The Costs of Inaction and the implications on WFP food assistance in Uganda
In Uganda, food insecurity as classified under IPC Phase 3+ increased in the last 2 years from 2.2 million people in 2021 to 2.5 million in 2022. To respond to this crisis WFP scaled up its assistance to food insecure populations from roughly 1.6 million assisted beneficiaries in 2021 to 1.9 million in 2022.
However, the sheer scale and speed in the deterioration of food security has resulted in an increasing gap between needs and the resources available to WFP to intervene and there have been significant funding shortfalls. In addition to this the macroeconomic shocks in the region such as high food prices and inflation have also increased WFP’s operational costs putting extra stress on the already-stretched capacity of WFP to respond.
As of the end of 2022, Uganda hosted nearly 1.5 million refugees, the largest refugee population in Africa, with 57 percent of refugees originating from South Sudan, 32 percent from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 4 percent from Somalia, 3 percent from Burundi, and the rest from Eritrea, Rwanda and other countries..
The majority live in 13 settlements in the West Nile subregion, and southern and midwestern regions, while 8 percent live in urban areas, particularly Kampala.1 Refugees in Uganda are nearly all dependent on food assistance; however funding shortfalls led WFP to reduce food rations first to 70 percent from April 2020 and subsequently to 60 percent from February 2021. The prioritisation of WFP’s food assistance has been implemented since November 2021 following a phased approach which aimed to prioritize the neediest by providing different ration amounts to different vulnerability categories. This means that for many people reached by WFP the duration or size of their assistance is below minimum daily requirements. These “inactions” have had repercussions on the food security of people already in need.
This first Cost of Inaction country brief aims to quantify the impacts of the World Food Programme’s funding shortfalls in Uganda in 2021 and 2022. It also looks at the potential impacts on food insecure populations and WFP future operations. This is not to ignore the fact that there are various key humanitarian actors in the region, starting with governments. The analysis uses Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) data so in this study the food insecure numbers equate to populations classified as equivalent to IPC Acutely food insecure (3+).
Lastly this novel study will now acts as a baseline for further RAM work on the implications of inaction on food security levels at the household level and this work has begun in partnership with the University of California, Davis.
• This cost of inaction in Uganda in 2022 translates into 600,000 Acutely food insecure (equivalent to IPC 3, 4 or 5) people NOT receiving any assistance. By December 2022 an estimated 24 percent of the acutely food insecure in Uganda received no assistance from WFP.
• WFP Uganda only received 47 percent of its requested funding forcing WFP to resort to different strategies (e.g. ration cuts, prioritization).
• WFP needed to spend 0.68 cents per person per day in 2022 but could only spend 0.35 cents.
This meant that for those people assisted, WFP was able to provide, on average, only 52% of the minimum daily kilocalories needed. The long-term implications of this particularly on women, children and the elderly will be dire.
• If the above gaps persist, there will, over time, be an increase in both the numbers of hungry as well as an increase in the severity of hunger, which will see an increasing percentage of the population moving into worse IPC phases. This in turn will necessitate an increase in resources required by WFP and its partners to combat hunger.