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Following good performance of long rains since March, food security improves in eastern areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Kenya
  • May 2013
Following good performance of long rains since March, food security improves in eastern areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • The March to May long rains have been average to above average in amounts in the Southeastern Marginal Mixed Farming and pastoral livelihood zones, but they are expected to cease normally in mid-May. In most parts of the Coastal Marginal Agricultural Mixed Farming livelihood zone, rainfall will likely peak in May/June and cease in June/July.

    • The long rains have improved cropping and livestock conditions. Increased availability of casual labor, availability of early maturing vegetables, increased milk availability, and relatively stable food prices in much of the marginal mixed farming and pastoral livelihood zones between March and April has continued to improve food security outcomes.

    • Considerable levels of malnutrition persist in localized areas of the Coastal Marginal Agricultural Mixed Farming livelihood zone where rainfall has been below normal and in localized areas of the pastoral livelihood zones due to floods, which have damaged roads, resulting in general food price increases from March to April in these areas. 


    Current Situation
    • The March to May long rains performance has been average to above average in terms of total amount in much of the Southeastern Marginal Mixed Farming livelihood zone including in Kitui, Kieni, and Makueni Counties, and Mwingi District. They have received from 60 to 160 percent or more of normal rainfall, supporting crop development and the recovery of rangeland conditions.
    • Maize is knee high, and the first weeding and topdressing are ongoing in much of the Southeast. Early maturing vegetables are available for household consumption. Casual labor opportunities have increased considerably in April compared to March, enhancing poor household’s capacity to purchase food items that are not produced by the households, thus diversifying diets. However, in the coastal marginal mixed farming areas, land preparation is ongoing, including in much of Kwale, Kilifi, and Lamu Counties. The exception on the coast is Taita Taveta County where rains have already started and planting has already taken place,
    • Because of good grazing conditions, livestock body conditions improved in April compared to March resulting to almost 10 percent milk increase in Mwingi and Kieni Districts from March to April while availability of green harvest improved considerably in April diversifying the household’s diets. Improved dietary diversity and nutritional interventions maintained the proportion of children below five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition—with a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) below 135 millimeters (mm)—below the five-year average in April. With improved milk availability, increased casual labor opportunities, and diversified diets, households are able to afford at least their minimum food requirements. Their food security remains Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, considerable ‘at risk’ of malnutrition levels persist in parts of the Southeastern Marginal Mixed Farming livelihood zone in parts of Mwingi District including Mui and Ngomeni and in the Coastal Marginal Mixed Farming livelihood zone in parts of Kwale County. In these areas, households have already depleted their food stocks from the short rains harvest in February and March.
    • In the pastoral livelihood zones, the long rains in April improved the availability of and access to water, pasture, and browse in areas that were particularly poor in March, including in Merti and Garbatulla in Isiolo County, in parts of Ijara, and in Mandera County. However, there are pockets of water stress where rainfall has been poorer in Isiolo, Turkana, and Marsabit. The rains resulted in flash floods in Garissa, Isiolo, Malindi, Tana River, and Turkana Counties destroying infrastructure and reducing market access, which reduced the amount of food in markets in April. Consequently, maize prices increased by more than six percent from March to April in these areas.
    • Cattle prices increased by more than 10 percent in Ijara, Marsabit, Moyale, Turkana, and Wajir in April compared to March. Cattle and goat prices remained more than 75 percent above five-year average in much of the pastoral livelihood zones driven by good body conditions and reduced supply to the markets as households are delaying livestock sales in favor of fattening the animals.
    • Seasonal improvement in livestock body conditions and milk production continued between March and April. Calving, kidding, and lambing coincided with good long rains as birth rates reportedly increased in April compared to March. Migration back to wet season grazing areas near homesteads in Turkana, Isiolo, Ijara, and Wajir increased the number of milking females around homesteads, improving household access to milk. As a result, the proportion of children under five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition remained below their respective five-year county averages, and they declined by more than seven percent between March and April. Acute food insecurity is classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). but this general picture masks the high levels of malnutrition that persist in the parts of Isiolo, Marsabit, and Turkana Counties, where the long rains have been below average and grazing conditions have not adequately regenerated. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions made in the Kenya Food Security Outlook for April to September 2013 remain unchanged.


    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    The long rains are expected to decline in intensity and cease normally in mid-May across the Southeast. However, the cessation may interfere with maize development. Maize is likely to be at the tasseling stage in late May in many areas, and cessation may therefore reduce the yields in July compared with what they would be if the rains tapered off more slowly. In addition, pre- and post-harvest losses are likely to lower the amount of the long rains crop available for household consumption or sales by July. However, improved availability of early, green vegetable and the availability of green maize and legumes from early June through July are expected to diversify diets and sustain food consumption. Moreover, demand for weeding labor through May and harvesting labor in June/July will keep labor opportunities available, providing cash income and some purchasing capacity. The rains are expected to peak in May/June in the coastal areas and they will improve labor availability, crop development, and grazing conditions there through June. Between July and September, consumption is likely to be sustained by the replenished stocks from the June to August long rains harvest. With income from casual labor and availability of the green harvest in June, and likely later replenishment of food stocks, households are likely to be able to afford minimum food requirements; food security outcomes are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    In the pastoral livelihood zones, regenerated pasture and water availability is likely to sustain the recent improvements for livestock through September. Milk consumption is expected to increase through June as herds continue to migrate back to the wet grazing areas closer to homesteads. A few localized areas are likely to experience water deficits, but water trucking by humanitarian organizations and the government will partly mitigate the negative impacts in some areas. The lean season, which is likely to start in August, is expected to be less severe than normal since there has been better than average regeneration of pasture and availability of water. Continued availability of milk and income from livestock as prices remain high will enable households to acquire at least their minimum food requirements. As a result, acute food insecurity is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. However, below normal rainfall, low milk availability, and elevated food prices in localized areas are likely to negatively affect food security outcomes in some areas, but they will likely not result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    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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