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The below-average harvest will temporarily relieve the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Karamoja

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Uganda
  • September 2014
The below-average harvest will temporarily relieve the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Karamoja

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Delayed and below-average green and dry sorghum harvests in Karamoja will increase food availability and access from October through December, with many households moving to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The amount and duration of household stocks will vary by area. Overall, higher phases of acute food insecurity will likely return by January.

    • Despite the disruption of livestock trade due to the quarantine, some limited livestock sales continue. Increased livestock-to-sorghum Terms of Trade (ToT) have increased food access in Karamoja. As the vaccination campaign continues to increase coverage against foot and mouth disease, new cases become less likely.

    • Land preparation and planting for the second season are ongoing in bimodal areas despite below-average rainfall since the start of September. Steady rains are anticipated by mid-October, and overall normal to above normal rainfall is expected through December. Early harvests are likely to increase food availability in November/December.

    Current Situation
    • Countrywide, atypically heavy rains fell in late August and early September. Normally, rains intensify in mid-September, and that’s when land preparation and planting for the second season is most intense. However, the heavy rains caused many farmers to complete land preparation and planting somewhat early. However, a dry spell of around two weeks followed these heavy rains when normally steady rain would fall. Localized waterlogging and storms destroyed germinating crops in some of the newly planted fields. They also damaged maturing root crops and perennials in some northern, eastern, and southern districts. Some households had post-harvest losses of first season cereals that were harvested in August. These crops could not be dried due to the heavy rains.
    • With heavy rains early September, landslides occurred in Bulambuli District in eastern Uganda. Fortunately, no deaths or destruction of houses was reported, but livestock deaths and destroyed crops were reported from two villages. This area is prone to landslides during prolonged, heavy rains.
    • In Karamoja, sorghum performance varies between different areas. Most of the sorghum has not yet reached maturity due to the erratic June to August rainfall and the residual impact of the April/May dry spell. In a normal year, the green harvest begins in July while harvesting of dry sorghum occurs from August through October, though long-cycle varieties may not be fully mature until as late as January. For this year, the green harvest was delayed until September, and the dry harvest will continue through at least December. Some minimal amount of green harvest of sorghum, maize, millet, and cowpeas is happening now. Temporary waterlogging following the heavy rains in late August and early September along with nearly two weeks of hot sunshine without rain caused wilting of much of the sorghum planted in June. It has had less flowering and even fewer plants reaching the grain-filling stage than the sorghum planted earlier. Apart from sorghum, the well below-average millet harvest started in Kotido, and both the well below-average green and dry maize harvests in Abim District are nearly complete.
    • Pasture availability remains average to above-average in both bimodal areas and in unimodal Karamoja. Following the heavy rains, pasture and water availability for livestock have been better than last year, leading to increased production, including milk production to be near average or more. Livestock body conditions are also mostly average or good.
    • Sufficient market supply is increasing food access for the poor in bimodal areas. While some post-harvest handling and processing was interrupted by the heavy rains early September, market supply continued to increase. Supplies increased of some key staples and their prices decreased from June to August including sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, and millet. However, in a few markets, prices increased slightly. For example, prices of cooking bananas in Kampala, sorghum in Soroti and Gulu, and beans in Lira and Gulu increased six to 12 percent from July to August. With the availability of cheaper substitutes and normal seasonal incomes, food access for the poor has increased.
    • Prices of key staple foods fell from July to August, increasing food access for the poor in Karamoja. Supplies of sorghum, maize, millet, and beans from Mbale, Soroti, Acholi, and Lango Districts into Karamoja caused prices to decline by seven to 35 percent from July to August. This occurred despite the extended lean season in Karamoja with high demand for market purchases. While very small, the start of the green harvest has also contributed by slightly reducing demand from markets.
    • Livestock sales in northern Uganda including Karamoja remain constrained. Following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease late May, a quarantine was imposed to restrict livestock movements that could spread the disease. A vaccination campaign is ongoing, and with increased vaccination coverage and the quarantine, the number of new cases is declining. Livestock sales are a major source of income in much of northern Uganda. However, as a result of falling staple food prices, in Karamoja, goat- or sheep-to-sorghum terms of trade (ToT) increased from 22 to 46 percent from July to August.
    • In Karamoja, the quantity of food being consumed by households has increased. The green harvest, while much below normal, has provided some food. This harvest along withsome labor activities are the primary drivers of the increase. Dietary diversity remains extremely limited, but the proportion of households unable to have one meal a day with close to typical portions has significantly declined. In addition to these sources, households are also sourcing food and income from wild foods and bush products, brewing, succulent sorghum stovers, charcoal and firewood sales, and livestock sales. In Kaabong and Moroto Districts, small-scale gold mining is also an important source of income.
    • Areas in eastern Karamoja remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Despite some access to minimal green harvests in the rest of Karamoja and slight improvement in food access by the households, some localized areas are still Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they have had no green harvest. The sub-counties of Lodiko, Kalapata, Kaabong East, Loyoro, parts of Sidok, parts of Kathile, and Kamion in Kaabong District and Rupa, Katikekile, parts of Tapac, and Nadunget Sub-counties in Moroto District are currently the most acutely food insecure and have crops in the worst condition with some areas having no viable crops left in the field. In these areas, food access through firewood and charcoal sales, wild food collection, and the typical safety nets provided for the poorest is inadequate.
    • South Sudanese refugees have steadily been arriving since mid-December, 120,663 people had sought refuge by August, a 1,660 person increase from July. Refugees continued to arrive in the northern districts of Arua, Adjumani, and Kiryandongo. As refugees are allotted land upon arrival in Uganda, the government is considering relocations to Moyo District. While assistance is ongoing, not all needs are being.

