Acute food insecurity expected to continue in Karamoja, minimal food insecurity in bimodal areas
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
The lean season is coming to a close in bimodal areas, with the start of the main harvest, while in unimodal areas, particularly in northeastern Uganda, an extended lean season continues to drive more acute food security outcomes. Food security across the country can be described as follows:
- Inconsistent rainfall in production zones: Despite a strong start to the rainy season in March/April, intermittent dry spells in May (Figure 2) and poor distribution in both bimodal and unimodal areas has affected cropping activities and harvest potential. Rainfall deficits were most pronounced southestern parts of the Lango region, Teso region, Busoga region and Sebei districts and pastoral rangelands of the central southern districts (bimodal) and in Karamoja, where the rainy season will continue through October. The first rainy season in bimodal zones is completed for most parts of the country except the northwestern areas where rains are being experienced.
- Average seasonal performance and ongoing harvests in bimodal areas: The first and most important seasonal harvest of most staples including groundnuts, beans, soyabeans, maize, millet, sorghum, rice, sunflower and simsim and fruits like citrus is completed or coming to a close in bimodal areas, specifically in the central, south and southwestern production zones. Overall, collection and storage activities are ongoing and harvests are close to average in these areas despite some short dry spells and poor rainfall distribution earlier in the season (April and May).
- Poor seasonal progress in unimodal areas: Crop growth throughout the region has been compromised to various degrees by inconsistent rainfall patterns, including dry spells and sporadic deluges, which resulted in near average seasonal rainfall totals but compromised crop development. Normally in the two months prior to the September harvest, cereals like sorghum and maize and pulses are in the last stage of maturity and already providing opportunities for green consumption. Currently across much of the region, crops are at varying stages of growth from near flowering to past flowering into maturity or have been lost entirely. In Nakapiripirit, southern Moroto and Amudat districts, near normal growth patterns for sorghum are observed. Based on current rainfall levels and crop development, a below average October harvest is projected, including a less than average green harvest in September.
- Extended lean season in unimodal areas: Due to poor seasonal performance and early exhaustion of 2012 food stocks, poor households in Karamoja, particularly in Kotido, Moroto, Kaabong, and Napak districts, are in the seventh month of what is normally a five month lean period. Households are nearly 100 percent market dependent, which is normal for this time of year, but are in the seventh month of market purchase, compared to five months normally. Limited purchasing power through livestock sales are limited to the small proportion of poor households who still have assets to sell. Poor and very poor households are currently meeting some of their food needs through food assistance, as well as intensified wild food consumption and market purchases.
- Decreasing water availability and pasture in bimodal areas: In the southwestern cattle corridor, as well as districts in the east and north east, pasture has dried out faster than normal. In these areas, overgrazing is an additional compounding factor to pasture availability. Decreasing pasture and water availability in these bimodal zones has lead to significant reduction in milk production countrywide, and created higher demand for water for livestock production in the cattle corridor districts. In unimodal areas, primarily Karamoja region, rainfall that has not supported crop growth has encouraged pasture and browse regeneration, with ample grazing opportunities in less populated areas.
- Lower than normal staple food prices country-wide: The price of most staple foods across the country is lower than average, resulting from lower than expected monthly decreases. Typically month to month decreases for staple foods range from 3.8 to 8 percent during this time of year, when harvests from bimodal areas begin to impact market prices. Across the key markets monitored by FEWS NET, staple food prices decreased an average of 6 percent between June and July, largely due to the onset of the harvest period when household stocks are at their highest and market demand decreases. Prices for cooking bananas and sorghum are below the five year average. Prices for key staples are also lower than 2012 levels at this time: bananas in Mbarara (-70%) and in Kampala (-52%), sorghum in Lira (-43%) and Soroti (-44%), millet in Lira (- 25%) and in Soroti (19%), beans in Kampala (-6%), Lira (21) Gulu (-25%) and Mbarara (-25%), respectively, cassava chips in Arua and Soroti (14 and 15% respectively).
- Interannual assistance programs expanded in Karamoja: the levels of food assistance in the last 5 years have been on a downward trend following the down scaling of food assistance to more of development interventions for sustainability. However, recent food shortages and malnutrition levels have necessitated an additional expansion of existing institutional food assistance interventions to mitigate the severity and duration of the 2013 lean season.
- Refugee flows into southwestern districts: The influx of over 65,000 refugees in the month of July, primarily into Bundibugyo district following conflict between the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the government forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is creating additional demand on regional and local food resources.
