As has been found in previous food security assessments, there continues to be widespread household food insecurity across Karamoja. The low agricultural productivity across Karmoja is a well-documented fact.
In summary, the main causes of household food insecurity across the region can be attributed to a reduced access to food (in particular non-staples), a result of (1) lack of sufficient livelihood and income generating options at the household level (2) high food prices which are a result of supply – demand imbalances which is further exacerbated by the lack of sufficient food being produced (availability) in the area.
The above factors naturally result in inadequate food consumption and poor dietary diversity for large sections of the population. Poor nutritional status amongst children is a result of (a) a combination of high incidence of fever, malaria, diarrhoea, poor sanitation facilities, lack of Vitamin A supplementation and (b) poor dietary diversity (rather than a lack of food per se).
Food Access: The lack of employment opportunities and the inability of most Households (HH) to generate sufficient income:
(a) Across the sample it was seen that approximately 21% of households were headed by women. This is an extremely high figure and implies that close to one fourth of the households depend on women to simultaneously source incomes and run the household.
(b) The average size of the household was 6, with only one income earner; and a high percentage of dependents (children and the elderly)
(c) In Kaabong, Nakapiririt and amongst the Extremely Vulnerable House (EVH) group nearly half the households rely on borrowing and / or food assistance; both are unsustainable activities and can be regarded as coping mechanisms rather than income generating activities.
(d) Furthermore 22% of households reported no income earner – this is unsurprising given the number of female headed households as well as the high dependency ratio. The highest percentage of these households was seen in Kaabong, Nakapiripirit, and Amudat; and amongst the EVH group.
(e) On average, food accounted for over 70% of a household’s expense; the remaining 30% of a household’s expenses covering health, education, inputs for farming and basic necessities.
(f) Approximately half the sample (49%) reported currently being in debt and needing to repay their loan.
(g) Seventy percent of these households undertake debt mainly to meet food needs (by definition a short term objective) and not to achieve longer term goals such as to help start a business or be used as an investment (buying land, livestock). There is a very high risk of the majority of household being trapped in a debt cycle since expenditure on food is a constant.
Food Availability: The inability of landowners to increase the low agricultural productivity:
(a) Farming, as currently practiced, is largely unproductive both in terms of providing food and incomes to households. The result is that households are unable to increase food availability.
(b) The low agricultural productivity is largely a result of drought/low rainfall.
For more than 60% of farmers across Karamoja this is the single biggest factor adversely affecting agriculture followed by lack of access to key agricultural inputs.
(c) The fact that only 13% of households are able to meet their cereal, tuber and vegetable needs from cultivation underlines the fact that agriculture productivity remains a concern.
Food Consumption, Utilization & Nutritional Status:
(a) Forty percent (40%) of the sample can be classified as being ‘Borderline’ and 26% as ‘Poor’. In other words, two-thirds of the households across Karamoja region depict inadequate food consumption.
(b) A clear deterioration of food consumption patterns across Karamoja is seen in the period February to June 2014. In this time, the percentage of households with Adequate or Acceptable food consumption has decreased by more than 10%; and there has been a proportional increase in households depicting Borderline food consumption. If the problem is not addressed, there will be a further worsening of the situation resulting in the percentage of households with Poor food consumption gradually increasing as households slide from Acceptable to Borderline to Poor.
(c) Between 40 – 50% of the sampled households resort to practicing coping strategies such as resorting to spending their savings, borrowing money, begging and consuming seed stock meant for the next season. More crucially a sizeable percentage of households report practicing extreme coping strategies such as consuming seed stock and begging.
Note: The design of the questionnaire did not permit more information related to the consumption of seed stock to be collected; and it is recommended that WFP field offices look further at this aspect.
(d) The wasting prevalence in most of the districts is serious (>10%) and Moroto has the highest prevalence of wasting (22.2%), categorized as critical. Indeed the prevalence of wasting is nearly triple that of the national average.
(e) The highest prevalence of underweight (severely wasted and wasted) among mothers is seen in Amudat, Napak and Kaabong districts.
(f) The fact that 10% of the sample obtains their drinking water from unprotected sources combined with the fact that 65% of the households have no latrines facilities has severe potential health risks. Particularly in Amudat, Moroto and Napak.