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Rising prices continue to constrain food access as recent rainfall deficits threaten crop progress

  • Key Message Update
  • Uganda
  • September 2022
Rising prices continue to constrain food access as recent rainfall deficits threaten crop progress

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  • Mensajes Clave
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    • Across most bimodal areas, cumulative rainfall in the September to November second rainy season has been near average to date as of September 30. However, across much of the Central region, cumulative rainfall has totaled only around 60-90 percent of normal, and rainfall received has been erratic. Though recent rainfall has generally supported ploughing and planting for the second season, rainfall since mid-September has been below average across bimodal areas. This has caused moisture stress on crops still in the germinating and early vegetative stages and has delayed planting for some farmers. Meanwhile, localized heavy rainfall, hailstorms, flooding, and landslides in August and September have affected tens of thousands of people in the Elgon, Southwestern, Lango, and West Nile subregions.

    • In most monitored markets in bimodal areas, prices of sorghum, maize, and beans generally increased slightly from July to August 2022, reaching levels 30-60 percent higher than at the same time last year and significantly higher than the five-year average. Elevated food prices are being driven largely by significantly above-average fuel prices and resultant high transportation costs, below-average domestic stocks following consecutive below-average harvests, and above-average regional demand for Ugandan exports. Staple food prices are expected to continue increasing through December before the second season harvest boosts household and market supplies. However, prices of many essential non-food commodities will likely remain elevated. Prices of imported goods including fuel and agricultural inputs will likely be worst-affected due to depreciation of the currency, though this will in turn put additional upward pressure on prices of other goods. The national average annual inflation rate increased to 10 percent in September, and is projected to increase further.

    • Below-average first season bimodal harvests have resulted in reduced food availability for many subsistence farming households and reduced market supply of some staples, with high prices constraining poor households’ ability to meet their needs in both rural and urban areas. In the greater north, Teso, and parts of Central Uganda where crop production was worst affected, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through the start of the second season harvest in November/December. During this time, very poor households impacted by below-normal crop production, reduced income-earning, and below-average purchasing power are likely to continue experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected in other bimodal areas, with the poorest households likely facing worse outcomes.

    • In Karamoja, the slight improvement in food availability from meagre harvests and humanitarian food and nutrition assistance interventions is supporting minimal improvement in food consumption for some poor households. However, many poor households are not benefiting, as crop production is expected to be significantly below normal and the coverage of humanitarian programs—though increasing—remains inadequate relative to high levels of need. At the same time, ongoing insecurity continues to constrain income-earning and marketing/trading activities. Increased prices for charcoal and firewood in August in combination with temporary declines in sorghum prices in some markets have and slightly and temporarily improved terms of trade and food access for the few poor households who can benefit from firewood and charcoal sales. However, staple sorghum prices remained 62-100 percent higher than prices recorded at the same time last year and are expected to increase further in the coming months. Overall, many poor households are likely to continue facing consumption gaps, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to persist through to January.

    • As of September 15, 2022, more than 69,983 refugees from the DRC and more than 33,558 from South Sudan had arrived in Uganda since the start of 2022, according to UNHCR/OPM, further stretching limited resources for humanitarian assistance. WFP continues to expand the implementation of a re-prioritization system among refugees, in which those households assessed to be most vulnerable within a settlement will receive monthly rations equivalent to 70 percent of their total energy needs, while those assessed to be relatively less vulnerable will receive 40 percent. Despite some ongoing improvements in assistance targeting, below-average income-earning and above-average staple food prices are expected to continue constraining food access for many refugee households. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level in the presence of significant assistance. However, many worst-affected households are likely to face consumption gaps, with inadequate food intake expected to continue to contribute to atypically high rates of acute malnutrition.

    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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