- Minimal food insecurity in bimodal areas: Early land preparation activities are underway in the bimodal areas in preparation for the second season in August/September. While the harvest season is almost over, household food stocks have averagely been replenished to usual levels although some localized food deficits exist because of the poor crop harvests caused by the severe impacts of the dry spell. Poor households depending on the market to meet their food needs but will be limited to do so in September because of below average incomes from crop sales. Normal pursit of other livelihoods activities is ongoing.
- IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of food insecurity in unimodal Karamoja: Poor and very poor households in Karamoja region are currently facing IPC Phase 2 Stress due to the effects an extended lean season on food reserves, purchasing power and seasonal revenues. Though staple food prices are low compared to average, atypically low revenues earned during the poor agricultural season limit the ability of households to meet their food needs during a time of complete and extended market dependence. Additionally, the early exhaustion of household food stocks and low asset levels are driving poor households to adapt coping destructive coping strategies, including skipping meals, borrowing food, irreversible decapitalization of dwindling livestock assets, and higher dependence on food assistance. More than 20 percent of households in pastoral and agropastoral zones of Karamoja are currently facing IPC Phase 2 acute food insecurity.
The most likely scenario during the July - December 2013 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Near average to average seasonal harvests are expected in bimodal areas following the first agricultural season (JuneAugust). Typically, this harvest provides households with 2-3 months of food stocks. This harvest also typically boosts market supply of maize and other staples at a national level and allows for continued large-scale regional exports of maize, and for other staples like beans and millet destined for Rwanda, South Sudan and Kenya.
- Maize prices are expected to decrease country-wide during the July to September marketing period following a combination of average production spurred by higher farm gate prices in the February/March marketing period, and moderate volumes of stocks still held by farmers and traders from the 2012 September/December rainy season. Prices are expected to be near less than 10 percent below the five-year seasonal averages mostly in August except for maize, beans and bananas during this period.
- Prices for most staple foods will decline seasonally following the bimodal first season harvests in July/August and will follow seasonal trends through October. Stable retail prices are expected to continue declining following seasonal trends for the next 2 months as harvest and completion of harvesting activities progresses. Speculation regarding actual production will likely be the trigger for upward trending of prices as crop performance is expected to be average.
- Normal seasonal revenues in bimodal areas are likely, as poor and very poor households will earn at least average wages through typical livelihoods activities, including fishing, petty trade, and casual agriculture labor. Earning potential is expected to be normal and allow for seasonally average access to food and non food needs.
- Pastoral conditions will be worse than average through August and Sepetember before the second season rains in bimodal areas. Currently, drier than average conditions are expected to significantly reduce pasture and water resources in more densely populated pastoral areas, particularly cattle corridor districts. Body conditions and milk production will range from average to below average. Migrations of livestock into national park reserves in search of pasture and water and conflict arising out of sharing natural resources with wildlife is more likely.
- Trading activities within Uganda, as well as with neighboring countries, are expected to behave normally with high levels of demand from neighboring countries, including Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. No policy interventions preventing the free movement of food commodities from surplus to deficit production areas are anticipated.
- Civil insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will likely continue at current or worse levels. As a result, the influx of refugees into southwestern districts of Uganda is likely to continue at current levels.
- No major outbreaks of contagious livestock disease are anticipated.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Near average to average seasonal harvests are expected to sustain favorable food security outcomes throughout bimodal areas of the country from July to September. Average harvests at the end of the first harvest season (July/August) will replenish household food stocks to near typical levels and assure some incomes from crop sales. Staple food prices will be at their lowest levels between August and September. Retail prices for most staple expected to remain at levels lower than last year at the same time for poor households in the rural and urban areas to food access. Preparations for the second agricultural season will begin in late July/early August, providing ample seasonal employment for on-farm casual laborers. Poor and very poor households will earn wages and in-kind food payment in exchange for labor. While prices for staple crops are expected to decline further in the near term, prices of other horticultural crops like tomatoes and other vegetables will remain high as the dry season impact becomes more apparent. Near average livestock body condition and suppressed milk production are expected as pasture and water resources decline which will reduce incomes from milk sales at typical levels. Prices for milk products are expected to remain seasonally high till the resumption of rains in September when milk production levels will recover. Urban households dependent on the market as a main food source likely to insufficiently access milk for this period because of the increased prices and unavailability through local vendors. Poor and very poor households will remain in IPC Phase 1 Minimal acute food insecurity through September.
