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Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity likely to continue following below-average harvests

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Uganda
  • October 2015 - March 2016
Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity likely to continue following below-average harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected in bimodal areas through March 2016, with food stocks available from the first season harvest. Increasing steady rains, although delayed by atleast three weeks, are enabling ploughing, planting and weeding activities and providing labor income for poor households. Above average harvests are expected in November through January.

    • In Karamoja, below-average harvests are limiting household access to own-produced foods and the reconstitution of stocks during the current post-harvest period. Households will purchase more food than usual from the market and for a longer period of time in order to meet food needs. Very poor households may not be able to afford all livelihoods protection needs and will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between October 2015 and March 2016.

    • During the October to December season, El Nino is generally associated with average to above-average rainfall over Uganda, which may support harvests. However, in some places, these rains may cause greater than usual water-logging of soils in flood-prone areas, and may result in some local agricultural production losses.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    • The delayed onset of second season bimodal rains has delayed seasonal activities by 2-3 weeks. The start of seasonal rains is typically expected by mid-September, and peak rains attained by mid-October. However, the prolonged erratic and insufficient rainfall since August resulted in some deficits mostly in northern and western Uganda. However, rainfall has improved in October (Figure 1).
    • Near normal seasonal agriculture activities are ongoing and ensuring casual labor opportunities for the poor. Most farmers are engaged in land preparation and planting while a few who planted early in September are weeding. With the steady increase of the rains, October is the peak of farm labor demand for activities as bush clearing, ploughing, planting, and weeding. Poor households are able to earn income to access food and other non-food items.
    • Atypically prolonged dry conditions in unimodal Karamoja, due to cumulative below-average rainfall, have resulted in a significant reduction in pasture and water resources. Conflicts over these resources have been reported in Moroto between herders from neighboring Turkana and local livestock keepers. Livestock body conditions are below average for areas where herders have not migrated to traditional dry season grazing areas.
    • In the central cattle corridor districts of Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Kaliro, Sembabule, and Lyantonde, steady rains since mid-October have improved pasture availability. This has lead to improved livestock conditions, increasing pasture and water availability in these areas which saw deficits since August.
    • High regional demand for Ugandan maize in Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi is an important driver of observed maize grain price increases. Third quarter maize exports from Uganda to Kenya were 68 and 23 percent higher than the 2014 third quarter and the recent two-year average export levels for the third quarter, respectively. Moreover, market prices are expected to remain high, or increase further, due to increased transaction costs associated with increasing fuel costs, and the deteriorating state of feeder roads linking rural areas.
    • Despite seasonal increases in the prices of major staples between August and September, household food access remains normal. The wholesale price of cooking banana have increased seasonally with the end of harvests from Mbale, greater Mbarara, and western Uganda. However, the urban poor are able to purchase cheaper substitute staples. Declining supplies and local demand for maize and beans have resulted in price increases.
    • Food availability and incomes from usual livelihood activities are sufficient to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in bimodal areas. With the onset of second season rains, households are able to earn income through on-farm labor opportunities. Following the average to above-average first season harvests, households have adequate food stocks to last them through November, before the start of the new harvest. The seasonal increase in staple food prices, although earlier than usual, is not sufficient to deny poor households access to food. Poor households’ food access remains favorable with incomes from typical seasonal activities.
    • Below-average harvests and below-average seasonal incomes are continuing to result Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in Karamoja. Typically in Karamoja at this time, food availability is increased due to seasonal dry harvests for sorghum and other crops. However, due to below-average harvests, households have increased the intensity of typical coping strategies, including increasing firewood and charcoal sales, brewing, and consuming the alcohol residues. Nevertheless, increased competition on the labor market has reduced some households’ normal access to this income, decreasing household purchasing power and food access. Households that did not have any harvests are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity, but this number is likely less than the 20 percent of the population required to classify an area in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Between October 2015 and March 2015, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following key assumptions:

    • The October to December 2015 second season rains in bimodal areas are likely to be average to above average in terms of cumulative rainfall.
    • Above-average rainfall associated with El Nino between October and January in bimodal areas is likely to result in above-average production of most staples. However, some local crop losses are likely in flood-prone lowland areas due to water logging, increased incidence of pests and diseases, and extreme erosion.
    • Increased food availability and income from crop sales from second season harvests are expected from December through February 2016, and will provide households with the normal two to three months of food stocks.
    • Pasture and water resources in pastoral/livestock rearing areas will likely be above average from November to January with the anticipated above-average rainfall associated with El Nino. Livestock body conditions and milk production are likely to be average to above average throughout the scenario period.
    • Trading activities for staples in the country and across the region are expected to behave normally in January through March: second season supplies of maize, beans, and other staples at the national level are expected to meet the regional demand from Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Kenya without disrupting local supply.
    • Poor households in bimodal areas are likely to earn at least average seasonal incomes through typical livelihoods activities, including crop sales, casual agricultural labor, petty trade, and fishing, enabling them access to food and non-food needs.
    • Staple food prices will likely increase seasonally through November before the start of second season harvests, after which there will be a general decline in staple prices.
    • Further depreciation of the already weak Ugandan Shilling against the US Dollar is likely to cause further rises in imported fuel prices. Rising fuel prices, and worse than normal road conditions in November due to increased rainfall associated with El Nino, will likely increase transportation costs and put additional upward pressure on food prices.
    • Conditional cash and food transfers through the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF II) will continue through December. About 44,000 participants will receive cash for work or half rations.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Acute food insecurity outcomes for most bimodal areas of the country will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1). The October to December rains are likely to be favorable for agricultural production. Average to above-average second season harvests are expected from November through to January. The 2-3 weeks’ delay to the start of the second season is likely to postpone the arrival of green harvests, and subsequent household income and food supply to January. Above-average rainfall forecasted to last through January is likely to enhance the availability of green harvests from planting done in December. However, reduced crop production and higher post-harvest losses are expected in the flood prone areas of Teso, Southern Karamoja, Lango and Bukedi if water logging is excessive. People displaced by flooding in these areas and the mountainous areas of Rwenzori and Elgon will likely need food/relief assistance. However, declining staple food prices in the January/February post-harvest period, income and food from normal milk production and livestock sales, and a continuation of non-agricultural livelihood income activities such as petty trade, fishing, crafts, and casual labor is likely to favor food access for poor households. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected in most bimodal areas through March 2016. Below-average harvests in Karamoja will keep poor households Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and it is likely with the extended lean season that some households will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by March. Households will continue to intensify their use of coping strategies, including the sale of firewood and charcoal.

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.


    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1.  Arc2 satellite-estimated rainfall anomaly (mm), October 1-29

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Arc2 satellite-estimated rainfall anomaly (mm), October 1-29

    Source: NOAA/FEWS NET

    Figure 4


    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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