Lifting stringent COVID-19 restrictions enhances food security of urban poor households
Following a substantial decline in daily COVID-19 infections and deaths, the government lifted some of the stringent control measures in August including the lockdown in Kigali and eight other districts as well as the ban on inter-district movement. The continuous easing of restrictions will gradually contribute to the re-opening of businesses and increased income earning opportunities, improving food security for urban households. Though substantial restrictions such as limited business hours and operating capacity and a national nighttime curfew remain in place, increased household purchasing power from improved income access as economic activities resume paired with low food prices is maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas.
The availability of above-average household food stocks from 2021 Season B harvests, attributable to restricted movement that constrained marketing of agricultural products in June and July, has stabilized food access in rural areas.
In addition, enhanced rural and urban market accessibility in August following the suspension of COVID-19-related lockdowns and movement restrictions has contributed to lower and stable food prices across the country, increasing food access through market purchases. The on-going land preparation for Season A planting has increased agricultural labor opportunities, increasing income among poor households in rural areas. Stable household food availability and access as well as enhanced income access from crop sales and agricultural labor are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.
WFP received EUR 500,000 in August from the European Union to support the food and nutrition needs of about 46,000 refugees in Mahama camp. While this contribution and support from other donors received in 2021 has played a critical role in addressing food and nutrition needs of refugees, significant food assistance needs have remained since March 2021 when WFP cut refugee food assistance by 60 percent due to funding shortfalls. Ration reductions, declining income earning opportunities from the closure of small-scale businesses, and loss of casual labor opportunities due to COVID-19 restrictions are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity for the UNHCR estimated 128,000 refugees in Rwanda.