From October to December, households in bimodal zones where poor rainfall distribution reduced overall yields will be able to access their remaining food needs through market purchase with wages earned from seasonal activities. In a typical year, poor households in bimodal areas produce up to at least 2-3 months of food stocks to last them to the next season with minimal dependence on the market. However for this season, likely food gaps from own production will be offset by market purchases using incomes from casual labor and some minimal crop sales incomes. A general uptrend trend for retail prices countrywide will likely begin during this time as actual production speculation from farmers and traders will be factored into final price setting as supplies from the concluded harvests are verified. In bimodal areas of the country, most households will be able to meet both their food and non-food needs, without engaging in atypical coping strategies throughout the outlook period, meaning that minimal to none (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity will be observed through December 2013. However Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes will continue to prevail through December in the agropastoral and pastoral zones of Karamoja due to anticipated below average harvests for the second consecutive year, below average cash incomes and the longer than usual lean season (since January) coupled with the poor food consumption indicators.
Areas of Concern
Agropastoral and Pastoral livelihood zones in Karamoja
Available evidence suggests a rapid change in livelihoods since 2008. The FAO Karamoja Food security Assessment (2012) reports increased importance of crop production in the pastoral zone as a source of food (>30 percent vs. <10 percent in 2008). This means that that food production was greater in some pastoral areas than in some agropastoral or even agriculture zones. The report also suggests a 20‐50 percent reduction in livestock ownership among the poor households. Many households in the pastoral zone do not own any livestock. Livestock sales remain an important source of income, but for the poor, these sales are being done at unsustainable levels. Cash earned from charcoal production has reached roughly 15% of annual income, another change from the past. Other income sources are also becoming more prominent, including mining for precious stones/minerals and brewing.
Erratic rains at the beginning of the wet season and a longer dry spell experienced in the zones in May and much of June have compromised the 2013/2014 harvests in Karamoja, as intermittent water logging at the start of rains and dry spells have resulted in crop stunting and inconsistent seasonal progress, particularly in Kotido, Kaabong, and Moroto districts where crop development is the most delayed and poorly advanced. Southern district of Nakapiripirit, which benefitted from more reliable rainfall in late June/early July, appear to have closer to average development of sorghum. The June-JulyAugust seasonal forecast given by the Department of Meteorology forecasted that August will experience continuing occasional outbreaks of showers and thunderstorms, a typical seasonal evolution for this time of year. The most likely scenario according to this and other sources is that rainfall will be average for the rest of the year but insufficient for optimal crop growth. The updated September through December forecasts are pending global forum of climate scientists in September.
Partially as a result of poor seasonal performance in 2013, households in unimodal areas are in the midst of an extended lean season, specifically, in districts where seasonal performance was poor in Karamoja region. Normally, the lean season starts in April/May and ends in July/August. However, this year, due to poor staple crop production in 2012/2013 caused by water logging and fungal diseases, household food production from the July-October 2012 harvests did not sufficiently replenish stocks to usual levels, and seasonal incomes earned through on-farm labor (the primary income source for this period) during the 2013 rainy season have been lower than average. Atypical search for labor opportunities in neighboring towns, border countries in Kenya and South Sudan in search of casual labor opportunities is observed. Households who would normally just be starting to depend entirely on the market (40-60 percent of food sources) are in the 3rd or 4th month of near total market dependence. In order to access even minimal food needs, households are relying on intensified seasonal livelihood strategies that include begging, remittances, beer brewing/consumption, and very limited livestock sales. Higher than usual charcoal/firewood sales have been ongoing since April when peak production and sales would typically end and resume later in December. Casual labor incomes being derived from income opportunities brought about by the wet season (March-July) were lower than usual (20-50 percent) due to the erratic nature of rains that cast doubt on seasonal outcomes by farmers. The peak labor opportunities typically end in July. Poor and very poor households are also dependent on interannual food assistance.
Though rainfall has not been sufficiently promoting staple crop growth, pasture and grazing areas have increased and water availability is average to good. This has resulted in average livestock conditions and milk production levels. The majority of calving is complete, with the peak of milk supply ending in July for households with cattle. While specific data are not available regarding herd dynamics among wealth groups in Karamoja, small scale livestock holdings have been observed among poor and very poor households, although up to 50 percent of households lack these saleable resources. Following the extended lean season, one key coping mechanism has been to sell animals in order to access basic food needs, reducing irreplaceable capital among poor households.
