Skip to main content

Early start of Season A rains and favorable forecasts bode well for sustained food security

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • September 2018
Early start of Season A rains and favorable forecasts bode well for sustained food security

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Preface

  • Preface


    FEWS NET Remote Monitoring Updates in September 2018 have an extended outlook beyond the standard projection period. The end of this report includes a discussion of most-likely outcomes through the end of the next lean season for Rwanda. Reporting for this country may follow a non-standard schedule in the coming months. Check back regularly for new analysis, subscribe for report updates, or follow us on social media

    Key Messages
    • Harvesting for a likely above-average Season C (June to October) is ongoing, improving household food and income. In addition, planting for Season A (September to December) is underway after an early start, especially in northern and northwestern areas of the country. At a national level, the December to January harvests are expected to be average to above average, sustaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food security outcomes through January 2019.

    • Food access for poor households remains generally favorable given the recent successive good seasons, which has helped to lower staple food prices compared to last year. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), August 2018 staple food prices in rural areas did not typically rise, but were actually 8.6 and 0.86 percent lower than last year and July 2018, respectively. Staple food prices are expected to remain relatively low through the October to November 2018 lean season, maintaining household purchasing power.

    • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of August 31, Rwanda hosted over 150,000 refugees, with more than half from the DRC. Given the ongoing unrest in North Kivu Province, bordering Rwanda, and political uncertainties, there is the potential for additional influxes from the DRC. Refugees living in camps in Rwanda continue to be reliant on WFP for food assistance, amidst funding shortfalls; and in the absence of that assistance, would likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.




    Landslide-affected areas in Rutsiro and Karongi districts in Western Province 

    • The most-affected households from the March to April 2018 landslides are gradually recovering. The Government of Rwanda, along with other humanitarian organizations, are providing food assistance, which is likely to conclude by end of October, as most households are currently able to meet their minimum food needs through Season A labor opportunities. In addition, households received building materials to repair or construct homes and subsidized agricultural inputs to allow them to plant for Season A on time.
    • The average to above-average harvests expected in December should improve food availability at the household level. In addition, the crop production is likely to be sold in DRC markets, bringing additional income to further support recovery. Agricultural labor opportunities, including on tea plantations, as well as the capacity to sell small ruminants for needed market food purchases are likely to allow households to meet their minimum food needs through January 2019, and then even through the lean season in May 2019, following a likely favorable Season A harvest. However, there is a chance that localized flooding and landslides could affect these disaster-prone areas through both 2018 Season A and 2019 Season B rains, but the local communities and the Government of Rwanda are likely to respond as needed. 


    Projected outcomes through January 2019

    Currently, Season C (June to October) harvesting is ongoing, and atypical rainfall received during August, particularly in western areas, is leading to total overall above-average production prospects, increasing household-level food availability. In marshland areas, vegetable and sweet potato yields are above average, and on hillsides, the late season rainfall has increased the production of perennial crops, such as bananas and cassava. In addition, water availability is favorable, which has led to good pasture and fodder conditions for livestock.

    Season A (September to December) is also off to a positive start as rainfall in September started at least two weeks earlier in northern and northwestern areas of the country, kicking off early planting. Elsewhere in Rwanda, land preparation is complete, and typical staggered planting efforts have begun. Early Season A rainfall is not yet well established in most of Southern Province and in drought-prone areas of Eastern Province, where some initial rainfall has been below average, but the short-term forecast for the next two weeks indicates enhanced rainfall. Overall, cumulative rainfall for Season A is expected to most likely be average, tending towards above average. Countrywide, poor households are engaging in Season A agricultural labor opportunities, and demand for labor is expected to be relatively steady through November, providing needed income for food market purchases through the lean season.

    In addition to good food availability in Rwanda, following several consecutive average to above-average seasons since 2017 Season C, food access remains favorable, even for poor households. Currently, greater purchasing power is facilitated by lower staple food prices. According to NISR, as of the end of August, staple food prices in rural areas, where the majority of poor households live, were 8.6 and 0.8 percent lower compared to a year ago and July 2018, respectively. This decrease is atypical as prices usually begin rising in August, but is reflective of the increased domestic food availability. However, according to key informants, in urban areas, staple food prices for commodities produced locally and imported from neighboring Uganda and Tanzania have begun to seasonally increase in September, particularly for beans, rice, maize flour, and Irish potatoes.

    Even though staple food prices are expected to rise through November 2018, ahead of the likely average to above-average Season A harvest, the increases are expected to be moderated by the previous and upcoming favorable production prospects, unlike what occurred during poor seasons in 2016. During the lean season, poor households are still expected to sell small ruminants in order to buy food, but sales are likely to be lower than normal, as other income-earning opportunities are expected to be available. In addition, the lean season, which usually starts in early October and peaks in November, is expected to be relatively short and mild, similar to what happened during the last lean season, when staple food prices remained relatively stable.

    According to UNHCR, as of August 31, Rwanda hosted more than 150,000 refugees, with approximately 52 percent from the DRC and 47 percent from Burundi. Given the planned December 2018 presidential elections in the DRC and ongoing civil unrest in North Kivu Province, bordering Rwanda, there is the potential for an increase in refugees and asylum seekers through the outlook period. WFP continues to distribute full rations to refugees living in camps, but funding shortfalls remain. As of early September, WFP reported that its stocks will be exhausted in November 2018 without adequate funding. In the absence of assistance, refugees in Rwanda would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Overall, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist through January 2019. However, there is the possibility that some of the most affected poor households from the previous landslides, particularly in areas in Western Province, may continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, as they rebuild their homes and livelihoods. In addition, given Rwanda’s susceptibility to flooding and landslides, there is the possibility that this could occur again during the 2018 Season A rains or 2019 Season B, leading to short-term acute food insecurity in affected areas before there is an effective humanitarian response.

    Projected outcomes through the end of the next lean season (through May 2019)

    Following the likely average to above-average Season A harvest through February 2019, which typically accounts for 53 percent of total annual production, household food and income levels are expected to increase. According to the latest global forecasts, the 2019 Season B rains (February to May) are likely to be average; however, there is some uncertainty in this projection given the current El Niño forecast. Regardless, this is likely to lead to favorable casual agricultural labor opportunities during land preparation, planting, weeding, and initial harvesting, which will take place through the end of May 2019. In addition, the rains are expected to provide sufficient pasture and fodder for livestock.

    The next lean season, beginning in April through May 2019, is likely to be similar to October to November 2018, as relatively good food availability and access is expected to continue for the majority of poor households. The successive good harvests and likely favorable regional trade conditions with neighboring Uganda and Tanzania, which helps to supply Rwanda’s markets, are expected to moderate staple food prices, even when they typically peak during the first half of the year in April, when food reserves are lowest. As a result, at an area level, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely to continue through the end of the next lean season in May 2019. However, there is the possibility that during the peak of the lean season that some of the poorest households, still recovering from the March and April 2018 landslides, could face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In addition, it is expected that refugees living in camps would still be dependent on humanitarian assistance for their food needs, and in its absence, would face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Figures Mid-December to mid-February is harvest A.  February to March is land preparation.  Mid-February to mid-May is the long rainy

    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.

    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