Food Security Outlook

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected in many pastoral areas during the lean season

June 2019 to January 2020

June - September 2019

October 2019 - January 2020

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
Kenya - NDMA
WFP

Key Messages

  • According to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the March – May long rains season has officially ended and rains are expected only in the western and central parts of Kenya through the rest of June. Cumulative rainfall was 50-80 percent of average across eastern Kenya and 25-50 percent of average in Tana River county. Due to ongoing drought and a second consecutive below-average rainfall season, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that 1.6 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in need of humanitarian food assistance.

  • In pastoral areas, the ongoing lean season will be more severe than usual, driven by anticipated declines in livestock prices and rising staple food prices. Poor households are expected to face increased difficulty purchasing their minimum food needs without engaging in crisis coping strategies and livelihood asset depletion. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through September. The forecast average October-December short rains are expected to support improved livestock production, resulting in improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

  • In marginal agricultural areas, maize production is expected to be less than 50 percent of average and delayed to August. Poor households are expected to increasingly rely on consumption coping strategies through September to cope with exhausted household food stocks, below-average agricultural labor, and rising staple food prices. However, income from typical livelihoods activities during the short rains season is expected to stabilize food security outcomes until the arrival of next harvest in January. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the scenario period.

  • The price of maize, which remained well below average in the first quarter of 2019, has increased significantly since March, driven by declines in local market supply, declines in cross-border imports from Uganda and Ethiopia, and market speculation regarding the anticipated below-average long rains harvests. In urban markets, the wholesale price of maize was 8-12 percent above the five-year average while dry bean prices were 7-21 percent above average. Household purchasing power is expected to continue to decline throughout the scenario period.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

Due to ongoing drought and a second consecutive below-average rainfall season, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that 1.6 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in need of humanitarian food assistance. This estimate is exclusive of refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab. Based on analysis conducted during the KFSSG’s 2019 Mid-Season Long Rains Update and 2018/2019 Short Rains Assessment, in which FEWS NET participated, the food insecure population has increased 45 percent since February 2019. The negative impacts of the below-average October to December 2018 short rains season were largely mitigated by surplus crop production and livestock productivity realized during the preceeding March to May 2018 long rains season, which served to stabilize food prices and therefore food access for poor households. However, drought conditions that persisted through the 2019 long rains season have now significantly impacted household food and income sources, leading to widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas in June. As the June to September dry season approaches, drought appears to be worsening in marginal agricultural areas in Kwale, Kilifi, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Makueni, and Lamu counties and in pastoral and agropastoral areas in Isiolo, Tana River, Samburu, and Baringo counties.

Seasonal progress: Cumulative rainfall during the March to May 2019 long rains season in bimodal areas was significantly below average, sustaining moderate drought conditions in the southeast (Figure 1). In southern Kenya, early March to early April was among the top three driest periods on record since 1981, due to delays of 20 to more than 40 days in the onset of the season (Figure 2). Early season dryness transitioned to a period of moderate to heavy rainfall in May, though this did not permit seasonal totals to recover in most areas. According to satellite-derived estimates, cumulative rainfall was 50-80 percent of average across eastern Kenya (Figure 3). Worst-affected areas in Tana River county received only 25-50 percent of average rainfall.

In western Kenya, the unimodal March to August long rains season has been characterized by poor temporal and spatial distribution. Cumulative March to May rainfall was slightly better than in the east, due to the timely onset of the season in the lake regions of Turkana and Lake Victoria. At the end of May, rainfall was 70-110 percent of average in northwestern Kenya and the Lake Victoria region; however, deficits of 10-40 percent and moderate drought were still prevalent in greater western Kenya. In June, rainfall amounts have significantly increased to above-average levels, which has raised the risk of localized flooding, though to date no flooding has been reported.

Crop production: In marginal agricultural areas, late and below-average rainfall resulted in poor germination, wilting, and drying of earlier-planted maize, beans, and green grams. The high cost of farm inputs limited replanting efforts and, as a result, the total area planted for all major crops is estimated at 40 percent below the five-year average. The greatest deficits in area planted are in the southeast, where area planted is approximately half of average. Overall, crop development has been delayed by approximately one month.

In high and medium potential agricultural areas in unimodal western unimodal Kenya, the development of maize crops has been negatively impacted by a late start to the rains, especially in parts of western Kenya and the Rift Valley. Although the rains were timely in the Lake Victoria region, the rains were 20-30 days late across the Rift Valley, resulting in crop moisture stress across the entire region and necessitating replanting in some counties. In the North Rift Valley, many large-scale farmers opted to plant wheat instead of replanting maize, while most small-scale farmers opted to replant fast-maturing maize. Despite replanting by many farmers, the area planted is estimated to be 25 percent below the five-year average. Reports of Fall Armyworm (FAW) were prevalent in April, though increased rainfall since early May helped control the pest and many crops are recovering.

