In an effort to address the growing concern of food insecurity in Rwanda, the European Union has announced $106 million in aid to support the country.
The funding will be used for a series of projects under the “Kuhangara” initiative, aimed at mitigating the impact of soaring food prices and ensuring sustainable food production.
The need for such assistance is evident, as the 2021 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment report revealed that approximately 20.6 percent of Rwandan households still face food insecurity. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for action to tackle this issue and protect the most vulnerable communities.
The Kuhangara initiative will focus on promoting sustainable food production, inclusive agricultural value chains, and targeted interventions in vulnerable communities. These projects will not only address the immediate challenges of food insecurity but also lay the foundation for long-term solutions that will sustainably improve Rwanda’s food security situation.
The urgency of this aid is further underscored by the significant increase in food prices across the country. According to the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, in September 2023, the cost of “Food and non-alcoholic beverages” increased by 29.6 percent annually and by 9 percent monthly. These escalating prices strain the budgets of Rwandan households, making it difficult for them to access adequate and nutritious food.
It is worth noting that Rwanda is one of the top ten countries most affected by the global rise in food prices, as identified by the World Bank. This situation is influenced by several external factors, including rising energy and fertiliser prices and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war. Additionally, long-standing disruptions to cross-border trade with neighbouring countries such as Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi have exacerbated the problem, limiting Rwanda’s access to essential food supplies.
Furthermore, Rwanda experienced a significant decline in food production in 2022. The World Bank reported a 2 percent decrease in food crop production and a 5 percent decline in the second agricultural season. These factors have intensified the country’s food insecurity crisis, compelling the EU to step in and provide substantial financial support.
The EU’s commitment of $106 million to Rwanda demonstrates its steadfast dedication to combating food insecurity and improving the lives of the most vulnerable populations. This funding will enable the implementation of projects that will bolster sustainable food production, strengthen agricultural value chains, and uplift vulnerable communities.
Rwanda’s poorest households are facing the greatest impact, with more than a third of their annual budget being allocated to food expenditures. According to the World Bank, this inflation trend disproportionately affects low-income families, exacerbating their already challenging circumstances.
In response to previous episodes of high food inflation and economic shocks, 72 percent of Rwandan households have had to reduce their food purchases. Consequently, this has resulted in compromised nutritional intake for vulnerable families in particular.
To address these pressing concerns and boost food production, Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture, Ildephonse Musafiri, has proposed a temporary allocation of idle arable land to farmers. This initiative aims at increasing agricultural output and availability of essential sustenance.