One million Rwandans face food insecurity as prices rise

Saturday February 11 2023
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Rwandans are likely to face a shortage of farm and livestock produce in the coming months due to drought which is expected to hit key agricultural areas. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

By Ange Iliza

Over half a million households are facing food security due to skyrocketing prices as inflation remains high .

The latest Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis report by the National Institute of Statistics paints a grim picture of food security, indicating that 987,000 households are facing food insecurity, 489,000 are moderately food insecure, and 46,000 are severely food insecure.

The numbers translate to millions of people given a Rwandan household consists of four people on average.

While the Ministry of Agriculture had not responded to our requests for comment by press time, the report indicates that the western and southern provinces of the country bear the brunt of this crisis.

Adding to the woes, Rwanda ranks as the 22nd most hungry countries globally in the Global Hunger Index 2022, coming in fourth in the region after Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

There are fears that the progress made in reducing poverty and ensuring food security in the past decade now hangs in the balance, with market prices remaining high and instability in local agricultural production persisting.


The Covid-19 pandemic, weather-related shocks and increasing prices are cited as the main drivers of the exacerbating food insecurity by the report. Women, children, and women-led households make up over 70 per cent of the primary victims.

The report highlights that over 27 per cent of households have had to cut back on food portions or completely stop buying certain items deemed too expensive, such as eggs, meat and fruits, leading to inadequate food consumption and an unbalanced diet.

This, in turn, poses a risk of an increase in malnutrition numbers.

Food prices continue to soar, with an annual increase of the Consumer Price Index of 31 percent in 2022. Nutritional items like eggs, fruits, and vegetables have increased by at least 20 percent on the local market in the past month alone.

For families like Michel Hakuzimana, residing in Bibare cell in Kimironko, this means cutting out eggs and fruits after prices increased from Rwf3,800 per crate to Rwf4,500.

This, combined with other staple food items like rice and potatoes, has led to the family's food expenses soaring from Rwf60,000 in January 2021 to over Rwf100,000 per month today, despite cutting back on portions.

"We have a two-year-old daughter, we try to restrict items such as eggs, milk, and fruits exclusively just for her because we cannot afford to buy them for all of us," Hakuzimana told Rwanda Today.

While the Rwandan economy is on a rebound, the drastic rise in the cost of living has taken away the shine as many households are struggling to make ends meet because of higher food prices and unemployment that remains high at approximately 18 per cent.

In December last year, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 45.4 per cent on annual basis and 1.3 per cent month on month. The prices of fresh produce increased by 52.1 per cent on an annual change and 1.4 per cent on a monthly basis.