Livestock production: Due to early season dryness and above-average land surface temperatures, forage and water resources were significantly below average through late April. Increased rainfall in May notably improved overall vegetation and water availability, but vegetation conditions remain below the median in many pastoral areas (Figure 4). According to the field reports, pasture conditions range from poor to fair and are expected to last until late June compared to July in a normal year. Browse conditions range from fair to good and are expected to last until late July compared to August in a normal year. In May, livestock trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources were more than twice as long as typical trekking distances in Marsabit, Mandera, and Tana River and around 50 percent longer in Samburu. However, trekking distances are shorter than normal in Wajir and Garissa due to improved rainfall in the past month.

Livestock body conditionsa are generally below average. Goat and camel body conditions are fair to good while sheep and cattle body conditions are fair in most areas. The exception to this is northwest and northern pastoral areas where conditions are fair to poor across species. Given this and low birth rates across species, milk production is estimated to be around 10-25 percent below average in most pastoral areas. In Turkana and Mandera, milk production is estimated at nearly half of normal levels. However, due to relatively better local conditions, milk production is average to above average in Samburu, Garissa, Isiolo, and Wajir.

Migration: Given limited rangeland resource availability, atypical livestock migration is occuring both within and across counties. Livestock remain mostly in dry season grazing areas and herders are driving their livestock further away from homesteads and along atypical routes. Livestock from parts of Isiolo, Samburu, Garissa, and Wajir continue to move towards dry season grazing areas in Isiolo South, while those in Turkana are migrating towards and across the country’s borders. In Tana River, an estimated 60 percent of livestock have moved southward to Tana Delta while others have out-migrated to Kitui, resulting in herder-farmer conflict in Tana North. At the same time, livestock have in-migrated to Tana River from northeastern pastoral areas. In Baringo and Laikipia, livestock herds are moving internally within the county.

Markets and trade: Household purchasing power has declined in May, driven by the rise of maize and dry beans prices to average or above-average levels. The price of maize, which remained well below average in the first quarter of 2019, has increased significantly since March, driven by declines in local market supply, declines in cross-border imports from Uganda and Ethiopia, and market speculation regarding the anticipated below-average long rains harvests. In urban reference markets, the wholesale prices of maize were 8-12 percent above the five-year average while dry bean prices were 7-21 percent above average. In marginal agricultural reference markets, maize prices were 11-23 percent above average, except in Taita Taveta where prices remain 25 percent below average and in Kwale and Makueni where prices remain near average. Dry bean prices are largely near average. In pastoral reference markets, maize prices were 6-19 percent above average in Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa and near average in other areas, with the key exception of Turkana, where low demand for maize and the availability of sorghum as a substitute has kept maize prices 20 percent below average. In late May, the Government of Kenya via the National Cereals and Produce Board released about two million bags of maize to local millers in an effort to mitigate steep price increases for sifted maize flour, which rose from KES 85/kg in April to KES 115/kg in May.

Goat prices generally remained average to slightly above average driven by high demand – particularly due to seasonal Eid celebrations – and low market supply, since most livestock remain in distant dry season grazing areas or have unsaleable body conditions. Prices ranged from near average to 12 percent above average, except in Tana River and West Pokot where prices were 11-13 percent below average. However, as a result of rising maize prices, trends in the goat-to-maize terms of trade (ToT) are less favorable or atypically low for this time of the year. Except in Isiolo, Samburu, and Turkana, where the ToT were 6-18 percent above average, the ToT ranged from near average to 17 percent below average. In absolute terms, the ToT were lowest in Turkana, at 38 kg per goat, and highest in Marsabit, at 71 kilograms.

