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In bimodal areas, the January dry season has been hotter and drier than normal, especially in the greater north and northeast. In mid-January, unexpected light to locally moderate rains interrupted the dry conditions countrywide— temporarily recharging minimal water resources and supporting land preparation activities—but overall dry conditions persist in most areas. Production of most staples in the 2021 second season harvest—which concluded in early January—was below average, with household and market food stocks generally lower than usual. While crop production is supporting most farming households in central and southwestern Uganda, crop production was worse in northern Uganda, also reducing households’ income from crop sales. As such, many households’ ability to afford non-food items is expected to be constrained, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes likely widespread in northern Uganda. In other bimodal areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to prevail through May.
In Karamoja, Teso, and Lango regions as well as in the greater north, pasture and water availability are generally significantly below average due to early cessation of below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures since late 2021. In Karamoja, sustained insecurity related to livestock raids and thefts is constraining livestock migration to and from dry season grazing areas within Karamoja and neighboring districts, and atypical deterioration of livestock body conditions is likely in areas lacking water resources. However, in the cattle corridor districts in parts of central and southwestern Uganda, near average pasture and water resources are supporting better livestock conditions compared to the greater north. Given a revised forecast for above-average rainfall across the country, pasture conditions and water availability are expected to be restored to normal levels by March/April, with corresponding improvement in livestock productivity.
In December 2021, prices of beans, cooking bananas, and cassava were stable compared to November across most monitored markets, and at levels below the five-year average. However, prices of cereals like millet, sorghum, and maize are above 2021 and five-year average levels, driven in part by below-average household and market stocks, high domestic demand prompted by the reopening of schools, regional demand following poor harvests in Kenya, and atypically high fuel prices that have impacted transportation costs since December. In Karamoja, most households are expected to have exhausted food stocks following the poor harvests and, while food is available in markets, declining purchasing power is limiting food access and driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In March/April, seasonal agricultural labor opportunities will slightly improve access to income for some households in areas where the rains start on time and where soil is not over-saturated, though access to seeds remains an additional concern for planting given the previous poor season.
According to the UNHCR/OPM, the number of refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda increased by about 113,287 (7.8 percent) in 2021 (the second year of borders being closed to refugees due to the pandemic) to reach an estimated 1,563,604 as of November 30, 2021. Most refugees are now expected to have depleted stocks of food from own production following below-average harvests in 2021. Given this and reduced humanitarian food assistance rations—which have been providing 40-70 percent of kilocalorie needs since November—an increasing number of households are likely to face consumption gaps through May/June 2022 when the next harvest starts. Though above-average rainfall is projected in the March-May first season and the recent lifting of all movement restrictions will improve access to income, restoration of normal livelihoods compared to the pre-COVID period is unlikely in the short term. The number likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the presence of assistance is expected to remain under 20 percent of the refugee population, with assistance supporting Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes at the area-level. However, more widespread severe outcomes would be expected in the absence of assistance.
This Key Message Update provides a broad summary of FEWS NET's current and projected analysis of likely acute food insecurity outcomes in this geography. Learn more about our work here.