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Rwanda Key Message Update: Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely in refugee settlements without additional assistance, March 2021

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On March 3, 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations began across Rwanda, with one million people planned to be vaccinated by April and 60 percent of the population by the end of 2022. COVID-19 control measures were eased in mid-March; however, an 8 pm to 4 am curfew and 30 percent capacity for businesses continue to limit income-earning opportunities, particularly urban poor households engaged in casual labor, petty trade, and small business. The prior inter-district travel restrictions constrained agricultural labor migration for Season B land preparation and planting and agricultural produce sales in rural areas, but this is expected to return to normal following the lifting of the inter-district travel restrictions.

Government food rations to approximately 130,000 of the most vulnerable households in Kigali city and an estimated 500,000 rural households were ended in mid-March following the lifting of the travel restrictions. The rations were effective in mitigating food security outcomes among recipients. The recent relaxation of COVID-19 prevention measures and vaccine rollout is expected to gradually increase income-earning opportunities in urban areas and maintain area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

The average Season A maize harvest has maintained rural household food stocks and contributed to declining prices. Maize prices have decreased from 240-250 RWF/kg before harvest in January to 220 RWF/kg in March. However, below-average supply and increasing demand for beans have driven a price increase from 600 RWF/kg in February to 750 RWF/kg in March. Bean prices are expected to continue increasing as the April-May lean season approaches. Overall, the availability of own-produced food stocks, including maize, beans, tubers, and vegetables, drives Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes among the rural households.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ prices in February 2021 increased annually by 2.1 percent in rural areas but decreased in urban areas by 1.8 percent. In rural areas, the annual price increases were driven by ‘meat,’ and ‘milk cheese and eggs’ prices increasing by 10.6 and 9.1 percent, respectively, due to the COVID-19 control measures limiting market supply. Across Rwanda, the consumer price index increased by 0.5 percent compared to January 2021, primarily driven by a 3.6 percent increase in ‘vegetables’ prices as movement restrictions limited market supply.

Due to an 11 million USD funding shortfall through August, WFP has reduced monthly cash and food rations for refugees in Rwanda by 60 percent. Approximately 138,000 refugees in camps and 12,500 children from the host community who receive school meals are expected to be impacted. Due to limited opportunity for income-earning opportunities outside of the refugee camps, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to develop quickly.