Uganda + 2 more

Uganda Key Message Update: Atypical food insecurity worsens nationwide as prices rise during poor production year, July 2022

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Key Messages

  • In bimodal areas, poor rainfall has resulted in below-average first season crop production. In many northern, central, southwestern, and eastern areas, maize has wilted and dried up more extensively in June and July, leading to estimated losses of at least 30 percent. Abnormal dryness exacerbated by above-average temperatures has also impacted other annual and perennial crops. This poor production season follows two consecutive below-average harvests in 2021. Given this and significantly above-average prices, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in the greater north and Teso, and a rapidly growing number of households in central Uganda are also experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

  • As of mid-July, significantly below-average vegetation conditions persist over most districts of the cattle corridor in the southwest, central, and northern parts of Uganda. Livestock body conditions and milk productivity are reportedly below average with severely affected areas facing severe shortages of pasture and water already. Given the forecast for another below-average rainy season from September to November 2022, typical restoration of pasture and water resources is unlikely, and second season crop production is expected to be below average. As such, subsistence households are expected to continue experiencing below-average food availability from crop and livestock production and constrained food access through at least January 2023, even during the July to September 2022 post-harvest period.

  • In Karamoja, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected, with an increasing number of the poorest households likely facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes characterized by severely inadequate food intake and widening food consumption gaps. Normally in July, the local green sorghum harvest and other dry foods harvested from neighboring areas increase household and markets supplies in Karamoja, ending the lean season. However, this year, the harvest is expected to be delayed and significantly below-average in August/September. Across Karamoja reference markets, retail prices for sorghum grain increased by 17-26 percent from May to June, and prices of staple foods and other goods are significantly above average. At the same time, worsening insecurity this year has disrupted livelihoods and led to losses of livestock and other assets, and agricultural labor opportunities have been below average. This follows three consecutive years of below-average crop production, which has eroded households’ ability to cope.

  • In Karamoja, available evidence suggests growing populations of malnourished children and elderly people. The WFP continues to provide food and nutrition support in the form of school meals, supplementary feeding, and therapeutic treatment of malnourished children. Meanwhile, Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister is providing food assistance to vulnerable households for three months beginning in July. Additionally, in mid-July, 82 million USD of new donor funding was announced to support the emergency needs of the people of Uganda, including food and nutrition support to more than 83,000 people in Karamoja, though details are forthcoming.

  • Ugandan staples continue to be attractive to importers from Kenya and South Sudan amidst tight supplies. Though Uganda’s supplies have likely been somewhat bolstered by maize imports from Malawi and Zambia and beans from Rwanda (via Tanzania), this significant regional demand is reducing market stocks to very low levels in many areas, putting additional upward pressure on domestic prices. From January to June 2022, the price of beans has increased by 22 percent in eastern Uganda, 32-47 percent in northern Uganda, and 20-31 percent in western Uganda. In the same time period, the retail price of maize grain increased 30-47 percent across the eastern, northern, and western regions. Prices of staple commodities are expected to remain above levels recorded last year and the five-year average through at least January 2023, given unfavorable second season production prospects. According to the Bank of Uganda’s July 2022 Monetary Policy Statement, the annual headline inflation rate increased from 6.3 percent in May to 6.8 percent in June and is now forecast to increase further, averaging 7.4 percent in 2022. Since May, the Uganda shilling has also been depreciating.

  • According to UNHCR/OPM, as of mid-July, 79,274 refugees and asylum seekers (24,004 from South Sudan and 55,270 from the DRC) have arrived in Uganda since the start of 2022. Settled refugee households receive full rations of humanitarian food assistance for the first three months, and thereafter refugees receive humanitarian food assistance rations equivalent to an estimated 40, 60, or 70 percent of households’ total energy needs. However, below-average income-earning and above-average and rising prices are expected to continue driving declining purchasing power throughout the projection period. Additionally, given below-average first season crop production, stocks from the harvests will likely be depleted in less than a month. A growing number of refugee households will likely be unable to meet all food and essential non-food needs, with Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes expected to persist until the next harvest in January, supported by significant assistance, though with an increasing number of households likely facing consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, especially in settlements where assistance rations are 40-60 percent. However, in mid-July, more than 61 million USD and 6 million EUR of new donor funding was announced to support the provision of food and non-food assistance to refugees, though details are forthcoming.