, prevention measures are still somewhat likely to disrupt trade and migratory labor. 

    In rural areas, the Season A harvest from late December to February 2023 is expected to replenish household food stocks, provide households with income from crop sales, and lead to relatively lower food prices. These factors will decrease the number of households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions, sustaining overall Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas. However, the likelihood of below-average October to November 2022 rainfall, dominated by a two-week dry spell in early October, will likely reduce the overall Season A harvest. This will likely cause an early depletion of produced food stocks, increasing the number of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) rural households in the April to May 2023 minor lean season.

    In Kigali, household income levels are higher than in the past two years, sustained by an economic recovery that has generated employment and business opportunities and continues to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, the Q2 Labor survey recorded an urban unemployment rate of  21.9  percent, reflecting an increase from  Q1  and Q2. The September 2022 urban CPI also recorded a sustained increasing trend in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. As a result, some households face limited food access due to higher food, transport, and non-food prices, weakening their purchasing power. This trend is likely to increase the number of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) urban households.

    According to UNHCR’s September 2022 estimates, Rwanda hosts more than 127,000 protracted refugees and asylees, many of whom lack viable livelihoods and continue to depend almost entirely on humanitarian food assistance. The refugee population is expected to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), with the current food assistance likely preventing worse food insecurity outcomes. FEWS NET expect partial ration provisions to continue to refugees and asylees, based on limits in available funding and recent trends. High unemployment rates, lack of supplemental sources of food, low income, and increased food and non-food prices leave many refugees at risk of food consumption gaps.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

Mid-December to mid-February is harvest A. 
February to March is land preparation.

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Year-on-year percent change in the CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages in urban and rural areas

    Figure 2

    Year-on-year percent change in the CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages in urban and rural areas

    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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