Skip to main content

Delayed harvest in Karamoja prolongs lean season, sustaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3)

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • July 2023
Delayed harvest in Karamoja prolongs lean season, sustaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3)

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In eastern, northern, and parts of central bimodal areas of Uganda, erratic rainfall distribution and moisture stress have led to a below-average first season harvest thus far, which normally occurs from June to August. After the erratic March to May rains delayed planting, sustained localized low soil moisture in June and July has negatively affected crops in the late development stage, such as millet, simsim, and sorghum. While the harvest of some first season crops, including cassava and sweet potatoes, began in June, below-average cereal and legume production is expected to continue through August. Consequently, rural bimodal households in the greater north and eastern sub-regions of Teso and Bukedi have atypically low food stocks for this time of year and below-average income from crop sales for July with only minimally adequate food consumption and are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • In Karamoja, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in July, with the worst affected households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, characterized by reliance on severe coping strategies and wide food consumption gaps. In July, cumulative rainfall was 45 to 75 percent of the long-term average, negatively impacting the grain filling and maturation stages of sorghum growth. While the lean season typically ends in July with the onset of the green and dry harvests, poor rainfall and production constraints have delayed the harvest, which is anticipated to begin in August at below-average levels. However, some localized access to green harvests in July is driving a small seasonal decline in sorghum prices. While staple food prices in Karamoja remain high and well above the five-year averages, the relative value of firewood in purchasing staple foods has improved by 16 to 35 percent in June, slightly improving access to food. However, ongoing insecurity in the Karamoja sub-region and neighboring districts is disrupting livelihoods, driving some households to migrate to Soroti, Mbale, and Kampala in search of food and income. Poor household purchasing power and deteriorated coping capacity continue to limit food consumption and dietary diversity.

    • Amid the ongoing below-average first season harvest in bimodal areas, staple food prices remained relatively stable month-on-month, decreasing by up to 13 percent between May and June in some areas due to the seasonal increase in food availability and return to normal market demand. The seasonal decrease in food prices has likely contributed to the continued decline in headline inflation, which hit a 15-month low in July at 3.9 percent, down from 10.4 percent in January. Food inflation also continued to decrease in July, largely due to the first season harvest, including cooking bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, and vegetables, and the easing of diesel prices, reducing transport costs. However, the below-average production surplus and the high regional demand for Uganda’s staples are expected to keep food prices higher than last year and the five-year average through November. In June, staple prices were 24 to 42 percent higher than last June and 19 to 115 percent above the five-year average prices, limiting food access.

    • As of July 31, Uganda hosts roughly 1.56 million refugees, with nearly 36,000 new arrivals between January and late July 2023. In mid-July, WFP began implementing its needs-based re-prioritization of humanitarian food assistance in refugee settlements. Highly vulnerable refugee populations receive 60 percent rations, moderately vulnerable refugee populations receive 30 percent rations, and the refugees determined to be self-sufficient for food no longer receive food assistance. While food prices have remained relatively stable between May and June in refugee settlements, bean prices have increased by roughly 50 percent year-on-year since June 2022 in northern settlements, and in southwest settlements, maize prices are roughly 24 to 43 percent higher than in June 2022, respectively. Households receiving cash-based assistance and who are heavily purchase-dependent for food have deteriorated purchasing power and reduced coping capacity, given the sustained high food prices, high competition for labor, and eroded relations with some host communities. Given the sizable reduction in food assistance amid limited access to food and income sources, refugee households are likely facing moderate food consumption gaps typical of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Uganda Key Message Update July 2023: Delayed harvest in Karamoja prolongs lean season, sustaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3), 2023.

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top