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Food security likely to deteriorate further in pastoral areas and the Southeast

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Kenya
  • June 2014
Food security likely to deteriorate further in pastoral areas and the Southeast

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2014
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    Key Messages
    • Well below average March to May long rains in the southeastern and coastal marginal lowlands are likely to lead to a below average maize harvest. Food security will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though some households in localized areas might be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September.
    • Preliminary projections for long rains crop production in late 2014 suggest that maize output and carryover stocks will be further below national usage than normal. While imports may keep prices fairly steady in the Southeast between now and August, by September, maize prices are likely to start to steadily rise.
    • In pastoral areas, rangelands did not fully regenerate during the long rains. They are expected to deteriorate faster than usual during the dry season. The resulting reduced milk production and consumption, low livestock prices, and rising staple food prices will lead households to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    Current Situation
    • The 2014 March to May long rains ceased by late May/early June in many parts of the country including the southern and northern Rift Valley, the western highlands, and the Lake Victoria Basin, the southeastern and coastal lowlands, and the northern and southern pastoral areas. The cumulative March to May long rains were generally below average over most parts of the country with localized exceptions. Due to the below average rainfall, crops and forage have not grown at their usual season rates in the central Rift Valley of Narok and Kajiado Counties, the southeastern and coastal lowland areas in Kitui, Makueni, and Taita Taveta Counties, and the northwestern pastoral areas in Turkana, Baringo, Marsabit, and West Pokot Counties.
    • In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, maize is performing poorly at various stages of development. The early planted maize crop is at the cobbing stage while late planted was at the tasselling stage. Most legumes, like beans, pigeon peas, cow peas, green grams, are nearing maturity. Harvesting of legumes started in localized areas in Makueni, Kitui, Mwingi, Tharaka Nithi, Kwale, and Taita Taveta. Maize prices are fairly stable in Kitui, Mwingi, Makueni, and Taita Taveta, but increased eight to 15 percent in Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Kwale, Kilifi, and Lamu Counties between April and May. Imports of maize from Tanzania have helped stabilize maize prices which have been mostly steady since late 2013. However, the maize market remains tight. Current prices remain up to 50 percent above their respective five-year averages. Household income-earning opportunities are becoming less available as agricultural labor opportunities decline, constraining market access.  Most households are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • In pastoral areas, the long rains were below average. Seasonal improvements in grazing conditions were modest. Pasture, browse, and water availability are fair-to-good but deteriorating more rapidly than usual, especially in Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, and Samburu. Subsequently, livestock body conditions have already started degrading. Distances from grazing areas to water points are comparable to last month at between seven and nine kilometers (km) in Turkana, Marsabit, Moyale, Samburu, and Garissa. These are all above normal for this time of the year when they are normally less than six km. The majority of households in pastoral areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • Several localized areas had inadequate rainfall during the October to December short rains. In these areas, rangeland recovery has been even more limited. In these areas, there were also security incidents since mid-last year which disrupted normal income-earning activities. Though insecurity has declined since then,  households have yet to recover. These areas include parts of Loima, Kainuk, Lapur, and Kaaling Sub-counties in Turkana and North Horr and Loiyangalani Sub-counties in Marsabit, which remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Current livestock body conditions ranged from fair to good, supported by the fair but deteriorating rangeland conditions. Livestock prices varied across different regions. Goat prices remained fairly stable from April to May in Lodwar, Marsabit, Garissa, and Isiolo as goat body conditions were mostly good. Goat prices declined by 11 and 20 percent in Moyale and Mandera, respectively, due to poor body conditions and increased supply to the market in Moyale. The livestock to cereal terms of trade are still favorable as maize prices have remained fairly stable.
    • Food security has deteriorated since March in agropastoral areas, including Baringo, West Pokot, Laikipia, Narok, and Kajiado Counties. The well below average March to May rainfall led to below normal regeneration of forage and water. These resources are deteriorating faster and earlier than normal due to the poor rainfall. Distances to water points for livestock have increased from five km or less in April to more than five km in May. In places like Baringo, livestock have remained in dry-season grazing areas. Poor regeneration of rangelands have affected livestock productivity, resulting in reduced milk production. Also, conflict has disrupted markets in parts of Baringo.
    • In agropastoral areas, cereal prices have started increasing seasonally, with maize price increases of 10 to 20 percent reported in Laikipia and West Pokot between April and May. The increase is primarily attributed to households having depleted their stocks, in some cases two months earlier than normal, and making more market purchases than usual for this time of year. Goat prices have remained fairly stable between April and May. Malnutrition rates, measured by the proportion of children ‘at risk’ of malnutrition, defined as having mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) less than 135 millimeters (mm), continue to be within seasonally normal ranges. Exceptions were found in Baringo and West Pokot Counties where the proportion of children ‘at risk’ increased 13 to 25 percent from April to May.

