Seasonal harvests and low food prices support food security in late 2020

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By FEWSNET

Key Messages

  • In rural bimodal areas, where the second season harvest is underway, crop production is generally performing better than previously anticipated. Key informants report that farmers planted more crops than previously estimated, while favorable, late-season rainfall improved yields. In some localized areas, however, excess rainfall during the harvesting period may lead to some yield loss among mature legumes. Additionally, households in flood-affected areas in southwestern and northern Uganda will have below-normal harvests. In most rural areas, households will likely have adequate harvests and income from labor and crop sales to have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely in Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts in Western Region, where crop losses and property losses from sustained floods are significant.
  • In Karamoja, seasonal improvements in food availability and access are sustaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Most households are consuming minimally adequate food thanks to the ongoing main season harvest and below-average retail staple food prices. While livestock markets re-opened in late November, household income from livestock and milk production, petty trade, and labor is below normal from sustained market closures and insecurity. In November, WFP resumed school meals to children who are eligible to return to school and delivered a second round of two-month take-home rations to about 115,897 children who are not yet permitted to return to class under the current COVID-19 preventive measures. Despite recent improvements, many households are expected to deplete their own-produced food stocks before March and an early start of the 2021 lean season is likely. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge by March/April.
  • Relative improvement in household purchasing power, combined with rising economic activity, continues to improve access to food among poor households in urban areas. Given the ongoing second season harvests, rising national supply coupled with persistently below-normal local and regional demand is continuing to suppress retail staple food prices. Prior to the start of the dry harvest, the retail price of a kilogram of cassava chips, maize grain, and sorghum in October ranged from below to near the five-year average in most monitored markets. As supplies from the second season harvest hit the market, retail staple food prices are expected to decline more than previously projected. Bean prices are the exception due to lower supply, and prices were 7-38 percent above the five-year average in October.  
  • COVID-19 and civil unrest pose risks to urban food security in the near to medium term. Although the rolling 7-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose steeply this month and cases hit a biweekly growth rate of 40 percent on November 28, movement restrictions are expected to remain limited for economic and political reasons. Civil unrest related to the presidential elections in January 2021 could periodically disrupt household access to food and income sources and slow down the trajectory of economic recovery. In the event that movement restrictions or civil insecurity disrupt poor urban households’ ability to earn off-farm, daily wages for a prolonged time, the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would likely increase.
  • According to UNHCR/OPM, Uganda hosted 1,434,708 refugees and asylum seekers as of October 31st. Approximately 40 percent of the refugee population has access to land and is harvesting second season crops, and nearly 95 percent of the population received a 70 percent in-kind or cash ration via WFP in November. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through December. However, deterioration to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) is expected by early 2021, based on the anticipated depletion of second season food stocks, limited income sources, and anticipated reductions in ration sizes. In the event that COVID-19 movement restrictions are re-instated, many refugees would face widening food consumption gaps.

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