Sluggish economic activity, crop losses from weather shocks, and high bean prices continue to limit household income and dietary diversity in rural and urban areas of Uganda. However, the scale of the population experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes has declined in both rural and urban areas compared to August. The first season harvest in bimodal areas and start of the main harvest in Karamoja are leading to relative improvements in food availability and access. Retail prices for cassava chips, maize grain, and sorghum range from near to below average in most key reference markets. In contrast, bean prices range from 30 to 40 percent above average due to three consecutive seasons of below-average bean production.
The government of Uganda (GoU) has lifted outstanding lockdown measures in 12 border districts and re-opened international borders, despite rising daily case incidence of COVID-19 since August. The gradual reopening of economic activity since July has driven relative improvements in household income, especially in the informal sector. However, overall activity remains below normal, domestic and export demand for agricultural products remains suppressed, and open-air food and livestock markets remain closed. As a result, poor urban and rural households’ income is still below normal.
In bimodal rural areas, moderate to locally heavy rainfall in August and September prompted farmers in some areas to plough and plant second season crops early. In southwestern and eastern Uganda, however, the rains led to localized landslides and strong winds that destroyed crops and property. Second season production prospects in November/December are below average due to a seasonal forecast of below-average rainfall from October to December, resulting from La Niña conditions and a weak negative Indian Ocean dipole. Although Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are currently present in most areas after the first season harvests, an atypical increase in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) population is likely in early 2021. In addition, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will most likely persist in areas affected by multiple weather shocks in 2020.
The start of the green and dry harvests in southern and western Karamoja is driving improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In northern Karamoja, the harvest will commence in October. Although harvest prospects are below average due to erratic rainfall performance earlier in the season, household food stocks are expected to be sufficient through December or January. However, household income from livestock and milk sales and alcohol production is limited, due to livestock quarantines associated with the local Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, open-air market closures related to COVID-19 restrictions, and an increase in livestock thefts and related insecurity. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely from October to January.
According to UNHCR/OPM, Uganda hosted 1,428,961 refugees and asylum seekers as of August 31st. Approximately 95 percent of the population is receiving a 70 percent in-kind or cash/voucher ration via WFP, which is expected to be provided through December. Although the GoU has lifted most COVID-19 lockdown measures across the country, Kyangwali refugee settlement is under lockdown due to a recent spike in new cases. In other settlements, regained relative mobility is expected to facilitate an increase in household income. Despite this, refugees will likely still have a reduced ability to access inputs and invest in second season planting. A scale-up in food assistance to restore a full ration and investments in livelihoods support are required to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.