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Uganda's food insecurity still fragile

afrol News, 7 September - Food insecurity remains fragile in northern Uganda, despite the gradual increase in households’ access to land for food cultivation which favors production prospects for second season harvests due in November.

According to a report by the food monitoring organisation, Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS) said early harvests in Karamoja, north-eastern Uganda, have improved household food stocks and food security there.

As the first season harvests ensure normal food security in most other parts of the country, a second season sowing is underway in bi-modal areas covering most areas of the country outside Karamoja.

Though harvests have generally increased commodity supplies to markets, yet prices remain higher than average.

"Households in northern Uganda continue to face uncertain civil and food security with many of the estimated 1.49 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) only able to meet less than 50% of their food needs from their own sources and purchases from markets," the report said, adding that majority of the households' food needs are met by food aid distributed by World Food Programme.

Food security in Karamoja, north-eastern Uganda, has slightly improved following the onset of minor harvests that have increased supplies of cereals and green vegetables, food monitors said. "The presence of livestock closer to homesteads, having returned to the region from dry season grazing areas, has increased availability of animal products such as milk and meat for livestock owning households, especially for the most vulnerable, the young and elderly household members."

A recent findings by the WFP-led Emergency Food Security Assessment confirmed that food security conditions have slightly improved since July and that food distributions to households affected by last year’s poor season were not needed beyond July.

Although there were better rainfall this year than last year, they have still been below average and are likely to result in below-normal harvests in September/October in Karamoja. Consequently, populations in the area will likely need food assistance again by the end of 2007 or early 2008.

The reported presence of the fatal Pest des Petits Ruminants (PPR) virus among small ruminants [sheep and goats] continues to spread at an alarming rate in Karamoja. Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has finally confirmed presence of the virus.

The virus is reported to have affected more than a million small ruminants, putting the income and food security of pastoral and agro-pastoral households at risk.

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