Season B harvest increases food availability and reduces food prices
The ongoing 2021 Season B harvest, particularly of Irish potatoes and beans, has significantly increased availability and access to food in rural areas across Rwanda. The harvest also improved market supplies, contributing to reduced national food prices. The improved marketing of agricultural products in the current harvest season relative to 2020/21 Season A, when COVID-19 movement restrictions hampered market accessibility, has increased income access in rural areas. Improved household food availability and access and enhanced income access from crop sales are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.
The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program, which has been constrained by a shortage of vaccines, received an additional 542,900 vaccines in the first week of June 2021. As the vaccination program progressed and daily cases and fatality rates declined during the first half of June, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) eased restrictions, which resulted in the reopening of businesses, the creation of employment opportunities, and increased income earning opportunities for urban households. However, with an upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the second half of June, the GoR reinstated restrictions. Starting from 23 June 2021, there’s a national curfew from 7:00pm to 4:00am and restricted inter-district movement. Despite this, the increased household purchasing power from improved income access at the start of June, paired with declining food prices is maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas.
According to UNHCR, as of May 31, 2021, Rwanda hosted 123,024 refugees and asylum-seekers, who are primarily from the DRC and Burundi and rely on humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs including food. However, the refugees have been negatively impacted by a 60 percent reduction in assistance from WFP since March 2021 in addition to last month’s change in targeting to prioritize a full ration for those considered to be most vulnerable. The moderately vulnerable receive a half ration while the least vulnerable do not receive food assistance. Ration reduction/loss and declining income earning opportunities such as closure of small-scale businesses and the loss of casual labor due COVID19 mpacts are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity within refugee communities.