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Second-season harvests improve food access in bimodal areas

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • November 2023
Second-season harvests improve food access in bimodal areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In bimodal areas, second season rains – which started on time in October – have generally continued at above-average levels, ranging from 90 to 200 percent of the long-term average across most of the country as of November 20. However, from November 1 to 20, in parts of the north, cumulative rainfall ranged from 30 to 75 percent of average. Overall, second season rainfall has supported favorable crop growth. During a food security and markets assessment in mid-November, FEWS NET observed that second season crops are generally in the reproductive or early maturation stages for green harvest consumption. However, according to key informants, localized heavy rainfall has caused waterlogging and flooding, particularly in Packwach, Ntoroko, Amuru, Mubende, Kyankwanzi, Kakumiro, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Butaleja, and West Nile. The flooding has damaged infrastructure, inundated croplands, and displaced populations. Above-average rainfall forecasted through December is likely to damage maturing legume crops, and there remains an elevated risk of landslides in the flood-prone areas of Elgon and Rwenzori. In November, with the increased availability of the early green harvest and reduced market prices, food availability and access have improved to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in bimodal areas. 
    • The atypically low regional demand for Ugandan grains, in conjunction with the early availability of second season green harvests – including beans and maize – in parts of central and southwestern Uganda, has resulted in atypically low food prices in October and November. According to Farmgain price data, in October, retail maize prices were 20 to 26 percent lower than last year at the same time, although 5 to 10 percent higher than the five-year average prices. Similarly, sorghum prices ranged from 31 to 38 percent below 2022 and 7 to 52 percent above the five-year average. Meanwhile, the retail price of beans was 9 to 22 percent higher than last year and 37 to 49 percent higher than the five-year average in bimodal markets, likely due to consecutive poor bean harvests and the damage of excess rainfall on legume crops. The improved seasonal abundance of other food crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, and various fruits and vegetables is also moderating food prices and increasing financial access to food for the urban poor. 
    • In Karamoja, the below-average 2023 harvests are beginning to exhaust for households, and many will likely be entirely purchase-reliant for food by December. The increased supply of staple foods with the bimodal green harvest in surrounding areas has supported stable market prices in Moroto and Nakapiripirit and a 14 percent decline in Kotido between September and October. According to Farmgain, in several major markets in Karamoja in October, the price of sorghum was 14 to 37 percent lower than last October. However, in Abim, Kaabong, and Napak markets, the price of sorghum remained elevated, increasing by 8 to 25 percent from September to October due to the considerably below-average sorghum production in Karamoja. Overall, staple prices remained well above the five-year average. Livestock, charcoal, and firewood prices have all increased, supporting marginal improvements in the terms of trade compared to last year and improvements in financial access to food for poor households. Food purchases are also being supplemented by safety net programs by WFP. However, households continue to face food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, which are expected to be sustained through May 2024. 
    • Early green harvests and declining staple food prices have slightly improved food availability and eased financial access to food among refugees in settlements. However, in November in Adjumani refugee settlements in West Nile region, more than 4,000 refugees were displaced due to flooding following torrential rainfall. The floods disrupted livelihood activities and damaged some cropland. Additionally, in November, civilian-targeted attacks in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo displaced over 1,000 individuals to Bundibugyo district, Uganda. As of November 30, 90,418 refugees have arrived in Uganda. Following the implementation of the needs-based re-prioritization of food assistance in July, WFP and UNHCR reported that 21,736 refugees appealed their assigned category between July and October. Roughly 5 percent of the refugee appeal claims have resulted in a change in the assigned category, mostly shifting households from Category 3 (no food assistance) to Category 2 (30 percent rations per person per month), which will go into effect in December 2023. Refugees in settlements continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to limited financial access to food, high competition for few labor opportunities, and limited access to land for cultivation, amid reduced humanitarian food assistance rations.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Uganda Key Message Update November 2023: Second-season harvests improve food access in bimodal areas, 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.

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