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Early harvests in bimodal areas; IPC Phase 2: Stress continues in Karamoja

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • November 2013
Early harvests in bimodal areas; IPC Phase 2: Stress continues in Karamoja

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through November 2013
  • Key Messages
    • In Karamoja, food security outcomes in agropastoral zones remain at IPC Phase 2 Stress levels following below average seasonal harvests. In the short term through December, households are consuming their own production and through seasonably lower cost market purchases. However, the lean season is expected to begin two months early in January 2014 as household reserves are consumed.
    • In bimodal areas, seasonal rainfall returned to normal levels in November, compensating for some observed deficits in October. Second season harvests in November/December are projected to be at least average. Ongoing early harvests in most bimodal areas have already bolstered food availability and increased market supply, sustaining Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) in these areas through December.
    • Increased availability and price speculation regarding second season staple harvests on markets across the country have tempered recent and somewhat atypical price increases. The projected favorable second harvest is likely to mitigate significant staple price increases through the holiday season.

    Current Situation
    • The Meteorological Department of Uganda has updated their forecast to reflect an increased likelihood for normal to above normal second season rainfall in bimodal areas. Suppressed rainfall in central and western Uganda and around the Lake Victoria basin in the month of October was observed. Isolated areas in the southern districts of Masaka, Lwengo, Rakai and Sembabule recorded below average rainfall in October, while remaining bimodal areas received normal rainfall. Rainfall in the first two dekads of November has broadly compensated for deficits observed in October. In most bimodal areas, the peak rains are still expected in mid to late November, and expected to end seasonably in mid to late December.
    • Seasonal progress is average to above average across bimodal zones. The second bimodal season has favored good crop performance, increasing the likelihood of average to above average harvests. Crops like rice, maize, millet, sorghum and tubers have reached 45-75 percent of the reproductive stage, with other crops like beans, maize, horticultural crops already being harvested. Early harvests in the south, west and north western Uganda resulted from early planting by some farmers with the premature onset of rainfall in these areas, ahead of the formal start of season declaration by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the Meteorological department. New supplies of beans on the market may explain observed price decreases of 20-24 percent in Kampala, Lira and Gulu, compared to September, though price levels remain 18-36 percent higher compared to 2012 prices at the same time. Crop performance in the eastern lowland and central zones where cassava, sorghum, beans, rice, maize and groundnut are dominant remains closer to below average.
    • Early harvests in most bimodal areas are improving food availability and helping to maintain Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1).  In November, staple food price increases observed since August were tempered by the appearance of additional stocks on the market.  Monthly price inflation decreased by one percent in October 2013 down from the 5.3 percent increase registered in September 2013 due to enhanced availability of some food commodities like bean, green maize, vegetables, and cassava among on markets.
    • Pastoral conditions in unimodal Karamoja remain favorable and above the 5-year average following the end of the rainy season. At a regional level, vegetative conditions are above average, exceeding typical availability for this time of year and continue to support at least average livestock body conditions.  This is most apparent in southern Karamoja, particularly in Nakapiripirit where pasture availability is much better than 2012 levels.  Across much of the northern and central districts, pasture availability is below 2012 levels but are sufficient to maintain average body conditions for grazing animals. Rangeland conditions in the cattle corridor remain favorable and any livestock migrations to dry season grazing areas are likely to be delayed into January.
    • The main harvest is nearly over in Karamoja, and harvest ouput is generally below average, as expected. Poor households have experienced improved availability and access to food from production, which is anywhere from 30-50 percent below average in the districts most affected by poor rainfall this year. However, this temporary availability will not sufficiently replenish food stocks and incomes from crop sales to sustain household food needs through the lean season, which is expected to start at least two months early, in January 2014. Though tempered, IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of acute food insecurity continue in Karamoja, as livelihoods have not fully recovered from the impacts of the atypically extended lean season in 2013. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current and projected food security outcomes in both bimodal and unimodal areas and assumptions made in developing FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the period of October 2013 to March 2014 remain valid. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the October 2013 to March 2014 Food Security Outlook.

    Projected Outlook Through November 2013

    FEWS NET’s projected outlook through November 2013 remains unchanged. Seasonal outcomes from the 2013 unimodal season will not sufficiently restore food and crop sales income to normal levels in unimodal Karamoja. As a result, household ability to access food through market purchase will be constrained due to lack of purchasing power and increased reliance on expenditures for food needs rather than reserves from the harvest.   An earlier than normal exhaustion of food stocks is expected in January when dependence on the market will begin to be a significant source of food. More widespread food insecurity outcomes at Stressed IPC Phase 2 are likely in agropastoral zones. Livestock outcomes for the period through December will continue to be favorable, though a low milk production season, livestock body conditions are expected to remain average with the availability of pasture and water resources.  Food assistance to the current vulnerable households and those that will become vulnerable in January will be a key mitigating factor that can contribute to the prevention of a more significant deterioration in food insecurity to preharvest levels observed in August. The cumulative rainfall in bimodal areas received to-date is expected to result in average to above average seasonal outcomes for most staples that will increase household and market supplies for most households to remain in IPC Phase 1: Minimal food insecurity through December and the next harvest season.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year in Uganda

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year in Uganda

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5


    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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