FEWS Uganda Food Security Update Sep 2005 - Recent harvests ensure adequate food security
SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS
Recent harvests are helping to ensure adequate food security across most of Uganda. Mortality and malnutrition rates have declined in internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) camps in Gulu District, but non-food assistance is still needed. The start of the harvest in Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts (Karamoja Region) is gradually augmenting market supplies, improving household food access and food security. The pipeline for the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 10121.1 is well supplied to meet food needs for vulnerable populations through October. Despite the reduced demand for food aid, WFP still faces a shortfall of 31,630 MT for November and December 2005.
- Lower than normal rainfall may limit production in southwestern Uganda.
- Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and Lira districts in northern Uganda continue to face precarious food security due to the ongoing civil insecurity.
- Prices remain higher than the five year average for many crops.
FOOD SECURITY IN AT RISK AREAS
Harvests to improve food security in Karamoja
Seasonal harvests are replenishing stocks and ensuring adequate household food access and food security in Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts, where market supplies are also improving. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there are pockets of food insecurity in parts of Masaka and Rakai districts. An assessment was conducted in September by non government organizations, but they have yet to provide their results.
Nutrition conditions of IDPs improving in northern Uganda
Results of another malnutrition study carried out in Gulu district, northern Uganda by Action Against Hunger-USA (ACF-USA) in June 2005 provides further evidence that conditions are improving in the district’s IDP population. Accordingly, Crude Mortality Rate (CMR) was found to be 0.8/10,000/day (down from 1.2/10,000/day in a 2004 survey), calculated retrospectively for three months prior to the survey (April to June 2005). Anthropometric analysis revealed Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of 4.1 percent [95% CI 2.6 - 6.4%], declining since 2001. A Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate of 1.2 percent [95% CI 0.5% - 2.8%] is still a concern, but is lower than last year. In Apac District, malnutrition rates are generally acceptable, but CMR rates of 1.4/10,000/day are serious. The improvement in GAM and SAM rates was attributed to the reduction in rebel activity that has allowed humanitarian organizations’ access to provide non food assistance. Nonetheless, the population remains at high risk unless there are improvements in water, sanitation, and health services, shelter, and food access.
SLOW SECOND SEASON CULTIVATION
In bimodal districts, second season crop sowing normally begins in early August, just before or shortly after the start of early rains. This year, widespread dry conditions over many parts of the southern half of Uganda up to the end of August limited land preparation and delayed a majority of farmers’ cultivation activities. The start of second season rains in early September has provided sufficient moisture to enable farmers begin cultivating crops, mainly cereals, pulses and oil crops, such as ground nuts.
As a consequence of the delayed start of seasonal rains and variable soil moisture, mixed crop conditions are observed in the field, ranging from no crops sown, through germination, to just below knee-level. As has been the case in the recent past, this staggered cropping will mean that farmers will be harvesting at different times over a comparatively longer period than normal, with no clear end to the second season.
Officials at the Department of Agriculture and humanitarian and non government organizations working in Gulu, Kitgum, Lira and Pader districts report well distributed rainfall since early August. Nonetheless, civil insecurity in these districts continues to limit many households’ access to fields, preventing them from cultivating crops, and only a few households have been able to access land and sow crops.
The 16th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from August 31-September 2, to derive a consensus forecast for September to December 2005 for East Africa. Following the meeting, the Uganda Department of Meteorology refined the regional forecast for Ugandan conditions, predicting increased likelihood (higher probability) of normal to below normal rainfall over most of southwestern, central, eastern and northeastern Uganda as well as parts of the Lake Victoria Basin. Normal to above-normal is forecast for some parts of central, most of western, northern and northwestern Uganda. The department further indicates that peak rains are expected starting late September in most of the southern half of the country. Figure 1 is an approximate representation of the forecast.
If the forecast holds, normal rains will be sufficient to ensure at least a normal harvest across the country. The tendency towards below normal rainfall may affect main season production of major staple crops in southwestern Uganda (Bushenyi, Kabale, Kanungu, Kisoro, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Rukungiri districts). Below normal rainfall will also affect production in the minor, supplementary season in eastern Uganda. In northeastern Uganda, the dry season begins in October, and the forecast is of less consequence for crop and livestock production.
Normal market supplies, minimal price drops
Anecdotal information from commercial crop traders indicates that food supplies are at normal levels in Uganda’s main district markets, boosted by the first season harvest. However, traders report that although commodities are available in the markets, prices have only minimally declined, and sales volumes are comparatively lower than during similar periods in previous years. Prices remain higher than the five year average for many crops.