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Uganda Food Security Outlook Update: High staple prices and below-average first season harvests to sustain atypical food insecurity, April 2022

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Key Messages

Across most bimodal areas, the March to May rainy season started late, and cumulative rainfall to date has been significantly below average in the northern and eastern regions and parts of the central region. Given this, first season crop production is expected to be below average at the national level, with northern and eastern areas likely to experience the worst production losses. Given eroded coping capacity following two consecutive below-average production seasons, below-average income-earning and above-average prices are expected to drive an increasing number of poor households in northern areas to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes prior to the start of harvesting in June/July, when the harvest will support some improved access to food and income through September. Across other rural bimodal areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level through September 2022.

In Karamoja, worsening insecurity is expected to continue to disrupt normal livelihood activities and income-earning. Given this and above-average food prices, purchasing power is likely to continue to decline for Karamoja households throughout the remainder of the lean season, with many poor households likely to face widening consumption gaps given already weak coping capacity. Though some Karamoja households will likely experience improvements in food consumption when prices decline with the bimodal harvests and, following this, when the start of harvesting in Karamoja improves food availability, overall below-average access to food and income is likely to sustain area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in large parts of Karamoja through at least September.

Staple food prices have continued to increase in recent months and are higher than prices recorded last year and five-year average levels across most of Uganda. Prices of staple sorghum and maize are now significantly above average in several key reference markets across the country. In Karamoja, terms of trade for sorghum against firewood, charcoal, and goats are below average and worse than last year, significantly restricting food access for poor households. After the first season bimodal harvest in June/July, food prices are expected to decline but are now expected to remain above average given expectations for below-average production, increased net exports, and impacts of the war in Ukraine on global supply chains and prices.

A surge in refugee arrivals from the DRC since January 2022 has increased humanitarian assistance needs amidst inadequate funding. As of March 31, Uganda hosted over 1,582,076 refugees and asylum seekers. Given limited livelihood options, high prices are constraining access to food and agricultural inputs for many refugee households. In northwestern settlements, the delayed start of the rainy season has further disrupted agricultural livelihoods. Most refugees likely continue to face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes supported by humanitarian food assistance rations equivalent to 40-70 percent of households’ energy needs. However, rations are likely insufficient for many, with a growing number expected to face consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes prior to the harvest in June/July.