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Insufficient food and income to lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Karamoja by April

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • March 2015
Insufficient food and income to lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Karamoja by April

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal areas, ground surface temperatures from February to March were six to seven degrees centigrade above average, drying out rangelands and leading to poor livestock body conditions. Pre-season and early season rains for the bimodal and unimodal areas were very low during, causing delays in land preparation.

    • In bimodal areas, the start of the first season rains is expected in April, more than ten days later than normal. However, near normal cumulative rainfall is expected to allow for near average crop growth. The season will likely end at a normal time. Pasture regrowth will likely be adequate for livestock to begin to recover their body conditions by mid-April. For most households, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is expected to last through at least June.

    • In Karamoja, below average rainfall has decreased labor demand, lowering incomes for poor households. Food access has been poor due to consecutive below-average harvests and an extended lean season in 2014. This year the lean season started four months earlier than normal, nearly doubling the length in some areas. For most poor households, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely, starting in April.

    Current Situation
    Bimodal areas:
    • Land preparation and planting for the first season was delayed due to high temperatures and low soil moisture content. Throughout March there were several consecutive days of little to no rainfall. Ground surface temperatures since December have been six to seven degrees centigrade above average.
    • Farmers are currently very active with land preparation and planting/sowing. In the last week of March, moderate rains across the country with some heavy localized downpours have nearly compensated the earlier moisture deficits though destructive to property for instance in the eastern districts of Iganga and Mbale. The seasonal rains will likely be steady by mid-April, and near normal rainfall is expected for the remaining season.
    • Livestock have below-average body conditions because of the poor pasture availability mostly in central Uganda cattle corridor in Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Kaliro, Sembabule, and Lyantonde Districts. With the start of rains over the last week of March, rangelands will likely regenerate by mid-April.
    Unimodal Karamoja:
    • Early season dryness disrupting preparations for crop production. Karamoja has been dry due to atypical ground surface temperatures between two and seven degrees Celsius above average and a dry spell instead of pre-season rains in February and March. Currently the region is windy, dusty, and hot, and the ground is too hard to plow with the available tools. The delays for land preparation may reduce casual labor demand because the seasonal outlook is poor.
    • Despite below-average pasture conditions, livestock have only slightly below-average body conditions. In a typical year at this time, the light rains would have encouraged pasture regrowth, allowing livestock to return to graze near homesteads. This typically allows the children to access some milk and also provides oxen for ploughing. However, most water catchments are nearly dry and wide-spread brush burning occurred, perhaps intentionally, depleting pastures. The herds have not yet returned due to the availability of water and pasture.
    • Inadequate food intake will likely result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by April. Household food stores have been depleted and incomes are below-normal, resulting in most households using coping strategies since January. Firewood and charcoal sales are typically used as coping strategies, but the terms of trade with respect to sorghum have declined because many households are pursuing the same strategy and exceeding the available demand. Staple prices for sorghum and maize remain stable. Household purchasing power is low, limiting food access. Most poor households have one meal a day for both adults and children. Below-average rainfall will constrain wild foods and garden grown vegetable availability in April/May. Green consumption may be delayed until after June/July.
    • Livestock sales will likely be the determining factor in household food security. Food security outcomes are likely to deteriorate for households without some livestock to easily sell in order to obtain incomes to purchase food. Poor households with few livestock are likely to make stress sales. The poor households without livestock to sell are particularly vulnerable since seasonal incomes have been below-average due to delays in agricultural labor.
    • Poor households are unable to invest in livelihoods. Some poor households have consumed their seed reserved for planting this season. Other households are unable to purchase essential non-food items like health care, veterinary care for livestock, and seed. Some poor households have liquidated their productive assets, especially livestock. Most households will likely make minimal investments in their normal livelihood activities, including purchasing less seed or not hiring oxen to plough their land. The lack of sufficient planting material will likely lead to negative outcomes for the household’s future food security. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The following assumptions are updated from the original assumptions in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for January to June 2015 which is available in the January to June 2015 Food Security Outlook.

    • In January, it was assumed that rains would begin in March and that land preparation activities and planting for the next cropping season would occur in February and March in the Karamoja Region. The updated forecast shows that the onset of steady rains is expected around early to mid-April and will likely be below-normal.
    • In January it was assumed that incomes from casual labor are expected to peak beginning with the month of February as land preparation and planting activities peak during this time. Due to the extended dryness, pre-season moisture deficits, and general seasonal uncertainty, labor demand is expected to be lower than usual. On-farm labor will likely peak in April. 

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Below-average rainfall will likely increase the severity of the lean season in Karamoja. Poor households have depleted their food stocks, are relying heavily on firewood and charcoal sales, and are sending additional household members to nearby towns for casual labor. Despite the availability of staples on the market and stable food prices, the low household purchasing power will likely constrain food access through June. Dietary intake for both adults and children has declined. Poor households are only able to access one meal a day. However, households that have livestock to sell will likely maintain their food consumption through this season. Malnutrition prevalence will likely worsen through June as poor households enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    Stable Minimal (IPC Phase 1) conditions to prevail in bimodal areas. While staple prices are expected to seasonally increase, most households will continue to meet both their food and nonfood needs through normal livelihood activities and are not expected to engage in any atypical coping strategies. Supplies from last season’s above-average production remain in the country due to the low exports by volume to South Sudan. This will likely continue to moderate price increases, maintaining the normal seasonal trends. Livestock body conditions are expected to recover by the last week of April/May. Most poor households will have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through June 2015.



    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

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    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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