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Karamoja will likely have a below average August to November harvest

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • May 2014
Karamoja will likely have a below average August to November harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Low rainfall in April/May has delayed crop development in Karamoja. With a well below average green harvest in July, the lean season may be prolonged. Households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) only with the presence of humanitarian assistance and likely to remain that way through October.
    • In Karamoja, livestock to sorghum terms of trade remain favorable, but these only benefiting households with livestock to sell. Other income-earning opportunities, such as casual, agricultural labor are not as available as usual. Households thus have less food access than usual.
    • March through May rainfall was below average in the Southwest and some central regions, likely resulting in local, below-average harvests in June/July. Overall, national production is likely to be closer to average. Most areas will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least September.

    Current Situation
    • Overall, March to May rainfall in unimodal Karamoja has been below average. The rains started on time in March, but in April and May, cumulative rainfall in most areas was  25 to 100 millimeters (mm) below the 2001 to 2012 mean (Figure 3). In general, there was less rain in northeastern and northern Karamoja in Kaabong, Moroto (Figure 4), and Kotido Districts than in southern ones in Amudat, parts of Napak, and Nakapiripirit Districts.
    • In Karamoja, crop development has so far been slower than usual. There are high rates of stunting and wilting caused by moisture stress due to the below average rainfall. Other crops have had their development slowed by moisture stress. Despite the timely onset of the rains, many crops were planted later than normal and then had lower than normal germination rates as rainfall was less reliable in April and May. Area planted  is estimated to be less than half of a normal year.. While crops planted through the end of March are generally still surviving, much of the late planted crops have already wilted or did not germinate. In the southern districts of Karamoja, sorghum was knee high in late May.
    • Below-average pasture availability has slightly reduced cattle milk production. Much of the forage is still dry, and pasture has not fully regenerated since the start of the rains. Neither pasture nor water points have been seasonally replenished, and livestock body conditions are near average.
    • Crop growth has also been slow in bimodal areas. While farmers planted on time in March/early April, a dry April slowed crop growth. In the Southwest, May rainfall was well below normal. Moisture stress slowed crop growth, and many crops have not yet reached the flowering stage. In general, early planted crops are performing better than late planted crops.
    • Stable food prices a are stable, increasing food access. The stability of sorghum prices has enabled poor households to access food from the market. Markets in Karamoja have been stocked with supplies from Acholi and Teso Regions’ near average November 2013 to January 2014 harvests. Ongoing conflict has reduced sorghum exports to South Sudan, in effect increasing domestic sorghum supply.
    • In Karamoja, cattle, goats, and sheep to sorghum terms of trade (ToT) slightly increased from March to April.  Approximately, one third of poor household can afford to sell a goat or sheep. Food purchased with proceeds from these sales can help compensate for  lower than usual availability of casual labor opportunities, primarily due to low planted area and less demand for agricultural labor.
    • Karamoja is currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance (Figure 1). Without this assistance, most areas would likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Most households are consuming market purchases and humanitarian assistance. About 40 percent of the population is receiving humanitarian assistance, which is nearly double the percent in a normal year. Low wild food availability and below average income from casual labor have led to lower than usual food access. Poor households have intensified some strategies to gain additional food and income, including taking food loans, sharing food, begging, sand mining, and sales of firewood and charcoal.

    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. However, some of the assumptions related to rainfall have been modified below. A full discussion of the scenario is available here. The updated assumptions for Karamoja are as follows:

    • While in April, it was assumed that cumulative March to August rainfall would be near average, this is increasingly unlikely. Total cumulative rainfall from June to August period is likely to be below-average, similar to the below average March to May rainfall.
    • In April, it was assumed that the green harvest would be mostly typical. However, due to the poor rainfall, the green harvest in July is likely to be of well below average volume.
    • As a result of less crop growth, casual labor opportunities will continue to be less available than usual, at least in part due to the low planted area. 

    Projected Outlook through September 2014

    In Karamoja, crops that were planted on time in later March or in southern areas are expected to fully mature by August/September. However, poor germination from the late planted crops has lowered the need for weeding and will reduce both weeding and harvest labor demand. While some green harvest will become available in July, it will be significantly below average. With the significant change in the projected green harvest, most of the areas that were classified to improve from Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with humanitarian assistance to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for July to September have been reclassified. They are now expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with the presence of humanitarian assistance through at least September (Figures 1 and 2). The green harvest will be followed by a below average August to December dry harvest.

    With the below average harvest, food stocks will not be replenished to normal levels. With less agricultural labor income earned than usual, households will have lower purchasing power, even in the immediate post-harvest period. While staple foods will remain available on markets, low incomes will constrain food access. Poor households will likely be unable to fully meet food needs through July, which if not met by food assistance may result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, food assistance to poor households is expected to continue through August, keeping outcomes at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) due to the presence of humanitarian assistance (Figure 2) likely until at least September.

    In bimodal areas, household food stocks  are currently low to moderate. However, these will be replenished at with a near average harvest in June/July though it may be delayed in some areas. Some pockets may have less than average volumes harvested. Overall,, most areas will have enough own production and income to obtain food and other necessities, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through September. In June, staple food prices will likely begin their seasonal decline as harvests in bimodal areas start to arrive on the market, primarily as green crops and with the dry harvest in July.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3.  Rainfall anomalies for March to May 2014 in mm from 2001 to 2013 mean

    Figure 2

    Figure 3. Rainfall anomalies for March to May 2014 in mm from 2001 to 2013 mean

    Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/FEWS NET

    Figure 4. Rainfall in mm in Moroto District, 2014 and 2000 to 2013 mean

    Figure 3

    Figure 4. Rainfall in mm in Moroto District, 2014 and 2000 to 2013 mean

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 4


    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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