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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 14-November-2016


  1. Late and erratic rains affecting planting and establishment of 2016 second season crops

  2. Below-average harvest almost completed in Karamoja region

  3. Maize prices on the rise in most markets

  4. Food security improves in Karamoja region, but stocks expected to end earlier than usual

  5. Rapidly increasing numbers of refugees from South Sudan in urgent need of humanitarian assistance

Late and erratic rains affecting planting and establishment of second season crops

In bi-modal rainfall areas, planting of 2016 second season crops, to be harvested by December, is normally completed in October. However, planting operations are still underway in some areas as rains started in early October with a delay of about 1-2 dekads. So far, precipitations have been erratically-distributed in time and space with a negative impact on crop development in parts. In particular, the FAO Agricultural Stress Index (ASI) for the first dekad of November 2016 indicates a significant risk of drought conditions developing in eastern and southwestern areas around the Lake Victoria basin (see ASI map). Rangeland conditions are also depressed in central districts of the cattle corridor. By contrast, better vegetation conditions are reported in western areas along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over most bi-modal rainfall areas, according to latest meteorological forecasts, the remainder of the rainy season is expected to be characterized by average rainfall amounts which may offset, in some areas, the moisture deficits caused by early season dryness.

Aggregate 2016 cereal production is forecast at about 3.4 million tonnes, slightly below the average of the last five years. Import requirements for the 2017 marketing year (January/December) are forecast at an average 500 000 tonnes, mainly wheat, wheat flour and rice. A surplus of about 200 000 tonnes of maize is expected to be available for exports to neighbouring countries including Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda.

Below-average harvest almost completed in Karamoja region

In the mostly uni-modal rainfall Karamoja region, harvesting operations have almost been concluded with only few crops still to be harvested in Kotido and Kaabong districts. Cereal production is expected to be slightly higher than last year’s output, severely affected by El Niño; but still at below-average levels following the negative impact on yields of a prolonged dry spell between mid-May and early June. In particular, cereal production has been significantly reduced in Napak and Abim districts.

Prices of maize increasing earlier than usual due to tight supplies

Prices of maize declined by 12-14 percent between June and August in all monitored markets with the commercialization of the 2016 first (main) season harvest. Subsequently, prices increased by 10–20 percent between August and October as the lean season was reaching its peak. In October, prices were 15-18 percent higher than 12 months earlier. The sharp and earlier-than-usual increases in prices are due to tight domestic supplies, coupled with sustained export demand by neighbouring Kenya were crop production was negatively impacted by erratic rainfall and crop pests and diseases. Similarly, in the capital, Kampala, October prices of beans and cassava flour, important staples, were 17 and 14 percent, respectively, higher than one year earlier, while prices of matooke (cooking bananas) were around their year-earlier levels.

Improving food security conditions in Karamoja region

The country is generally food secure with chronic food insecurity at minimal levels in most bi-modal rainfall areas and overall improvements are expected by the end of the year when second season crops will be available for consumption. However, pockets of food insecurity are reported in Teso and Acholi regions, where poor households have already depleted food stocks from the 2016 below-average first season crops (harvested in July/August) and are essentially relying on local markets to satisfy their food requirements. In these regions, recent labour opportunities related to land preparation and planting activities of 2016 second season crops have provided some income opportunities, with an ensuing improvement in terms of food access.

In the Karamoja region, food security conditions have recently improved due to the availability of recently-harvested crops. However, as the output has been below-average, household stocks are expected to be depleted earlier than usual, most likely by February. Prospects are better for the households in Kotido and Kaabong districts that gathered a better output and stocks are thus expected to last longer.

As of late July 2016, the country hosts over 568 000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, in addition to minor groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Somalia. The influx of South Sudanese refugees has significantly accelerated since early August 2016, when heavy fighting spread in several counties of Greater Equatoria region and additional 232 000 new arrivals are recorded. Most South Sudanese refugees are hosted in camps in northwestern districts of Adjumani and Yumbe and are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.