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Improvements in food security to be moderated by below-average short rains

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Kenya
  • December 2014
Improvements in food security to be moderated by below-average short rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2015
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    Key Messages
    • October to December rainfall has so far been below average and is expected to remain so with the rains ending very soon and on time. Normal to below normal recovery of rangeland resources is likely in most pastoral and agropastoral areas, and crops have so far not developed to normal levels in the southeastern marginal agricultural areas.

    • The short rains harvest is expected to be below average in the southeastern marginal agricultural areas. Food security will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March.

    • In the northeastern pastoral areas, rainfall since October has been far below average and not much additional rain is expected for the remainder of the year. It has been driest in Isiolo, Garissa, and Wajir. As a result, rangeland conditions are expected to deteriorate faster than normal during the dry season from January to March. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but localized areas including in Merti Sub-county in Isiolo, Daadab Sub-county in Garissa, and Hadado and Sebule Sub-counties in Wajir will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through March.

    Current Situation
    • In the northwestern pastoral areas of Turkana, Samburu, parts of Marsabit, West Pokot, and Baringo, rainfall amounts since the beginning of October have been near average to above average. This has caused marked improvements in rangeland resources, which are currently fair to good. Livestock body conditions also range from fair to good, and livestock productivity and prices have increased.
    • In the northeastern pastoral areas, especially in Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, and parts of Tana River, the rains since October have been significantly below average. Only modest improvements in rangeland conditions have been reported. Livestock body conditions are poor to fair with minimal improvement since the start of the rains. Most households in both the northwestern and northeastern pastoral areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, localized areas in Isiolo, Wajir, and Garissa have had continued deterioration of rangeland conditions since the end of last season. These areas are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Livestock prices across pastoral areas have increased since October, albeit marginally, in response to the slow recovery of livestock body conditions. Generally, livestock prices increased five to 15 percent in Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, West Pokot, and Baringo Counties. Prices remained fairly stable in Marsabit and Garissa, but in part, this was due to very few markets being active. Most livestock had been migrated away from these areas. In Garissa, most livestock markets were closed as trade was not taking place due to livestock migration. Unlike other areas, livestock prices in Isiolo decreased by up to 10 percent between October and November due to continued deterioration of livestock body conditions.
    • Thus far, the October to December short rains have been poorly distributed temporally and spatially in the Southeast. They have been below average in amount in most areas. In Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, and Nyeri, crops are at varying stages of development. Crops that had to be replanted due to dry spells are only at early stages of development. The short-cycle pulses are at flowering or pod-formation stages, and cereals are generally knee height. Casual, agricultural labor continued to be the primary source of income. With staple food prices remaining fairly stable or declining slightly in some areas, household food consumption continues to slowly improve as the short rains season ends. The majority of households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Kenya Food Security Outlook for October 2014 to March 2015 as updated in the November Food Security Outlook Update remain unchanged, but the following revisions have been made:

    • In November, it was assumed that the October to December short rains would be average to slightly below average in cumulative amount. The remainder of the short rains in December are likely to be near average to below-average in amount with fairly erratic distribution over space and time, especially in the Southeast. The northern pastoral areas are likely to remain mostly dry.
    • Cessation of the short rains is expected in the third or fourth week of December in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas and occurred during the first and second week of December in the North.

    Projected Outlook Through March 2015

    In the northern pastoral areas, with the expected normal timing of the end of the rains means most areas will not have the improved conditions for raising livestock that were expected in earlier reports. Poor rangeland conditions mean that there will not be improved food security outcomes, especially in northeastern pastoral areas in Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa. When the dry season starts in January, there will be a faster than normal depletion of rangeland resources. Livestock productivity is likely to decrease faster than expected, resulting in reduced availability of livestock products like milk, falling livestock prices, and less household income. With less income, household food consumption will not increase as expected. Though the majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), some poor pastoral households in parts of Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through March.

    Similarly, in the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, the below normal rainfall is likely to result in a below-average short rains harvest in February/March. With extensive replanting, even short-cycle crops like legumes, which would normally be consumed in December and January will not be mature at that time. Below average food production is therefore expected between January and March, with poor households unlikely to obtain enough food, resulting in some food consumption gaps. However, households will have some income from casual agricultural labor opportunities, mainly land preparation for the long rains season in February and March, but these will be less available than usual. Below-average household income is likely to constrain market purchases for the majority of poor households. Food security is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2015.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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