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Uganda Key Message Update: Despite improved rains in Karamoja, delayed and below-normal harvests expected, July 2021

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Despite below-normal first season harvests, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will most likely be sustained through January 2022 across rural bimodal areas. However, the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected to be above average in urban areas following the national lockdown and in northern Uganda following poor harvests from the March-May first season due to the severe dry spell in May/June. Overall, household and market food supplies are below normal to normal following near to below-average crop production while urban food demand is atypically low and purchasing power is constrained following the COVID-19 national lockdown. Additionally, July flash floods in Kasese district in western Uganda destroyed roads, crop fields, and residential/household property. Rising water levels of Lake Kyoga in Amolatar district have displaced hundreds of people and are likely to remain a threat to livelihoods, food supplies, and trade.

In Karamoja, above-average rainfall received in July helped to revive sorghum crops that were wilting following a dry spell in June. Some farmers planted for the first time while others replanted their fields. However, the area cultivated for all crops is significantly below normal and crop development is delayed by more than 30 days. Crops like beans, green grams, cowpeas, and maize were more vulnerable to the dry spell while the sorghum crop was resilient. The lean season is expected to be atypically prolonged by at least one month to August/September since the normal availability of green harvest is yet to start.

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will continue to be driven by the impact of the dry spell, COVID-19 movement restrictions, insecurity (Kaabong, Napak and Nakapiripirit), flooding (Napak and Nabilatuk), and below-average income through at least January. While staple food retail prices were average or slightly below average in June, seasonally low incomes from agricultural labor, low livestock sales, and an oversupply of firewood and charcoal have limited the purchasing power of poor households to access food. Given the delayed and below-normal harvests in Karamoja and surrounding districts, staple food prices are likely to rise above the five-year average due to sustained atypical market demand during the post-harvest period.

Despite the closure of the international borders to refugees since the March 2020, over 5,000 refugees, fleeing conflict and violence in Ituri province of DRC in June arrived in Uganda. According to UNHCR/OPM, Uganda hosts 1,498,442 refugees and asylum seekers as of June 30. Movement restrictions due to COVID-19 continue to limit access to supplemental food and income sources while below-normal first season harvests, especially among settlements in West Nile, have limited food availability. Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to prevail given the 60 percent ration that refugees heavily rely on despite an anticipated pipeline break in food assistance funding after September.