Rwanda

Rwanda Key Message Update: Localized floods and high food and fertilizer costs place pressure on some households, March 2022

Attachments

Key Messages

  • Adequate food and income from the Season A harvest, agricultural labor income from season B crop cultivation, and favorable livestock and poultry production conditions are currently sustaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural Rwanda. However, some households in the Eastern and Northern provinces are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2), primarily due to the impact of irregular rainfall on crop production as well as atypically high food prices. For example, in Northern Province, recent above-average rainfall caused localized floods and atypical post-harvest losses, leading to reduced income from bean sales. The worst affected area is Burera district, where 1,400 flood-affected people are receiving food and non-food assistance from the Rwandan government.

  • While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will likely continue through September in rural areas, the population that is Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected to increase. First, excessive rainfall delayed season B planting in some areas, which is likely to affect area planted. Second, subsistence and cash crop farmers have reduced access to fertilizer and thus face lower crop yields because of high fertilizer prices, a trend that began in 2021 and has worsened due to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global supply. According to the FAO, up to 46 percent of Rwandan farmers use fertilizers. While government subsidies are expected to mitigate the impact of price hikes, subsidized prices already rose by 19-27 percent between July 2021 and January 2022.

  • Food price monitoring shows a lag in market responsiveness to the re-opening of Rwanda’s land borders, which is expected to lead to increased market supply and lower prices eventually. However, food prices remain elevated in some rural locations and in urban areas, likely due to price collusion as traders seek to deplete their stocks from earlier contracts; price speculation influenced by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on some imported commodity prices; and the costs of divergent cross-border COVID-19 testing protocols that constrain small-scale traders. In Northern Province, key informants report a 15-30 percent increase in items such as sugar, maize flour, rice, and soap since January. In urban areas, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) reports the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ rose by 3.7 and 7.9 percent compared to January 2022 and February 2021, respectively.

  • While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are also likely in urban areas, a subset of households are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to atypically high unemployment levels and high food prices. Economic activity continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by the agricultural and service sectors. The latest NISR Labor Force Survey showed that the employment rate rose by 13 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, the unemployment rate of 23.8 percent remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, and high food prices further constrain household purchasing power. As a result, very poor households likely face difficulty earning enough income to cover all essential food and non-food needs.

  • Approximately 127,269 refugees and asylum seekers continue to face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes due to limited access to food and income sources and reduced food assistance levels. According to WFP’s February report, 114,153 people received assistance in February with those considered highly vulnerable (85.81 percent) receiving a ration equivalent to 92 percent of 2,100 kilocalories (kcals) and those considered moderately vulnerable (7.11 percent) receiving a ration equivalent to 46 percent of 2,100 kcals. Due to a funding gap of USD 7.5 million for general food assistance, rations are unlikely to be restored to full levels between March and August. Without food aid, this population would likely face worse acute food insecurity outcomes indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).