Effect of drought early warning system on household food security in Karamoja subregion, Uganda

Background: Drought is regarded as a leading cause of food insecurity affecting about 220 million people in sub- Saharan Africa. Drought early warning systems (DEWSs) have the potential to strengthen capacity of communities in managing and reducing drought effects through building preparedness and providing coping strategies. The Karamoja subregion is the only region with a functional DEWS in Uganda. The subregion suffers from effects of recurrent episodes of drought with negative impacts on food security. Despite having DEWS in place, the subregion remains the most food insecure in the country. The extent to which DEWS has contributed to household food security in the subregion remains unclear. This study determined the effect of DEWS on agro-pastoral household food security in the subregion. The study was conducted in Nakapiripirit and Kotido districts of the Karamoja. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 305 participating and non-participating households in DEWS. The effect of participating in DEWS on food security was analyzed using the generalized linear model. The level of food security and nutrition were measured using the household food insecurity access score and household dietary diversity score (HDDS), respectively. Findings showed that all respondents had experienced food insecurity during the course of the year. Drought was indicated as the main cause of food insecurity in the households. Participation in DEWS significantly (p < 0.01) reduced the threat of food insecurity by 23.7% and increased the level of household nutrition by 30%. Better nutrition was realized in DEWS participating households (HDDS = 9.0) compared to non-participating households (HDDS = 6.6). Owing to intermittent drought events in the Karamoja subregion, DEWS contributes to household food security and nutrition by providing households with information on timely planting, crop diversification, farm equipment, drought management and drought-tolerant crop varieties. There is need for DEWS practitioners to focus on information dissemination, provision of drought-tolerant crops and provision of training opportunities to communities for increased production in semi-arid areas.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Journal Articles
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Open Access
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Project sponsor: 
World Bank/NARO-ATAAS Project
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