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Improved crop performance and enhanced pasture conditions with steady rains

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • April 2016
Improved crop performance and enhanced pasture conditions with steady rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2016
  • Key Messages
    • The ongoing El Niño continues to influence rainfall across East Africa. In bimodal areas of Uganda, steady rainfall in April has partially compensated for delayed and below-average rainfall in March. These improved conditions have supported typical levels of agricultural activities and related labor opportunities, such as land preparation, planting, and weeding. As a result, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected through September 2016. 

    • In Karamoja, steady rainfall was also received in April. Poor households are gathering wild vegetables and earning income through agricultural labor. Although food prices remain high, the seasonal increase in agricultural labor opportunities is improving poor households’ purchasing capacity. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity persists in Moroto and Kaabong, but improvements are expected with green consumption in July/August.

    Current Situation

    Bimodal areas:

    Steady rainfall of 80-150 percent of normal since mid-April has partially compensated for moisture deficits that resulted from delayed and below-average rainfall in March. Total cumulative rainfall for the season is still forecast to be average. With the start of rainfall, seasonal activities are now underway and providing agricultural labor opportunities to poor households. Pasture conditions and water availability for production are also improving in the cattle corridor districts of Nakasongola, Luwero, and Nakaseke. Vegetation conditions, livestock body conditions, and milk production all remain slightly below or near the long-term average throughout bimodal areas, but are seasonally improving.

    Wholesale prices of bananas, sorghum, and maize have increased seasonally as a result of declining food stocks from the previous harvest and steady demand. The price of dry beans, finger millet, and cassava chips was stable in Lira, Soroti, and Kabale. Between January and March, the volume of staple foods exported to South Sudan, including maize, sorghum, and rice, remained below average compared to both the first quarter of 2015 and pre-conflict levels, due to insecurity in South Sudan and depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is maintained in bimodal areas. Households are consuming food stocks from last season’s production, which are expected to last through mid-May, and supplementing with market purchases to meet their food needs. Poor households are accessing agricultural labor opportunities, providing income for food purchases.

    Unimodal Karamoja:

    Delayed and below-average rainfall in March postponed seasonal activities by 1-2 weeks. However, with the establishment of average rainfall in April, land preparation and planting activities started and are currently ongoing. Pasture conditions and water resources are below-average to average compared to typical April levels, but are improving following April rainfall. As a result, livestock body conditions are slightly below average and milk production is lower than usual. However, livestock productivity will improve in May, increasing household milk consumption.

    The seasonal increase in retail prices of maize, beans, sorghum and cassava flour have constrained poor households’ food access. Many households have been dependent on markets to access food for an atypical amount of time, given the early depletion of stocks in December 2015. Household purchasing power has decreased as food prices seasonally increase. From February to March, sorghum prices increased between 6 and 16 percent while maize increased between 6 and 13 percent.

    Income from agricultural labor and recent vegetable crops are slightly improving food security during the lean season. Although agricultural labor incomes were below-average in March due to poor rainfall, labor opportunities are at average levels in April, providing households with income that is increasing food access.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity persists for some poor households in Moroto, Napak, Kaabong, Nakapiripirit, and Kotido Districts. It is expected that the population currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Moroto and Kaabong is greater than 20 percent. Food security is improving slightly through increased agricultural labor opportunities and the availability of vegetable harvests. Households are further supporting consumption through continued use of coping activities including increased participation in stone quarrying, sand mining, and brewing. However, income remains inadequate for many poor households to meet both their minimum food and non-food needs. Interannual humanitarian assistance through WFP and the Resiliency through Wealth, Agriculture, and Nutrition (RWANU) project under ACDI-VOCA remain ongoing, as well as from the Office of the Prime Minister, which has distributed food commodities in Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions that were used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the period of February to September 2016 remain valid. A full discussion is available in the Uganda Food Security Outlook for February to September 2016. 

    Projected Outlook Through September 2016

    In Karamoja, poor households are expected to earn agricultural incomes through June and have increased access to vegetables and wild foods, which will marginally improve food security. Additionally, given seasonal improvements in livestock body conditions, levels of milk production will improve through June, although poor households will not benefit significantly given small livestock holdings. As food prices have remained high since January, poor households are expected to continue engaging in coping strategies through June to access income to purchase food. A Food Security and Nutrition Assessment conducted by UNICEF and WFP in December recorded a weight-for-height GAM prevalence of 13.9 percent (CI 10.8 to 19.7), 13.2 percent (CI 9.9 to 17.3), and 16.3 (CI 12.0 to 21.8) in Kaabong, Moroto, and Napak respectively, although GAM prevalence is expected to decrease in June with the start of green consumption. Similar, populations in Moroto and Kaabong facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will likely remain so until June before the start of green consumption and seasonal reduction in staple prices, after which they are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The rest of Karamoja will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    In bimodal areas, income from agricultural labor activities and household food stocks are expected to support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through September. Green consumption in June/July will improve household food availability and dry harvests will begin to restock market supplies in August. Vulnerable communities were provided with seed for planting through Operation Wealth Creation Program. Prices of staples are expected to remain seasonally high through May before the harvest increases household and market stocks. Households are expected to be able to invest in typical livelihood activities, including purchasing inputs and providing veterinary care for livestock. Poor households are expected to remain in None (IPC Phase 1) through September.

    The ongoing El Niño pattern continues to influence rainfall patterns across Eastern Africa, although the tropical Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly continues to weaken and is forecast to end in late spring. According to CPC/IRI consensus forecasts, there is a 70 percent chance of a La Niña event occurring between October and December 2016. 


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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