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Karamoja continues to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2)

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • January 2014
Karamoja continues to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2)

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Projected Outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal regions, near average second season harvests which started in November are coming to a close, and, combined with otherwise favorable and normal seasonal conditions and labor availability, are contributing to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), which is expected to continue through June.
    • In unimodal Karamoja, poor households are still Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the combined impact of below-average harvests, coupled with lower seasonal incomes, elevated prevalence of acute malnutrition, and increasing staple food prices. The lean season is already beginning two months early in some districts, particularly Napak and Moroto. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected during the peak of the lean season in May/June.
    • Following instability and conflict, over 60,000 refugees from South Sudan have entered northeastern Uganda since December. Humanitarian agencies are currently providing emergency food assistance though increasing demand with new arrivals may strain available resources soon.

    Current Situation

    Bimodal Areas

    • In bimodal areas, ongoing harvests of millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, beans, and maize from an average second season production in bimodal areas are restoring household food stocks and replenishing market supplies. The onset of dry conditions in December have favored harvesting activities, which began in November and are near completion in most bimodal areas, except around the Lake Victoria Basin where some areas continue to receive intermittent, localized, light to moderate rain. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is currently observed across these areas.
    • Water and pasture resources in the cattle corridor districts are declining seasonally as the dry season intensifies. Some minor atypical dryness since early January has reduced the availability of grazing vegetation in the districts of Lwengo, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi, Lyantonde, Rakai, and other areas of the central and southern parts of the cattle corridor. Decreasing pasture and water levels have prompted some local farmers to illegally move their animals into Lake Mburo National Park where they are grazing alongside wildlife, a frequent strategy employed during drier periods.
    • Continued instability in South Sudan is resulting in an influx of refugees into Uganda. Since mid-December 2013 when conflict began in South Sudan, over 60,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered Uganda, with up to 1,000 people entering per day reported by some humanitarian agencies. The Government of Uganda and a number of partners are providing essential food, medicines, non–food items, and shelter new arrivals. Refugees are entering primarily through Nimule/Egule and other border points.
    • The conflict in South Sudan has impacted normal exports of staple commodities from Uganda, including maize, sorghum, beans, cassava, and vegetables. Agricultural commodities typically account for up to 70 percent of exports to South Sudan. Decreased cross-border trade is affecting some typical trade-based income among farmers and traders, although prices for these commodities on Ugandan markets are stabilizing, and in some markets, field reports indicate an increase in local demand for beans, maize, and rice in Lira, Gulu, and the West Nile region.
    • Staple food prices generally increased atypically in December, by as much as 10 percent in some markets. From November to December, retail prices for banana increased by five and eight percent in Mbarara and Kampala, respectively, following a seasonal decrease in supply. Sorghum retail prices increased by 22, seven, and 13 percent in Lira, Soroti, and Gulu, respectively, attributed to below-average production in sorghum-producing areas including Karamoja as well as cross-border exports to Kenya. Millet retail prices in Lira and Soroti remained stable and similar to December 2012 prices. Maize retail prices decreased by three and seven percent in Masindi and Kampala, respectively, due to increasing supplies from the second season harvests on the market. Retail prices for beans increased marginally by one percent in Lira and Kampala, and sixpercent in Mbarara, but they decreased by 14 percent in Gulu.

    Unimodal Zones in Karamoja Region

    • Rangeland and pasture conditions in the region are average to above average as the dry season gets underway with the central and southern districts benefitting from the best availability of pasture and browse. Drier conditions will continue seasonably through March and the onset of the rainy season. Increasingly dry conditions have increased risk for seasonal burning activities, which have destroyed some homes in Napak District. Livestock body conditions currently range from average to above average.
    • Poor households continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in Karamoja. A declining proportion of households are able to consume food stocks following below average harvests from October to December. In order to meet food requirements, households are currently adopting a number of strategies, including: market purchase, community solidarity systems such as food loans and sharing, and begging. The supplementary consumption of wild foods including vegetables, shrubs, nuts, fruits, and game is ongoing at normal levels and constitutes up to five percent of the diet in a typical year. Food access constraints have triggered an early start to the lean season for the second consecutive year.

    Projected Outlook through June 2014

    Increased market dependence beginning two to three months earlier than normal in January will continue to place pressure on household resources among the poor and very poor. With the depletion of household stocks, poor households will become increasingly unable to meet both food and non-food needs, particularly given lower than average incomes earned from labor during the October to December harvest, decreased or absent income from crop sales, and stagnating incomes from other seasonal activities, including sales of charcoal, grass, and wood poles due to saturated markets. Households will increasingly supplement their food needs with the consumption of wild foods, which will likely increase along with availability as the rainy season gets underway in beginning in March. As early as February, poor households will begin to earn income through agricultural labor in preparation for the upcoming lean season. However, incomes earned will not likely be sufficient to meet all household needs through market purchase. As the lean season advances and staple food prices increase, households are likely to intensify coping strategies to access food needs on the market. These coping strategies are likely to include selling livestock and consuming food from community support and humanitarian assistance. During the peak of the lean season in May/June, food security outcomes will be most acute with seasonal increases in malnutrition and increased food access constraints among a population that has faced long-term food insecurity. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected across the region by June.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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