Pastoral area outcomes: Poor households’ herd sizes were already 30-50 percent below normal as of February due to losses during the 2016/2017 drought, and they face difficulty meeting their basic food needs even while engaging in distressed sales given below-average herd sizes and  poor livestock body conditions. Additionally, due to poor livestock body conditions, poor households are consuming less milk than is typical for this time period. Low herd sizes and birth rates among better-off households have also reduced demand for herding labor, an important income source for poor households. When poor households do sell livestock, poor terms of trade driven by rising maize prices have reduced household food access. Sentinel site data collected by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) early warning system in May indicates increased use of consumption-based coping strategies in some areas, most notably in Marsabit, Turkana, Tana River, and Baringo counties where the mean reduced Coping Strategy Index (rCSI) ranged from 17.5-19.1. The proportion of children considered “at risk” of acute malnutrition, as measured by middle upper arm circumference (MUAC<135mm), was at above-average levels in May in Turkana, Samburu, and Tana River, driven in part by food insecurity factors. As a result, it is expected many poor households in in large parts of Northwestern, Northern, Northeastern, Eastern, and Southeastern pastoral livelihood zones are either experience food consumption gaps or are engaging in unsustainable coping strategies to meet their food needs and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes exist.

Marginal agricultural area outcomes: Poor households in the southeast have already depleted their food stocks and those in coastal areas have few food stocks remaining. Consequently, most are currently heavily dependent on market food purchases to meet their food needs. However, below-average area planted has reduced household income from planting and weeding agricultural labor at a time when staple food prices are rising to above-average levels. In some areas, increased human-wildlife and pastoralist-farmer conflict are causing additional reductions to area planted, mostly in Kitui and Tana River. Most poor households are expanding alternative income sources from petty trade, casual labor, a few goat sales, which together are allowing most to meet their minimum food needs. According to NDMA sentinel site data, mean rCSI remained well below 19 across most counties in May, while the proportion of children “at risk” of acute malnutrition remains below average. However, rCSI increased to 16 in Kwale and 17 in Meru, reflecting an increase in the intensity of consumption coping strategies. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are prevalent, but Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is likely at the household level.

Assumptions

The June 2019 to January 2020 most likely food security outcomes are based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • According to the NOAA/CPC forecast, the remainder of the February to August unimodal long rains season in western Kenya is most likely to be above average, due to the presence of El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole  
  • Also according to the NOAA/CPC seasonal ensemble forecast, the October to December short rains season is forecast to be average. However, there is uncertainty associated with the likelihood of El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole.
  • Monthly land surface temperature anomalies are likely to be 0.25-0.5 C° above average in western Kenya and 0.5-1 C° above average in eastern Kenya from July to September.
  • Based on area planted and forecast seasonal performance, marginal agricultural long rains maize crop production is expected to be less than 50 percent of the long-term average. However, it is assumed that farmers increased production of drought-tolerant crops. Main harvests are expected later than normal, in August. Unimodal maize crop production in high and medium potential areas is expected to be 10-25 percent below average. Harvests will be delayed to November.
  • Due to below-average production, agricultural labor demand in marginal agricultural areas is expected remain below normal through August. Labor demand is expected to rebound to average to above-average levels from September onward, as middle and better-off households are likely to increase area planted to recoup previous losses.
  • Based on low birth levels and low conception levels from February to May, which will consequently result in low births in the October-January period, herding and livestock-related labor demand is expected to remain below average.
  • Given current below-average rangeland resource availability and anticipated above-average temperatures, accelerated deterioration of rangeland resources is expected to drive atypical livestock migration and increased resource-based conflict between pastoralists and between pastoralists and farmers until the start of the short rains in October.
  • Based on anticipated below-average national crop production, anticipated depletion of national strategic grain reserves, and anticipated below-average food commodity imports from usual sources like Uganda and Tanzania, maize prices are expected to be slightly to moderately above average throughout the scenario period in most key reference markets. Maize prices in Nairobi key reference markets are expected to be 8-16 percent above average through January 2020.
  • Based on current cross-border trade volumes, below-average crop production in Uganda and Zambia, uncertain government policy in Tanzania, and better price differentials that are drawing supplies to Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan, regional food commodity imports are expected to be below average. It is anticipated that the Government of Kenya will lift the duty on maize imports in anticipation of a shortage in the national maize supply. This would most likely result in above average total imports from regional and international sources. 
  • Based on the assumption that livestock body conditions will decline during the July-September dry season and current price trends, livestock prices are expected to decline to below 2018 prices and five-year averages through October. Prices are expected to return to near-average levels during the short rains season, with a slight decline in January. In marginal agricultural areas, livestock prices are expected to decline through September, but increase to above average levels from October to January.
  • In the absence of information on planned, funded, and likely humanitarian food assistance, this scenario assumes no food assistance will be delivered from July to January. However, interannual assistance is expected to continue normally. The exception to this is in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee settlements, where based on available plans and past trends it is expected humanitarian food assistance will continue to reach the majority of the population throughout the scenario period.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

