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In rural areas, depleted staple food stocks and declining purchasing power amid record-high food prices are increasingly constraining access to food among poor households, placing rising pressure on their ability to meet their basic food needs without foregoing other essential needs. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the rural Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 65 percent in October compared to the same time last year. Several districts in the Western (Ngororero, Nyabihu, and Rutsiro) and Southern (Ruhang) provinces will most likely maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until the next harvest in December. These areas saw reduced harvests earlier this year and households are also earning lower income from cross-border trade due to border crossing restrictions. Elsewhere, the availability of interseason crops (bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes) is sustaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.
The start of the season A harvest in December is expected to replenish food stocks among rural households, driving improvement from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the Southern and Western provinces. However, concern remains that an atypically high subset of households in localized areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Delayed Season A rainfall, coupled with intermittent dry periods, has affected crop development. In addition, high agricultural input prices – despite government subsidies – have led to reduced use. As a result, the Season A harvest in December is expected to be below average. Beans have been most affected by irregular rains, with an expected 10 to 15 percent reduction in the harvest.
Overall, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will likely be sustained among the urban population in Kigali City, as income-earning opportunities are supported by still-favorable levels of economic activity, especially in the industrial, service, and tourism sectors. However, as high food, fuel, and transportation prices continue to constrain purchasing power among urban poor households, the number of people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will likely increase atypically. According to the Q3 2022 Labor Force Survey, the unemployment rate decreased to 17 percent in August 2022 in comparison to 22 and 18 percent in Q2 and Q3 2021, respectively, but current unemployment is still higher than the pre-COVID-19 rate of 13 percent.
Rwanda’s estimated 127,000 refugees and asylees are expected to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) as rising food inflation continues to erode the purchasing value of humanitarian cash transfers. Refugees continue to rely on food assistance and income earned from informal petty trade and labor to prevent food consumption gaps. Based on WFP's monthly food price monitoring report in September 2022, the price of the minimum food basket increased by 8.6 percent compared to the previous month and 80 percent compared to September 2021.
This Key Message Update provides a broad summary of FEWS NET's current and projected analysis of likely acute food insecurity outcomes in this geography. Learn more about our work here.