    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Kenya Food Security Outlook for April to September 2014 as updated in the May 2014 Food Security Outlook Update remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook Through September 2014

    Cumulative March to May rainfall has been well below average in the grain basket of the Rift Valley highlands. Coupled with the expected depressed June to September rainfall, these areas are likely to experience a below average harvest from October to February. Though estimates have not been provided, the Ministry of Agriculture anticipates that production will be less than last year and the five-year average long-rains production of 2.68 million metric tons (MMT).  The reduction in output is mainly attributed to crop losses and very low production in the grain basket areas of the Rift Valley due to the extended dry spell in April and May, which not only affected germination but also lead to increased incidence of pests and diseases, especially Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) in Bomet, Narok, and Nyamira Counties. Carryover stocks from the previous season are also quite low. The Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) only has 270,000 metric tons (MT) in it. The projected increase in cross-border imports from Tanzania, estimated at 135,000 MT between June and August, and the early harvest from the southern Rift Valley including Bomet, Transmara, Nyamira, and Narok South Counties along with other areas of the country including Makueni, Kitui, Machakos, Siaya, Busia, and Teso will ensure normal levels of market supply at the national level through August. However, from September, the expected low national output at a time of high commodity demand will likely result in unusual price increases in western Kenya and larger urban markets. Even following the start of the harvest in October, maize prices may remain high or continue rising. With below-average household incomes, price increases for maize will result in reduced purchasing power for poor, urban consumers as well as poor households in the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas.

    In the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming areas, harvesting of the short-cycle crops like beans, pigeon peas, cowpeas, and green grams has started and is expected to continue through mid-July, temporarily improving household food consumption. Though legumes will provide some food and income for a while, volumes are expected to be below average. The lingering effects of the below average 2013 short rains harvest coupled with the expected below average maize harvest in August, is likely to worsen household food security by September. Staple food prices are expected to rise, albeit gradually, through August. Typical imports from Tanzania will moderate any sharp increase in maize prices before August. After that, due to a very tight national maize market, prices are likely to rise more steadily. Though on-farm labor opportunities are currently dwindling and likely to continue to do so into the July through September dry season, households will still able to engage in other off-farm casual labor opportunities, petty trade, and receive remittances, thereby affording their minimal dietary requirements. Most households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. The lean season is likely to start earlier than normal in July in localized areas such as Kitui South and Tharaka North and South Sub-counties. Some of these households are at risk of entering Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September.

    In pastoral and agropastoral areas, food security remains largely Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The expected earlier than normal start of the lean season, July instead of August, is due to households having had less access to food than usual during the March to May long rains. Due to the below average rainfall, many areas are already experiencing faster than normal erosion of rangeland resources. Livestock prices started declining a month earlier than expected in some markets, May instead of June, as livestock body conditions did not improve as much as usual during the rains. These prices are expected to continue falling until the start of the short rains in October. With the cereal prices expected to continue rising beyond August, reinforced by the expectations of a below average harvest from surplus-producing areas, households’ purchasing power will be further eroded. Most areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). With rangeland conditions deteriorating and associated poor livestock body conditions in agropastoral areas, goat prices are likely to further decline. Insecurity and associated disruptions to market access and income-earning opportunities are likely to compound the effects of the poor season in parts of Wajir, Mandera, Turkana, and Baringo. Households in localized areas of Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, and Baringo are likely to fall into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September. Harvests in July and August in early-harvesting areas is unlikely to moderate local grain prices, as supply will remain tight in the pastoral and agropastoral markets where transaction costs tend to be high and which are located long distances from areas of harvest. In these areas maize prices are likely to remain near their lean season levels for longer than other areas of the country.

    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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