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Food security Crisis (IPC Phase 3) likely in parts of the pastoral areas and southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural lowlands

  • Alert
  • Kenya
  • May 31, 2012
Food security Crisis (IPC Phase 3) likely in parts of the pastoral areas and southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural lowlands

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3) of food insecurity are likely in parts of the northwest and northeast pastoral areas and in parts of the southeastern and coastal lowlands in September at the peak of the lean season. Affected households are likely to experience significant food consumption gaps and may resort to employment of irreversible coping strategies such as liquidating livelihood assets or diverting expenses from essential non-food items such as health care and education. The main drivers of the acute food insecurity are the poor 2012 March to May long rains after previous successive poor seasons, conflict and insecurity, and high food prices. Interventions that protect assets or increase food access will be required to mitigate likely deterioration of household food security. 


    Situation

    Consistent with the seasonal forecast, the long rains were delayed by up to five weeks in some areas. The long rains have been erratic across the northeastern pastoral areas and the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural lowlands with resulting rainfall deficits. In these areas, rainfall totals were less than 85 percent of average in many places. Total rainfall was less than 20 percent of average in the central parts of Garissa and Tana River Districts. According to short term forecasts, the rains are likely to cease normally by the first week of June with the exception of the coastal strip and the southern part of Tana River where rains are expected to continue into June as is seasonally normal. 

    As a result of below average rain, water trucking is ongoing in western Mandera, southern Ijara, and Lamu while unusually early livestock migrations are occurring in northeastern and western Mandera, southern Wajir, Ijara, and northern and central Garissa and Tana River Districts thereby limiting households’ access to livestock products. At the same time, agropastoralists in northern Wajir and Moyale, central Isiolo, and southeastern Ijara Districts have not planted any crops due to the erratic rains and insecurity. Crop production in these livelihood zones contributes 20 to 30 percent of cash income and 30 to 45 percent of annual food supply. Consequently, the lean season may start earlier than usual in June, and food consumption gaps are likely to intensify through September.

    While assessments are upcoming, the long rains maize harvests are projected to be less than 60 percent of average in the marginal mixed farming areas of Kitui, Mwingi, and Makueni Districts, and most of the coastal hinterland by the water requirements satisfaction index (WRSI) model. In these areas, the long rains season is the minor season accounting for about 30 percent of annual crop output. The long rains harvest is important this year because the primary season, the 2011 short rains, failed. Household food access is likely to decline precariously from July onwards due to diminishing availability of milk and of casual labor opportunities, an expected below normal long rains harvests, and above average food prices. The majority of farmers have not significantly repaid debts taken out during previous poor seasons or rebuilt their livestock herds. They may increasingly engage in negative coping strategies to bridge food gaps. For instance, activities such as distant labor migrations or withdrawing children from schools to engage in income generating activities may increase starting in July. 

     

    Figures Figure 1: Rainfall anomaly in millimeters (mm) from March 1 to May 29, 2012

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: NOAA/CPC/FEWS NET

    FEWS NET will publish an Alert to highlight a current or anticipated shock expected to drive a sharp deterioration in food security, such that a humanitarian food assistance response is imminently needed.

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