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Rwanda Key Message Update: The start of the Irish potato harvest expected to improve household food access, November 2020

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Situation Report
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Key Messages

  • Above-average rainfall across most of Rwanda is driving good crop conditions with an expected average 2020/2021 Season A harvest. The start of the Irish potato harvest in the Northern Province and the anticipated start of green harvest consumption in mid-December will increase household food access and gradually lower food prices, driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas. Currently, Irish potato prices are normal, with a farmgate price of 200 RWF/kg and an urban consumer price of 250 RWF/kg.

  • The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in October and early November and the partial opening of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to informal cross-border trade has improved income-earning opportunities in urban areas and along the border with the DRC. The increase in cross border trade with the DRC, the resumption of fishing in Lake Kivu, increased construction labor opportunities, and the reopening of the transport and education sectors has increased income-earning opportunities for rural and urban poor households. National Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected by early 2021.

  • According to UNHCR, by the end of October, over 3,400 Burundian refugees have voluntarily repatriated. Approximately 8,000 Burundian refugees are expected to repatriate by the end of 2020. Around 6,500 refugees have signed up, but others are reluctant due to fears of insecurity in Burundi. Rwanda, Burundi, and UNHCR are providing returnees a package that includes 75 USD per adult, 35 USD per child, and COVID-19 testing. Mahama camp has been identified as a COVID-19 hotspot, which has negatively impacted food and income access from outside the camp. Most urban refugees remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to sustained below-average income and household purchasing power.

  • According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages in October 2020 increased annually by 9.7 and 15.6 percent for urban and rural areas, respectively, driven primarily by the poor 2020 bean harvest and the continued closure of the Gatuna border post with Uganda. Compared with September 2020, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages in October increased by 1.8 and 0.1 percent in rural and urban areas, respectively. Notably, the national cost of transport, which accounts for 8 percent of average household expenses, was 11.2 percent higher than 2019 but decreased by 9.1 percent compared to September 2020 following the easing of transport restrictions.