Uganda + 2 more

GIEWS Country Brief: Uganda 16-January-2020



  • Above-average 2019 second season harvest expected in bi-modal rainfall areas due to abundant precipitation

  • Torrential rains since October triggered floods in some eastern and western districts, affecting about 300 000 people

  • Reduced crop production in uni-modal Karamoja Region due to below-average planted area

  • Abundant seasonal rains benefitted pastoral livelihoods

  • Prices of maize increased to very high levels amidst tight supplies, sustained exports and high transport costs

  • Improving food security situation in Karamoja Region due to above-average availability of livestock products

Above‑average 2019 second season cereal harvest expected in bi‑modal rainfall areas

In bi‑modal rainfall areas covering most of the country (except the agropastoral uni‑modal rainfall Karamoja Region in the northeast), harvesting of 2019 second season crops is underway and will be completed in late January. The October‑December rainy season was characterized by abundant precipitations throughout the cropping period, with cumulative seasonal rains estimated at 40‑80 percent above the long‑term average over most cropping areas. The heavy precipitation had a positive impact on crop establishment and development, illustrated by good vegetation conditions across the country (see ASI map), and an above‑average crop production is expected. However, the torrential rains triggered flooding and landslides in eastern Mount Elgon subregion and in southwestern Ntoroko, Bundibugyo, Kisoro and Kalungu districts, affecting about 300 000 people and causing crop losses and damage to infrastructure. Persisting heavy rains until December 2019 have hampered drying and storage of cereals and pulses, resulting in above‑average post‑harvest losses, while heavily saturated soils resulted in localized damage to root crops, including cassava, sweet potatoes and groundnuts.

Earlier in the year, the first season harvest was concluded in August with a one‑month delay and was estimated to be 10‑15 percent below average, as severe dryness during March and most of April 2019 resulted in widespread germination failures and in a significant contraction of planted area.

Total cereal production for 2019 is put at about 3.5 million tonnes, about 2 percent below the average output obtained in 2018.

Reduced and delayed harvest gathered in Karamoja Region

In the uni‑modal rainfall agropastoral Karamoja Region, the April‑September rainy season did not fully establish until mid‑May, substantially delaying planting. Torrential rains in June offset the moisture deficits, but hindered ploughing and sowing activities in some areas. As a result, the planted area declined to below‑average levels, also due to the limited amounts of cereal seeds that most households were able to retain from the poor 2018 harvest. Average to above‑average rains between June and September 2019 benefited yields, but unseasonal precipitations in October and November disrupted cereal harvesting, drying and storage. The harvest of sorghum, the main cereal grown in the area, was concluded in several areas in December with about two months of delay and production is estimated at 20‑30 percent below average.

Abundant seasonal rains benefiting pastoral livelihoods

In agropastoral areas of the Cattle Corridor, the abundant October‑December 2019 rains have resulted in ample water and pasture availability, benefiting both intensive and free‑range livestock production systems. As a result of above‑average animal body conditions, both meat and milk production increased to above‑average levels. Similarly, in Karamoja Region, abundant rains since August led to the complete recharge of water points and benefited pasture availability, resulting in above‑average animal conditions and milk production. Due to the ample availability of rangeland resources, livestock migration to dry‑season grazing areas, typically beginning in November, has been substantially delayed and may not occur at all this year, with the proximity of herds to homesteads significantly improving household milk availability.

Maize prices increased to very high levels

Prices of maize declined by 20‑35 percent between July and September in all monitored markets, including the capital, Kampala, as the first season harvest increased market availabilities. Subsequently, prices surged by up to 50 percent between September and November, with seasonal patterns compounded by increased transport costs and trade disruptions caused by torrential rains. November prices were at very high levels, up to twice their year‑earlier values, mainly due to a tight domestic supply situation following the below‑average first season harvest coupled with sustained export demand from Kenya and South Sudan.

Despite below‑average cereal output, food security conditions improve in Karamoja Region

The country is generally food secure, with food insecurity at minimal levels in most bi‑modal rainfall areas, where the ongoing above‑average second season harvest is expected to maintain stable food security conditions. However, in the areas affected by floods and landslides, due to crop and livestock losses, poor households are currently facing IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” food security conditions, with a minimally adequate food consumption and are unable to meet some essential non‑food needs.

In the agropastoral Karamoja Region, food security conditions have recently improved from IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” to IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” due to the availability of the recently harvested crops. Although the below‑average crop production will result in an earlier‑than‑usual depletion of household cereal stocks, the above‑average availability of livestock products will maintain a stable food security situation and the lean season is expected to begin as usual in March.

As of end‑November 2019, the country hosted about 1.38 million refugees, including about 860 000 people from South Sudan and about 398 000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During 2019, about 96 000 South Sudanese refugees returned to South Sudan due to an improved security situation following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in September 2018. By contrast, about 83 000 new refugee arrivals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo were recorded during 2019, mainly due to heightened violence in eastern areas since mid‑2019.