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Below-average rainfall likely to impact production and reduce expected improvements in food security

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • March 2022
Below-average rainfall likely to impact production and reduce expected improvements in food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In most bimodal areas, the start of the first rainy season in March was delayed, though the southern and Lake Victoria regions observed a somewhat early onset of its seasonal rains in mid to late February. Across the country, rainfall to date has been significantly below average, with deficits forecast to reach between 25-100 mm (leading to cumulative rainfall totals 30-90 percent of the long-term average) across most of the country by April 10. Of greatest concern is the northern half of the country, which is yet to realise the full establishment of the rainy season and where soil moisture is below average in many areas, and the eastern half of the country where rainfall deficits are largest. Though above-average rainfall is forecast in April and for the rest of the season, the likelihood of deficits being fully compensated is reducing as deficits grow. Additionally, given the forecast for localized heavy rainfall in April, an elevated risk of mudslides and flash floods exists in the flood-prone slopes of Mt. Elgon, northern Uganda, Teso, Rwenzori, southwest sub-regions, and parts of Karamoja.

    • Given rainfall in March, planting has not been completed in eastern and the greater northern Uganda, while crops that have been planted are currently experiencing poor germination and moisture stress. Overall, planting is abnormally delayed for an estimated 45 percent of farmers in Uganda, including for some who planted following rain in February but will have to replant due to wilting or poor germination in March. This is expected to result in delayed and reduced production of cereal and legumes, especially in northern Uganda including the Karamoja region. Due to dry conditions and, in some areas, above-average temperatures, below-average vegetation conditions are currently widespread according to satellite-based vegetation data, and parts of central and northern Uganda are experiencing water shortages for livestock and human consumption. Some improvements in cropping and in pasture and water availability are expected in April.

    • Prices of food and non-food commodities have increased in February and, even more rapidly, in March, driven by seasonal declines in below-average stocks of major staples, increased domestic demand due to full reopening of economic activity, rising global and domestic fuel prices, higher costs of imported raw materials, and global trade disruptions linked to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In February 2022, annual headline inflation stood at 3.2 percent, compared to 2.7 percent in January. Rising prices are likely to constrain food access and increase the number of poor urban households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Given below-average agricultural production and income-earning last year, some farmers in northern Uganda and Karamoja are unlikely to be able to afford the increased prices of agricultural inputs, constraining their ability to restore their farming livelihoods this season. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to remain widespread in northern Uganda through June. In Karamoja, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to prevail through July/August before seasonal harvests take place and staple price decline. Elsewhere, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to prevail through June.

    • According to UNHCR/OPM, the number of new monthly arrivals of refugees and asylum seekers was 57 percent higher in February compared to January, with the total number in Uganda reaching an estimated 1,595,405 as of February 28, 2022. More recently, in March, a surge of refugees entered Uganda (through the Bunagana border of Kisoro District) from the North Kivu areas while fleeing recent fighting. Many refugee households have been equally impacted by high prices of food and non-food commodities and, for farming households, by the delayed start to the rainy season in parts of northern Uganda and constrained access to inputs. As such, the refugee households will likely experience a delayed start of harvests. Given this and the 40-70 percent ration reductions in November 2021, an increasing number of households are likely to face consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through June before the next harvest starts. However, available information suggests that this number is expected to remain under 20 percent of the overall refugee population, with assistance supporting Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes at the area-level. More widespread severe outcomes would be expected in the absence of assistance.

    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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