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Eastern Karamoja moves into Crisis (IPC Phase 3)

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • June 2014
Eastern Karamoja moves into Crisis (IPC Phase 3)

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Even while intensifying income-earning efforts such as sheep and goat sales, firewood sales, and seeking casual labor opportunities, many poor households in Karamoja currently have inadequate income to purchase food. Some areas moved into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and are likely to remain that way through September.
    • Rainfall in May and June brought the March to June total rainfall to above-average in most of Karamoja, except for Moroto and Kaabong. Pasture and water availability has improved, but less than 30 percent of farmers replanted though crop losses and wilting during earlier dry spells were high. A delayed and well below average harvest is expected in October, if normal to below normal rainfall continues.
    • Near-average harvests in the bimodal areas are ongoing through August. These harvests are increasing market availability and replenishing household stocks. Modest seasonal price declines are expected through September, maintaining acute food insecurity at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) .

    Current Situation
    • Atypically heavy rain in May and June brought seasonal totals to slightly above average in Nakapiripirit, Napak, Kotido, and Abim. While June is typically the short dry period, above normal rainfall has been received and is compensating for earlier deficits. Eastern Moroto and southern Kaabong have not received adequate rainfall since the start of the season.
    • Increased rainfall prompted some farmers to replant their fields in June, even with normal to below normal rainfall forecast for June to August. About 30 percent of farmers purchased seedlings and started planting again in their fields. Crops may reach maturity, depending on continued rainfall, but replanting in June is atypical for areas other than the Western Mixed Crop Farming livelihood zone.
    • In southern and western Karamoja, crops are developing slower than normal. The rains during May and June have revived some crops. Sorghum, sunflower, maize, millet, and cassava are currently at least knee high. Kaabong, eastern Kotido, and eastern Moroto Districts have some germinating crops that were planted in May/June. The newly planted crops are mainly sorghum, but millet, maize, cassava, cowpeas, and sunflower were planted as well. Overall, the area planted is significantly below average, estimated at about 20 to 30 percent of normal.
    • Pasture in unimodal Karamoja is in average to above-average condition. The May/June rains have revived forage. Pasture and water availability are sufficient for normal milk production, and livestock body conditions are again above-average. These conditions are favorable for goat and sheep births and the survival of their young.
    • Incomes in Karamoja are low. Income from casual labor like weeding has been significantly reduced due to the lack of rain in April/May and the reduced area planted. Even with replanting, labor demand will likely remain below normal. Income from firewood sales has been slightly reduced in Moroto, Kaabong, Nakapiripirit, and Napak as the market is oversupplied and demand is only normal. Wild foods like leafy vegetables, normally constituting less than five percent of the diet, are not adequately available to make up for market purchases.
    • Some households in Karamoja have started to cut back on their food consumption. Households have increased firewood, goat, and sheep sales. They are also seeking additional labor opportunities to increase household income to access food.  Due to the reduction of income earned from their usual strategies, most poor households are unable to maintain their typical lean season diet of one meal a day. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some entire households, but mostly adults, have significantly reduced food intake or are not eating on some days. This is likely happening throughout Kaabong and Moroto Districts and parts of eastern Kotido.  
    • Terms of trade (ToT) declined from April to May. Goat or sheep to sorghum ToT have declined by 14 to 39 percent from April to May, most notably in Kotido. Firewood to sorghum ToT declined by 22 to 27 percent from April to May in major markets in Karamoja. Wage rates are depressed due to the increased supply and lower demand. Wage rates have declined by 13 to 27 percent from April to May. From April to May, sorghum prices were stable in Napak and Nakapiripirit but increased by 29 and 15 percent in Kotido and Kaabong, respectively, due to the higher than usual level of market purchases by households.
    • Western Karamoja remains Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. Moroto and Kaabong Districts and parts of Napak and Kotido Districts moved into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in June. This year, households started the lean season in February/March and will likely continue through September, an additional three months more than usual. The majority of food is accessed through the market during the lean season, and food purchases now account for over 70 percent of the households’ expenses. Households are not able to invest in protecting their livelihoods. The combination of declining ToT, reduced income from casual labor, low wild food availability, and no green harvest has caused some households to transition to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Half rations are available to the extremely vulnerable households, but the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Karamoja is now over 250,000 people.
    • In bimodal areas, ongoing first season harvests are improving food availability. Household stocks are being replenished, and market supplies are increasing the food availabile and accessible to households. Average harvests of beans, maize, sorghum, cassava are expected for most areas. The extreme southwestern districts where below average March to June rainfall was received are likely to have slightly below average harvests. Additional income-earning opportunities in these areas will enable food access for affected households. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in developing FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2014 as updated in May 2014.

    Projected Outlook Through September 2014

    Well below average harvests in Karamoja are expected due both to the normal to below-normal rainfall forecast through August and due to the total area planted being only 20 to 30 percent of normal. No green harvests will be available to end the lean season as usual in July. Crops that survived the dry spell in April/May will likely yield a below average harvest in September/October for the Central Sorghum and Cattle livelihood zone. A well below average harvest in November/December is anticipated in Kaabong, eastern Kotido, and eastern Moroto Districts for the crops that were replanted in May/June. The Western Mixed Crop Farming livelihood zone, which received near normal rainfall, will have green harvests and slightly below-average harvests. These green harvest will smooth household consumption as the lean season comes to an end for most households in this area in July. At least 20 percent of the households will maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions, as their production was limited and household income is likely to remain constrained.

    Households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Kaabong and Moroto Districts and parts of Napak and Kotido Districts through September. Green harvests, which are typically available in July, will not be available to end the lean season. Incomes from casual labor, sales of natural resource products, and migratory labor to nearby towns are projected to be below average because more households will pursue these income-earning strategies with a slightly higher intensity than usual as a form of coping, causing prices and wages to drop further. Income from livestock sales will likely be reduced due to already lower than usual prices that may fall further. At least a third of households will likely sell animals, adding more supply to the market than usual, without a change in demand. Further deterioration of the livestock, wages, firewood, or charcoal to sorghum ToT is likely from July to September. With no additional food access from green harvests and reduced incomes, most areas in Kaabong and Moroto have been reclassified to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from June to September. The Western Mixed Crop Farming and Southern Cattle Maize livelihood zones will remain at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of current planned and funded humanitarian assistance.

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity is likely to continue in bimodal areas due to likely average harvests and seasonally stable prices. Further moderate price declines are expected, but higher than usual local and regional demand is expected from the areas that were affected by below-average rainfall. Most areas are expected to remain  Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through September. This outlook could change significantly if large-scale procurement of maize for humanitarian purposes were to occur. Also, traders attempting to gather stocks in anticipation of these purchases could drive up prices.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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