In pastoral areas, intensifying drought conditions during the July-September dry season are expected to increase the prevalence of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes until the start of the short rains season in October. The pastoral lean season, which coincides with this period, is expected to be more severe than usual. Accelerated declines in rangeland resources are expected to drive further deterioration in livestock health and productivity as well as atypical livestock migration, elevating the likelihood of resource-based conflict and the susceptibility of livestock to disease. Driven by below-average income from livestock production and herding labor and rising staple food prices, poor households’ purchasing power and food access are anticipated to considerably decline. An increase in livestock offtake is likely, especially in parts of Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, and Tana River, in part due to the likelihood of distressed sales of livestock and in part due to anticipated livestock losses because of drought. Poor households are expected to intensify dependence on non-livestock related income sources, such as charcoal and firewood sales and remittances from relatives, but expandability of these sources is limited. As a result, many households will face increased difficulty purchasing their minimum food needs without engaging in crisis-coping strategies and livelihood asset depletion. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist. Acute malnutrition prevalence is also anticipated to sustain or rise to above-normal levels.

With the onset of the short rains in October, the regeneration of forage and water resources are expected to gradually lead to food security improvements. As livestock return to wet season grazing areas near homesteads, livestock body conditions and productivity are expected return to normal from late October to January. Although low birth rates will continue to impact livestock-related labor, household income will increase as livestock prices and goat and camel milk production return to normal levels. However, cattle milk production will likely remain below average due to slow recovery and likely fewer births. Household purchasing power is anticipated to improve with the availability of the unimodal long rains harvest in November, which will drive staple food prices downward even though prices are likely to remain at least slightly elevated. As a result of increased milk availability and income and improved terms of trade, many poor households are expected to be able to meet their minimum food needs and the prevalence of acute malnutrition is anticipated to gradually decline. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected, though some households are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, and Tana River.

In marginal agricultural areas, June to September typically covers the harvest and post-harvest period. This year, due to the delayed and below-average harvest, poor households are expected to increasingly rely on consumption coping strategies through July to cope with exhausted household food stocks, below-average agricultural labor, and rising staple food prices. Short-cycle crops will only be minimally available in late June. Among poor households with small ruminants, declines in livestock body conditions through September are expected to result in reduced milk consumption. With the arrival of the main harvest in August, most poor households are expected to harvest one-two months of maize stocks supplemented by drought-tolerant crops, but the main harvest will be insufficient to permit a typical level of crop sales. Given that the expandability of non-agricultural income sources is limited, poor households are expected to struggle to cover essential non-food expenditures and will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Some of the poorest households with limited crop and livestock production capacity are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Makueni, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, and Meru North.

Typical livelihoods activities during the October-December short rains season are expected to stabilize food security outcomes until the arrival of the green harvest in January, sustaining most poor households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Land preparation in anticipation of the short rains will begin by mid-September, and given that better-off households are expected to increase area planted to compensate for long rains losses, agricultural labor income is expected to be above average. Although national and county governments are likely to distribute farm inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, and certified seeds to maximize production, limited land size and pest incidence will likely result in average production among poor households. The rains will also restore livestock body conditions, which would likely return milk consumption to normal levels. From November onward, household purchasing power is expected to improve as unimodal harvests increase market supply and reduce staple food prices. Despite the absence of household food stocks and crop sales, household food access is expected to gradually improve and acute malnutrition prevalence is expected to decline. By late December and January, when seasonal vegetables and the green harvest become available, most poor households will be able to meet their food and non-food needs without engaging in negative coping strategies.

EVENTS THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE OUTLOOK

Area Event Impact on food security outcomes
Unimodal high and medium potential agricultural areas Above average rainfall Above-average rains from June through August will result in recovery of long rains crop production, increasing the yield and ultimately resulting in near average production. In turn this would improve the national supply on markets, moderating maize prices and improving food access throughout the projection period. This would result in a greater proportion of the population being Stressed (IPC Phase 2), rather than in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and some households would face None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. 
National Below-average October-December short rains  Below average October-December short rains that would result in increased scarcity of forage and water resources, reducing livestock productivity and livestock prices. Below-average short rains production would also be likely, driving lower than normal access to own production and reduced income. Additional households would likely be in Crisis.
National Large scale imports or maize price subsidies   Large scale imports or maize price subsidies in the month of August would likely result in a decrease in maize prices to average or below-average levels. Between August and November this would prevent expected food security deterioration and from November as the harvest from the unimodal areas becomes available and as livestock productivity improves, food security will improve significantly. A greater proportion of the population being Stressed (IPC Phase 2), rather than in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and some households would face None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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