More individual households have engaged in crop production, mining of precious stones to somehow fill income gaps left by the significant reduction in livestock assets. Poor households who do still have livestock are selling animals at unsustainable levels to purchase food as an atypical strategy thus eroding their livelihoods and inability to replace the herd. A poor household that owned 5 shoats at the beginning of the lean season and sold 2 for the purpose of purchasing food has already suffered a 40 percent herd reduction that may not be replaced the following year or provide additional income in the case of a prolonged lean season as is being observed now. To meet food needs, consumption of wild food (less than 5 percent of the diet, currently) began in March through June although availability has been compromised by the longer than usual dry spell. This year, consumption of these foods (mushrooms, tamarind, honey) continues into July through December.
Seasonally high but less volatile prices for sorghum, the main staple have been experienced during this lean season but June sorghum prices were below 2012 prices by 23-30 percent in Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Kaabong markets and only 6 percent in Kaabong for the same period. In the proxy supply markets of Lira and Soroti, similar trends were observed, as prices decreased by 25 and 29 percent respectively for the month of June compared to May, while prices were below 2012 prices by 43 and 44 percent for Lira and Soroti respectively for the period June last year. Food prices have not been a deterrent for poor households to access food; limited purchasing power is the primary constraint. Livestock prices have been lower than usual for this time of year, due to unfavorable prices offered at the market since households have to sell the animals by all means to return home with food from the market. Shoats/sorghum terms of trade compared to the three year average for July suggest a 22-25 percent decrease. This is an additional compounding factor for poor households who have not only been through an extended lean season, but also experienced worse than normal terms of trade because of high sorghum prices over the last several months. Wtih respect to firewood/sorghum, charcoal/sorghum, labor/sorghum, terms of have been stable since the month of April and showed improvement in June.
Household consumption practices are currently consistent with seasonal norms, although the intensification of coping mechanisms and food access strategies suggests acute food insecurity. The majority of the poor households in the hardest hit districts of Karamoja are unable to meet their normal food requirements, reflected in reduced food intake, both in quantity and number of meals eaten per day. The preliminary results from a Food security and nutrition study by the School of Public Health sponsored by WFP and UNICEF in May 2013 suggest poor food consumption in the Karamoja region, as a significant proportion of poor households are reducing the number of meals eaten per day. According to the report, an estimated 19-49 percent are regularly missing meals 1-2 days out of 7 days. Approximately 19-58 percent of households in the districts of the Karamoja region went an entire day or two without eating, according to the report. The availability of normal milk at this time is providing some supplemental nutrition for the few poor households who have any remaining livestock.
Global acute malnutrition is prevalent in Karamoja, as all districts in Karamoja except for Abim have experienced GAM rates of 10 percent or higher since 2009. Current and historical data for global acute malnutrition rates in Karamoja suggest chronically high level of acute malnutrition. However, in most districts, the prevalence of malnutrition is lower than or similar to levels over the last three years, as shown in Figure 7. This historical information provides important evidence for why acute food insecurity remains classified as IPC Phase 2 Stress. While this year the GAM levels still remain characterized as serious, the preliminary results of the Food security and nutrition study by the School of Public Health sponsored by WFP and UNICEF in May 2013 suggest that there is no statistical difference between the GAM levels in the districts this year compared to an average year.
Poor and very poor households in Karamoja region, particularly Kotido, Kaabong, Moroto and Napak districts, are facing IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of food insecurity. Atleast 20 percent of the households in the zone are experiencing minimally adequate food consumption and are unable to afford some essential nonfood expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies. It is likely that some households in the more acutely food insecure districts of Napak, Kaabong, Moroto and Kotido exhibit the characteristics of IPC phase 3 when the consumption indicators are examined especially the under 5 mortality rate, the acute malnutrition and prevalence of BMI <18.5 for mothers. However the number of households is less than the threshold of at least 20 percent of the households in the zone considering that food assistance has mitigated the impacts of food insecurity among populations at the highest risk of acute food insecurity.
The most likely scenario for July to December 2013 is based on the following regional assumptions which are expected to behave normally during the scenario period:
- Seasonal rainfall, which typically continues through October, is expected to be average, according to regional forecasts. Average seasonal rainfall is normally categorized as sporadic and poorly distributed throughout the August-October period. A continuation of normal rainfall is not expected to be sufficient to maximize crop (sorghum) growth and ensure a normal harvest. Crop shortfalls will be the most significant in Kotido, Kaabong and Moroto districts. However, rainfall will be enough to sustain good pasture growth and livestock production.
- Due to delays, and compromised crop growth, the October harvest is expected to be 30-50 percent below average for the second consecutive year.
- The lean season is expected to continue into August, one month later than usual. The green harvest which normally marks the end of the lean season is expected to be below average and is unlikely to be available until September instead of August due to delayed crop maturity. Wild food consumption is expected to continue at atypically high levels in July and August, where the green harvest is normally available.
