The Season B green bean and Irish potato harvest has maintained food availability in rural areas, stabilizing food prices and mitigating the minor lean season. In the Northern Province, the Irish potato farm gate price declined from 270 RWF/kg in April to 250 RWF/kg in May driven by the new harvest. Overall, the availability of Irish potatoes, green beans, vegetables, and other inter-seasonal crops (sweet potato, cassava, and banana) are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes among rural households. However, heavy rainfall in early May contributed to flooding and landslides that affected 6,500 people and destroyed 300 hectares of crops. Additional flooding poses a risk of impacting the Season B crop harvest in June, particularly for beans.
About 350,000 people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose since vaccinations began on March 3, 2021. The current plan is to vaccinate 60 percent of the population by the end of 2022. COVID-19 control measures eased further in early-May with the business operation curfew shortening by one hour to 9 pm to 4 am. Public transport carrying capacity also increased to 75 percent. The easing of restrictions is expected to continue to improve income earning opportunities and household purchasing power, especially in the urban areas, maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. However, in identified hotspot areas such as Nyanza, Gisagaha, and Huye in the Southern Province, movement restrictions between 7 pm to 4 pm, and 30 percent capacity for businesses operations continue to limit localized income-earning opportunities.
According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ prices in April 2021 decreased monthly by 3.2 percent in rural areas but increased in urban areas by 0.5 percent. Annually, April 2021 prices increased by 0.1 and 1.2 percent in rural and urban areas respectively compared to prices last year. In rural areas, the monthly price decreases were driven by a 5.2 and 2.3 percent decrease in ‘vegetables’ and ‘bread and cereals’ prices, respectively, due to unusually high availability of stocks from Season A and current access to vegetables from Season B. Nationally, the consumer price index decreased by 0.9 percent compared to March 2021, primarily driven by a 2.1 percent decrease in ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ prices.
To mitigate the effects of the 60 percent reduction of assistance for refugees due to funding shortfalls, WFP and UNHCR have rolled out a new targeting mechanism that prioritizes general food assistance to the most vulnerable refugees. Under the new criteria, refugees categorized as ‘highly vulnerable and most in need’ will receive a full ration of food assistance, ‘moderately vulnerable but still in need’ will be eligible for 50 percent rations, while the ‘least vulnerable’ refugees will not be eligible to receive food assistance. While this approach will offer some reprieve to beneficiaries, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes among the estimated 125,700 refugees are likely to continue as opportunities for earning income outside the camps are constrained by COVID-19 restrictions.