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Above-average rainfall across Uganda expected to support favorable first season harvests

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • April 2018
Above-average rainfall across Uganda expected to support favorable first season harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2018
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall has been above average throughout Uganda. Although incidences of flooding and water logging have been reported, so far these events are isolated and have not had widespread negative impacts. Harvests are expected to be average and most areas of the country will maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    • In Karamoja, households will rely on the sale of firewood/charcoal and income from casual labor through July to purchase food, though Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist. Improvement to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is likely in several areas with the average harvests in July/August. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are still expected in Central Sorghum and Livestock livelihood zone.

    • Hundreds of people continue to flee South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) daily to seek refuge in Uganda. The number of arrivals from DRC in March was 21,617, up from 12,338 in February and 13,442 in January. Humanitarians continue to provide assistance to refugees, most of whom are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but would likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of assistance.


    Current Situation

    Rainfall has been above average in March and April (Figure 1). In southern Uganda and Karamoja, heavy rainfall has disrupted some agricultural activities, and incidences of flooding and water logging have been reported in Rubanda, Butaleja, Napak, Kyegegwa and Mbarara. However, these events are isolated and have not had widespread negative impacts. Pasture and water availability are above average in most areas and it is expected that livestock productivity is above normal, based on the decline of milk prices at a faster rate than the average seasonal trend.

    Across Uganda, agricultural labor opportunities are available at normal levels. In bimodal areas, where the season starts earlier than in Karamoja, most crops are between the germination and early vegetative stages, though some farmers are still planting. In Karamoja, planting is ongoing. Rapid field visits conducted by FEWS NET in April confirmed the presence of Fall Armyworm (FAW) on maize crops in several districts including Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, Dokolo, Lira, Gulu, Kiryandondo, Masindi, Hoima, Kasese, Luwero, Wakiso, and Mbarara. However, in the areas assessed, the impact of FAW was minimal and perceived by farmers to be lower than last season, due primarily to the heavy rainfall. There are localized exceptions, such as Luwero and Wakiso districts, where the impact is more significant.

    Staple food prices have been stable in recent months, or have increased seasonally. Prices remain slightly above the five-year average, though lower than last year. In bimodal areas, where agricultural labor is the key source of income among poor households, daily wage rates are between 4,000-8,000 UGX and households are likely working 2 to 3 days a week. At current prices, it is expected most poor households can purchase around 50 kilograms of cereal a month with the income earned from agricultural labor. This would meets roughly 50 percent of the kilocalorie requirements of a household of seven. Households are also consuming stocks from last season, wild foods, and livestock products. With these sources of food, it is expected most poor households are able to meet their basic food needs and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity exists.

    In Karamoja, some poor households are accessing labor, though the sale of firewood/charcoal remains the key source of income. Based on current firewood/charcoal prices and the number of bundles typically sold, it is estimated that households are earning around 15,000-30,000 UGX a month. This income would purchase 15-30 kilograms of cereal per month, meeting about 20 percent of a households’ kilocalorie needs. Household are also earning income from casual labor and consuming wild foods and game meat. Despite this, due to seasonally-low income and seasonally high prices, most poor households are unable to afford all basic food and non-food needs. Key informants in the area indicates most poor households are consuming 1 to 2 meals a day, are relying on borrowing to access food, and are occasionally reducing the quantity of food consumed. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist.

    The influx of refugees from South Sudan and the DRC continues. In March, an average of 208 people per day fled to Uganda from South Sudan, and 683 people from DRC. The influx from DRC via Lake Albert has recently slowed, reportedly due to movement restrictions in Ituri and bad weather on Lake Albert. However, arrivals via other crossings continue, and 21,617 people arrived in March compared to 12,338 in February and 13,442 in January. Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima, where newly arrived refugees from the DRC are currently residing, has reached maximum capacity. Plans are underway to identify the site of a new settlement in Madi Okollo, Arua district. The cholera outbreak among Congolese refugees in Hoima District persists and as of April 17, 2,095 cases, including 44 deaths, have been registered. Refugees in all camps continue to receive humanitarian assistance and are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2!).


    Updated Assumptions

    All of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the period of February to September 2018 remain as previously reported.


    Projected Outlook through September 2018

    In Karamoja, households will continue to rely on the sale of firewood/charcoal and labor opportunities through July to purchase food. However, income is typically low during the lean season and seasonally-high food prices result in some households being unable to afford all their basic food and non-food needs. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected during the lean season, although improvement to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected in several areas with an average harvest expected in July/August, and normal income from agricultural labor. In the Central Sorghum and Livestock livelihood zone, however, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist. In this livelihood zone, even with the harvest, the very poor households will continue to rely both on borrowing and on periodically reducing the quantity of food consumed. Additionally, households are likely to forego some non-food expenditures.

    In bimodal areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected to persist, as previously projected. Above-average rainfall has been largely beneficial for crops, and has slowed the spread of FAW. Although likely additional flooding is expected to cause crop damage in some areas, overall production is still likely to be average. Households are likely to be able to purchase and gather sufficient food to meet their basic food needs through June, after which most will meet basic food needs through the consumption of the first season harvest. Given that there is not information on planned and funded assistance for refugees, it is expected they will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of assistance.

    Figures The map of rainfall over Uganda shows that wide areas of the country received rainfall between 130 and over 200 percent of av

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. CHIRPS-estimated rainfall anomaly, March 1-April 20, 2018, compared to 1981-2017 average

    Source: USGS/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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