Uganda

Uganda Key Message Update: Late harvests and above-average market prices limiting food access nationwide, May 2022

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Key Messages:

  • In bimodal areas, cumulative first season (March to May) rainfall to date was only 45-75 percent of normal across the northern half of the country as of May 20, according to data from CHIRPS. The season started late in most areas and has been challenged by dry spells. According to information from a late May field assessment conducted by FEWS NET, crops in many northern and eastern areas and some central areas are in early vegetative to flowering stages, with significant variability. Given this and a potential early cessation of rainfall in most areas, grain filling is likely to be poor and harvests in June/July are expected to be below average and generally delayed by 30-50 days. In Karamoja, the late start to the April to September unimodal rainfall season has delayed planting, which is still ongoing as of late May alongside atypical dry spells. Given this and crop conditions in neighboring districts, it is expected that some germinating crops are experiencing moisture stress, with poor households unlikely to able to afford sufficient seed for replanting.

  • Given below-average harvests in 2021 and atypically high prices of food, non-food commodities, and essential services like education and transportation, many poor households in eastern and northern bimodal areas as well as some central bimodal areas are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Though the population facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will reduce with the harvests in June/July, improvements in food availability from own crop production and income from crop sales are expected to be less than normal, and area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist in these areas through at least September. In other bimodal areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level.

  • In Karamoja, the main season harvest is now expected to be below average and delayed until September/October. This will extend the lean season by around two months. Most of the Karamoja region has already been in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) since 2021, even during the post-harvest period. Due primarily to the poor rainfall, availability of wild foods and access to income from labor are likely below average and inadequate for households to meet their minimum food needs. Despite recent relative improvement in security in the region, erratic and unpredictable periods of heightened insecurity are likely to continue threatening livelihoods, including by disrupting access to livestock grazing areas and impeding livestock movement along marketing routes. Though some improvements are expected when prices decline alongside the bimodal harvests, most poor households will likely continue to face food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through September before the harvest improves outcomes.

  • Prices of staple beans, cassava chips, maize, and sorghum increased notably between March and April, by 6-34 percent in key reference markets. Moreover, annual inflation increased from 2.7 percent in January 2022 to 4.9 percent in April 2022. These atypical price increases are at least in part attributed to sharp increases in prices of food and non-food items including fuel—resulting in rising transportation costs—given international supply chain disruptions for petroleum products, raw materials for industry, and other consumables like wheat due to the war in Ukraine. Food price increases are also likely being driven by atypically high market demand and low supply due to the delayed availability of the green harvest (for beans and maize) in eastern, northern, and some central areas. Given expectations for below-average first season production in June/July, reduced global supply of grains, and sustained high global prices, staple food prices in Uganda are unlikely to decline as much as is typical during the post-harvest period and will remain above average.