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Erratic rains threaten normal start of second season, minimal harvests start in Karamoja

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • September 2021
Erratic rains threaten normal start of second season, minimal harvests start in Karamoja

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Below-average and erratic seasonal rainfall from June to August resulted in significant rainfall deficits (55-85 percent of normal). However, by mid-September, moderate to locally heavy rains have eased the abnormally dry conditions, triggering pasture regeneration, and recharging water sources; spurring land preparation and planting in bimodal areas. Conversely, localized heavy rainfall has resulted in severe floods and water logging, most severe in Napak district, while landslides in parts of eastern Uganda and hailstorms coupled with destructive heavy winds have destroyed crops and houses in various districts. September-December rainfall is most likely to lead to a timely start of season, while cumulative rainfall is likely to be below average in the southern half of the country and near average in the northwestern half of the country.  A second consecutive season of below-normal crop production is likely in some areas, especially in northern Uganda.

    • In Karamoja, significantly delayed and below-normal main season crop harvests are not expected to improve household food availability and access to typical levels. This follows below average and erratic cumulative rainfall since April in which water logging and an unusually long dry spell negatively impacted crop growth. Additional flooding and water logging in September concentrated in Napak district displaced hundreds of people and destroyed sorghum fields. While the closure of weekly livestock markets was lifted, increased levels of insecurity associated with livestock raids likely to limit livestock movements and potential incomes. Nonetheless, pasture and water resources in Karamoja region are below average to average, supporting near-normal livestock body conditions and productivity.

    • In urban areas, livelihoods and income-earning opportunities have improved household incomes and access to food since the easing of the lockdown restrictions at the end of July. The urban population facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes has declined, although purchasing power remains low among some poor households due to pandemic-related reduced economic activity. In bimodal areas, staple food prices including maize grain, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and fresh cassava were stable or declined by 10-20 percent between August and September despite below-normal first season harvests. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes continue to prevail in rural bimodal areas. In Karamoja, however, a prolonged lean season, cut-off of the Mbale-Nakapiripirit route into Karamoja, below-normal harvests, and insecurity are driving up food prices while below-normal incomes from crop and livestock sales are constraining ability to purchase food. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely to persist through January.

    • At least 20 percent of the refugees in the settlements are currently facing slight to moderate food consumption gaps and engaging in negative livelihoods coping strategies after exhausting first season food stocks. Food prices are near normal but purchasing power among refugees is still below pre-COVID-19 levels. Early onset of second season rainfall is expected to increase farm and off-farm labor opportunities but at atypically low levels due to elevated chances of below average precipitation in October and November.  The on-going conflicts in South Sudan and DRC are expected to increase the refugee population by at least two percent by December even though borders remain officially closed. GFA is likely to be the main source of food/income source through December though below-average income and food sources are expected to sustain Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes through January 2022.

    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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