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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist for Refugees despite favorable second season harvest

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • January 2024
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist for Refugees despite favorable second season harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal areas, second season harvesting, drying, and storing activities are wrapping up in January. Above-average second season staple food production has increased household and market food stocks and access to income from crop sales, supporting Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. In January, atypically dry conditions characterized by cumulative average to below-average off-season precipitation have negatively impacted vegetation and pasture conditions in the central, western, and northern regions amid average to above-average rainfall in the east. In eastern Uganda, some farmers with access to tractors are already plowing and preparing land for 2024's first season of cultivation. Farmers reliant on hand hoes for land preparation will likely use the light to moderate off-season rains to begin preparing their land for the March to May season. Forecasted above-average and on-time March to May rainfall is expected to support improved vegetation conditions, favorable first season cultivation, and average to above-average agricultural labor demand.
    • In Karamoja, households continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes amid an early onset of the lean season in January. However, the number of acutely food insecure households has reduced slightly compared to last January due to the reduced staple prices associated with the increased food supply from the Acholi sub-region and cash interventions by the Parish Development Model (PDM) government program and other NGOs. While food prices have declined, income-generating activities remain limited in Karamoja, constraining household purchasing power among highly purchase-reliant households for food. A rapid food security assessment conducted by FEWS NET in January found that income from firewood sales is lower than in January 2022 or 2023 due to high market saturation, which has decreased prices. In Moroto, Napak, and Kaabong, the firewood-to-sorghum terms of trade were highly unfavorable, ranging from 52 to 59 percent lower than the five-year average in December. Additionally, income from charcoal sales is below average due to governmental restrictions on charcoal-making. Despite the decline in moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) cases since October 2023 in Karamoja, MAM cases seasonally increased between November and December 2023 from 7,112 to 8,043, as the lean season establishes. 
    • Above-average second season harvests and low regional grain demand from deficit-producing countries supported stable staple food prices in most of Uganda. In December, the retail price of beans seasonally declined by 6 to 13 percent compared to November, although remains 6 to 17 percent higher than last year, given the limited supplies following below-average national production in 2023. Meanwhile, retail prices for maize and sorghum were stable month-on-month, primarily due to the increased grain supply from western and central Uganda. In Tororo, Soroti, and Arua markets, maize and sorghum prices were 9 to 38 percent lower in December 2023 compared to December 2022. Overall, staple food prices are expected to remain stable or decline in most bimodal areas through March before seasonally increasing in April with the reduced market supply and increased regional demand by Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Despite seasonal fluctuations, most staples – except beans – will likely remain below 2023 levels through May. The reduced staple food prices and slightly improved agricultural and casual labor demand are expected to continue supporting Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes for urban households through May. 
    • Refugees in settlements in Uganda are expected to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May despite above-average national second season cereal harvests. Due to limited household access to inputs and land, most refugees’ own-produced food stocks are reportedly exhausted in January, resulting in atypically high post-harvest reliance on market purchases and livelihood-based coping strategies to access food. Despite the stable or declining food prices, key informants have reported that high competition for labor continues to limit household purchasing power, and many poor households are surviving on only one meal per day. Following the reduction in food assistance in July 2023, refugee households have reported a breakdown in social support networks and increasing distrust between refugees across different vulnerability categories, as well as rising tensions between host and refugee communities. Additionally, livelihood coping strategies, such as borrowing money and food, have become less available as households exhaust their creditworthiness, resulting in the increasing reliance on theft, child labor, and prostitution to access food. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Uganda Key Message Update January 2024: Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist for Refugees despite favorable second season harvest, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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