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Improvement in food security due to February to March harvest

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Kenya
  • March 2013
Improvement in food security due to February to March harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    Key Messages
    • The food insecure population declined to 1.1 million in February 2013 from 2.1 million in August 2012 according to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) 2013 short rains assessment. This was attributed to near average short rains crop production and improved grazing conditions compared to the 2012 August to September lean season. 

    • However, abnormally high February temperatures have accelerated the deterioration of grazing conditions and led to a decline in milk production in pastoral livelihood zones. Accelerated deterioration of grazing conditions is likely to result in deterioration of the food security through April. 

    • Household food stocks from the February to March harvest are likely to last through June in the southeastern and coastal livelihood zones. However, poor storage facilities and immediate cash needs may drive early selling and result in earlier than normal depletion of short rains food stocks and therefore, constraining household food access by May. 

    Current Situation
    • The short rains harvest has almost been concluded in most parts of the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural livelihood zones. The harvest was more than 50 percent above average in the northern parts of the southeastern marginal mixed farming livelihood zone including Meru North District, but it was below average in the rest of the southeastern and coastal livelihood zones. Nevertheless, the harvest seasonally improved food availability and access, and it induced a seasonal decline in market dependency in February compared to January. Concurrently, the seasonal increase in maize supply on markets from February to March harvest has continued to place downward pressure on maize prices. Overall, the short rains harvest had near average production.
    • In much of the Southeast and the Coast, February grazing conditions were good, but they have deteriorated since late January due to the ongoing dry season, but livestock body conditions have remained fair and stable. February cattle and goats prices remained above their five-year averages, but increases were notable in Mwingi District due to conflicts between pastoralists and agropastoralists, which led to decline in livestock supply in markets. With the exception of Lamu District where the proportion of children ‘at risk’ of malnutrition--those with mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) less than 135 millimeters (mm)--was above the five-year average, the proportion of children under five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition remained below their respective five-year averages from January to February.
    • In February, households consumed food from their own food stocks or from market purchases funded by casual labor from harvesting of short rains crops and early land preparation for the March to May long rains season. These sources of food and income made it possible for households to meet their minimum food requirements. As a result, the food security situation is Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural livelihood zones. However, the risk of deterioration is high in the marginal lowlands where performance of the short rains was below normal including parts Kitui, Kwale, Makueni, Mwingi, and Taita Taveta Districts.
    • In much of the pastoral livelihood zones, including northeastern pastoral, northwestern pastoral, and northern pastoral livelihood zones, the February food security situation improved marginally compared to January with the exception of Ijara District where grazing distances were considerably above average, and the quality of pasture and browse was poor. This improvement in food security was driven by the availability of pasture, browse, and water. However, due to the dry season across the pastoral livelihood zones, grazing conditions have started deteriorating. Deterioration of grazing conditions has triggered normal seasonal livestock migration in parts of Ijara, Turkana, Mandera, Tana River, and West Pokot Districts.
    • February cattle and goat prices increased compared to January and remained above their five-year average prices, driven by fair body conditions and increased demand for livestock, meat, and milk. However, milk production marginally declined in February compared to January in Garissa, Mandera, Turkana, Lamu, and Tana River Districts resulting to marginal increase in prices making it more difficult to access milk. Despite the constrained milk access, the proportion of children under five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition remained below their five-year averages between January and February in much of the pastoral livelihood zones due to the ongoing interventions and improvements in livestock to cereals terms of trade, driven by increases in livestock prices while maize prices remained relatively stable between January and February. Exceptions are found in parts of Turkana District including Loima, Kainuk, Kakuma, Katilu, and Kerio Divisions where the proportion of children ‘at risk’ remained considerably above their five-year averages. In the pastoral livelihood zones, food security outcomes are Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Kenya Food Security Outlook for January to June 2013 remain unchanged, and none of the assumptions were modified in the February Food Security Outlook Update. However, changes in the political environment necessitate updating the following assumption:

    In January, it was assumed that intensifying political activities would disrupt markets, livelihoods, and school activities. Luckily, disruptions of these normal activities by political activities and any associated violence have been minimal.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Available food stocks may last through June, but sales due to lack of proper storage facilities and immediate cash needs may result in earlier than normal depletion of stocks, leading to an earlier start of market dependency by May, a time when maize prices will be increasing. In addition, due to unusually high temperatures in marginal mixed farming livelihood zones, grazing conditions are deteriorating faster than usual, resulting in reduced milk availability and consumption. The March to May long rains, although not the primary season in southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural livelihood zones, will be average to below average in terms of volume, but they are likely to result in some recovery of grazing conditions and seasonal increase in casual labor which will likely keep up with the possible increase in maize prices from April to June. Food security is expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in these areas through June.

    Available pasture, browse, and water are likely to last through April in the pastoral livelihood zones. These conditions will likely sustain livestock production and keep livestock prices near their current above-average levels. Through March, grazing conditions are likely to seasonally deteriorate faster than normal in the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone due to the ongoing, warmer-than-usual dry season. Reduced pasture availability is already reducing milk production, and milk production will decrease while malnutrition is likely to increase between now and June. Food security will however, remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) but with a high risk of deterioration by June if the March to May long rains are below average or poorly distributed.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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