    Updated Assumptions

    The following assumptions are updated from the original assumptions in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for July to October 2014 which is available here.

    • In July, it was assumed that many crops in eastern Karamoja would not reach maturity. Due to some unexpectedly heavy rains in last August and early September, this is looking less likely, and more areas than originally expected are likely to have some crops reach maturity and able to be harvested between October and December.
    • In July and again in August, it was assumed that the quarantine would greatly reduce income from livestock sales. While long-distance trade remains highly curtailed, it appears that the quarantine has had limited impact on livestock prices and that local sales will, to a limited extent, help replace some of the lost long-distance sales. While livestock trade is still curtailed by the quarantine, the new assumption is that some sales will continue with a smaller reduction in income from livestock sales expected across northern Uganda including Karamoja.

    Projected Outlook Through December 2014

    A slight increase in food availability and access is expected in most parts of Karamoja to move many households from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October through December. Following the well below-average green harvest, the dry harvest in October/November will be both delayed and well below average in volume. It will not be able to fully replenish household food stocks to last beyond December. Some households will sell crops, prioritizing cash needs. However, in the harvest and post-harvest periods, there will be reduced market demand as less food is sourced from markets. With steady supply from neighboring districts, prices for sorghum and other staples will likely remain stable through December. Not all households will have a harvest, so in localized areas, food sharing and kinship support to households will likely to be important mechanisms to obtain food. Households without crops are most likely located in eastern Kaabong and Moroto Districts. A limited number of livestock sales are likely to continue to provide some income for food purchases. However, the quarantine may still remain in effect, and sales are likely to remain constrained.

    Most bimodal areas are expected to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through December. Normal seasonal on-farm labor is anticipated to be a key income source, and typical income-earning activities are anticipated to be available at normal levels. With average to above-average rainfall expected from October through December, most crops should develop normally. Households will primarily be sourcing food from markets through labor or from their own households stocks from the first season. In areas where early planted crops were washed away by heavy rains, there is still time for replanting, and this is likely to occur. Staple food prices will likely remain stable though they may fall further in October as demand for planting materials decreases and supplies remain available. Exports of food from Uganda to South Sudan will likely continue to be subdued, helping maintain ample supplies in the domestic market to keep prices stable.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Rainfall anomalies in millimeters (mm) from the 2001 to 2013 mean, September 11-20, 2014

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Rainfall anomalies in millimeters (mm) from the 2001 to 2013 mean, September 11-20, 2014

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

    Figure 3


    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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