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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 30-August-2017


  1. Below-average 2017 first season harvest gathered in bi-modal rainfall areas due to unfavourable weather

  2. Reduced crop output expected also in uni-modal Karamoja Region due to poor rains

  3. Below-average pasture and water availability in pastoral areas affecting livestock

  4. Prices of food declining in recent months

  5. Food security situation improving, but earlier than usual onset of lean season expected due to reduced harvests

  6. About 1 million refugees from South Sudan in urgent need of humanitarian assistance

Below-average 2017 first season harvest gathered in bi-modal rainfall areas

In bi-modal rainfall areas, harvesting of the 2017 first season crops was completed in July and crop output is estimated at below‑average levels. Seasonal rainfall was poor and erratic in several southwestern and northern districts, having a negative impact on crop establishment and development. The most severe rainfall deficits were recorded in southwestern Kibaale, Busheny, Kanungu and Rukungiri districts, where March‑May accumulated rainfall was 30‑40 percent below the long‑term average. In northern districts, rainfall amounts were near average, but had an erratic temporal distribution with a prolonged dry spell in the first two dekads of April. According to the FAO Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), the areas most affected by the reduced rainfall, where in early June more than 70 percent of cropland was affected by drought, were northeastern Otuke, Alebtong, Soroti, Amuria, Kaberamaido, Lira, Serere and Dokolo districts and southwestern Kibaale, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Kamwenge, Hoima and Mubende districts (see ASI map).

Fall Armyworm infestations, reported in 60 of the country’s 111 districts, have adversely affected yields, mainly of maize, in localized areas.

Total cereal production for 2017 is tentatively set at 3.2 million tonnes, 7 percent below the previous five‑year average.

Reduced and delayed harvest expected in Karamoja Region

In the uni‑modal rainfall Karamoja Region, where sorghum and millet are predominantly grown, harvesting is expected to start in September with about a one‑month delay. Crop production is forecast at below‑average levels, as seasonal rains had a delayed onset, an erratic temporal distribution and below‑average cumulative amounts. Improved late season rains in July reduced soil moisture deficits, but in Kaabong, Moroto and Nakapiripirit districts, the cumulative rainfall between March and early‑August remained up to 20 percent below-average.

Below-average pasture and water availability in pastoral areas affecting livestock

In the most pastoral areas of the cattle corridor and in Karamoja Region, rangeland conditions are poorer than normal (see VCI map) and water availability is reduced due to consecutive seasons of below‑average rainfall. In the Karamoja Region and in eastern areas, overgrazing put additional pressure on rangeland resources, as Kaabong, Moroto, Kotido, and Amudat districts host additional livestock from South Sudan and Kenya, where pastoralists were displaced by civil conflict and drought, respectively. Prolonged pasture and water stress had a negative impact on livestock body conditions and animal emaciation is reported in the cattle corridor.

Food prices declining in recent months

Prices of maize increased by 35‑40 percent between January and May 2017, reaching record levels in most markets, driven by tight supplies from the reduced 2016 cereal output and concerns over the performance of the 2017 first season harvest. Subsequently, they declined seasonally by 40‑45 percent between May and July following the harvest period for first season crops. However, maize prices in July 2017 were 5 and 10 percent higher than their year‑earlier levels, respectively, in the capital, Kampala, and in Lira market, located in a northern key‑producing area.

In Kampala, prices of matooke (cooking bananas) and beans, important staples in the local diet, declined by about 35 percent between May and July 2017.

Food security situation improving, but early onset of lean season is expected

As of February 2017, about 1.6 million people were estimated to be severely food insecure, IPC Phase 3: “Crisis”, mainly concentrated in some central districts and in the Karamoja Region. In bi‑modal rainfall areas, food security conditions are improving as first season crops have recently become available for consumption, and currently IPC Phase 1: “Minimal” levels of food insecurity prevail. However, in southwestern Kanungu, Rukungiri, Rubirizi, Kisoro and Kabale districts, were the first season harvests were severely affected by unfavourable weather, poor households are estimated to be facing IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” levels of food insecurity through November, when the second season green crops will be harvested. In the Karamoja Region, IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” levels of food insecurity persist in Napak, Kaabong and Moroto until September when crops of the delayed harvest will be available for consumption and improvement to IPC Phase 2: “Stressed” is expected. However, in both bi‑modal areas and in the Karamoja Region, stocks will be depleted earlier than usual due to below‑average crop outputs and an early onset of the lean season is expected.

The country hosts about 1.34 million refugees, including about 1 million people from South Sudan, mainly sheltering in camps in northern Yumbe, Moyo, Arua, Adjumani and Lamwo districts. Refugees who arrived after July 2016 received a plot of land from the Government upon arrival, typically around 900 square meters, to both establish a settlement and cultivate crops. Only refugees who arrived by December 2016 were likely able to plant some crops, while the others mainly rely on food assistance, which is allowing most of the refugees to have a minimally adequate food consumption, IPC Phase 2: ”Stressed”, while some of them are facing IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” levels of food insecurity.