- Wild food consumption is not expected to meet more than 5 percent of household needs (maximum proportion in a typical year during the lean season).
- Poor and very poor households will rely on market purchases through August/September, and possibly into December as the October harvest is likely to be below average. July-December will be characterized by atypically relatively higher number of households engaged in charcoal / firewood sales to obtain income to purchase food since the lean season is likely to be extended.
- Higher market prices than last year will be observed in the supply markets of Lira and Soroti in July and September, respectively, with a higher likelihood of price increases in Soroti markets. Monthly sorghum prices are expected to be 10 percent higher than 2012 levels through December. The prices of main staple foods like sorghum and maize are likely to remain high compared to pre-harvest prices of June/July because of the sustained demand due to below average harvests that will be delayed. Since household food stocks are likely not to be replenished, atypical dependence on the market will sustain demand. However, food relief provided by WFP may moderate price increases.
- Incomes from casual on farm labor is expected to end seasonably in July for activities as land preparation, planting activities, weeding, will atypically be low as a result of the impacts of the May/June dry spell.
- Supplemental incomes from grass sales will resume in September through December onwards at normal levels. Pole cutting and brick making will be key seasonal income sources in November-December onwards at normal levels. Additionally, honey harvesting will occur in September/November though at low levels compared to the main season.
- The period August/September will be marked by seasonably lower levels of milk production as the main lactating period comes to an end in preparation for conception and normal gestation cycle of the livestock in this region. August/October will also mark the period in which most livestock conceive, as typical in a normal year.
- July-December is expected to be a period of low incidence of disease burden for common contagious diseases in the area. No major disease outbreak will occur to significantly impact the livestock herds, human health and the normal functioning of the livestock markets.
- Market function and commercial activities are expected to be normal and continue to occur uninterrupted to supply the region with the required food stuffs. Flows between national and regional supply markets to deficit areas are expected to continue without interruption and at normal levels.
- Additional incomes from the cash for work programme of WFP will be provided in July, earlier than usual and in advance of work performed as a measure to provide additional food source as a safety net. About 400,000 persons (60,000 food insecure households) are expected to be beneficiaries of this program. The resumption of Food for Work by the NUSAF 2 programme through WFP is also expected to continue through December.
- Normal interannual humanitarian assistance on-going in the Karamoja region will continue uninterrupted. Approximately 155,000 chronically food insecure people (34,000 households will receive monthly unconditional food assistance at half rations through December. Additionally, 25,000 beneficiaries who are malnourished children, malnourished pregnant and lactating mothers that have been targeted will receive the highly fortified foods under the community Based Supplementary Feeding Programme (CBSFP). More than 100,000 school children on the school feeding programme are being targeted will receive the assistance.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Due to the combined effects of a probable, moderately below-average main harvest in 2013, poor purchasing power from low seasonal on-farm wages, depleted livestock assets, and increasing seasonal prices, poor and very poor households will continue to face IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of acute food insecurity, with varying severity from July to December. While IPC Phase 3 outcomes are expected, particularly in districts most severely affected by below average harvests (Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong and Napak), Food security outcomes will be most acute and affect the highest number of people from July to September, in the last months of an already protracted lean season during the period before food stocks can be replenished by the green harvest or the main harvest. Although charcoal production/sale normally is low during the scenario period, higher levels of dependence than usual on the natural resource sales (firewood, charcoal) may be observed carrying on from previous peak levels. Migration to nearby towns in search of casual labor opportunities maybe pursued by the able bodied members of the poorer households in order to maintain minimal market access. Acute household food insecurity will be somewhat mitigated in the post harvest months (October to December) as households will draw upon even below average household stocks and reduce market expenditures and enhance food consumption. During this period, seasonal wages and continued food assistance will allow poor households to meet some food needs, but food insecurity levels will likely deteriorate and start to return to preharvest levels in late November/December as households consume their remaining production and increase market dependence.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
|Area||Event||Impact on food security outcomes|
|Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones||Significant and sustained rainfall beginning July through August||
|Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones||An outbreak or increased incidence of livestock diseases, such as contagious bovine pleural pneumonia (CBPP) or foot and mouth disease (FMD) or trypanasomiasis||
|Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones||Implementation of additional, atypical humanitarian assistance programming through December||
|Karamoja agropastoral and pastoral zones||Abnormally high prices for staple foods resulting from any interruption of trading activities or road inaccessibility by traders or the increase in transaction costs||
About Scenario Development
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.
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