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Food security to continue deteriorating until the start of the short rains

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Kenya
  • September 2014
Food security to continue deteriorating until the start of the short rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through December 2014
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    Key Messages
    • Normal to above-normal cumulative October to December short rains are expected in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, the eastern parts of Samburu and Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Tana River, Garissa, and Wajir Counties. This is likely to result in food security improvements, with majority of households in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas moving to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), and those in pastoral areas being Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December.  

    • Food insecurity has continued to deteriorate with the start of the August to October lean season in northern pastoral areas. However, the decline has been moderated with some unusual, off-season rains that have provided water and led to some pasture regrowth. The majority of households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but households in some areas are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • In the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, food security also deteriorated further as households’ reliance on markets peaks while there are few income-earning opportunities. Most households are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through November with improvements as short-cycle crops become available.

    Current Situation
    • Food security in the northwestern and northeastern pastoral areas continued to deteriorate along with the marked decline in forage availability. Distances to grazing and water points increased 10 to 20 percent over the last month. Some pastoral areas received light, off-season rains in August, which supported some regeneration of pasture and browse and recharged some water sources. Households are not consuming much milk as milk production remains seasonally low and most livestock are far from households. Milk purchase is hampered by low purchasing power. Malnutrition remains high as in recent months. Ongoing nutrition interventions have not yet led to better nutrition outcomes. Most pastoral areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and there remain areas in Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Baringo, and West Pokot in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) where access to food is even more limited and water and forage availability are even less.
    • Between July and August, livestock prices were stable in many areas. For example, goat prices were fairly stable in Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Mandera, Garissa, and Tana River. In Wajir and Isiolo, goat prices declined five to 10 percent, but they unusually increased eight to 13 percent in Baringo and West Pokot. Plausibly, the desire by pastoralists to hold onto their livestock in anticipation of improved rangeland conditions during the October to December short rains and increased distances to markets could be some of the factors that have caused low supply in these markets.
    • Food security also continued to decline in the southeastern, marginal, agricultural areas. Market dependence is at its peak, but income-earning opportunities remain difficult to find at this time of year. While households have little income, their purchasing power decline has been moderated by continued stability or recent declines in staple food prices in some areas. Retail maize prices declined five to 10 percent in Kitui, Makueni, and Tharaka. They remained stable in Meru and Embu. The increased flow of imported maize into these markets has ensured stable market supply and prices. Prices remained 10 to 25 percent above their five-year averages in Kitui, Tharaka, and Meru, but they are near average in Makueni and Embu. The expected harvest from the high- and medium-potential areas is likely to ensure that prices remain stable due to adequate supply through October. Households are able to meet their minimum food needs and remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Kenya Food Security Outlook for July to December 2014 remain unchanged, but one assumption has been revised:

    • The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) latest forecast for the October to December short rains suggests rainfall amounts will be near normal. The rainfall is likely to be normal to above-normal in the southeastern marginal agricultural areas in Kitui, Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, and the coastal marginal agriculture areas in Kilifi, Kwale, and Lamu, and pastoral areas in the eastern parts of Samburu, and in Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Tana River, Garissa, and Wajir (Figure 1). However, pastoral areas of Turkana, the western parts of Marsabit and Samburu, Baringo, Kajiado, Narok, and the southern parts of Kitui, Makueni, and Taita Taveta Counties are likely to have near-normal to below-normal rainfall. The start and end of the rains are expected to be timely with distribution both over time and space being mostly normal.

    Projected Outlook Through December 2014

    In the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, food security is expected to continue deteriorating through October, but it will improve following the start of the short rains in October. At that time, agricultural labor demand will increase, providing income to meet food and non-food needs. The majority of the food-insecure households are expected to spend a significant proportion of their income on agricultural input purchases. Short-cycle crops should mature towards the end of November, further increasing household food access. With improved household food security expected from November, the majority of households are expected to move to None (IPC Phase 1) though a significant number of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).                                                                                                              

    In pastoral areas, food security will also continue deteriorating through October. After the start of the short rains, water replenishment and pasture and browse regeneration are expected to have led to notably improved availability by November. Following the start of the rains, livestock will be migrated back to wet-season grazing areas closer to homesteads. Kidding, lambing, and calving are expected to start in November, increasing milk production, household food access, and eventually nutrition. With improved forage, livestock body conditions will improve, and livestock prices are expected to subsequently start increasing. Cereal prices in these markets are expected to decline starting in November, as harvests begin to come in from surplus-producing areas. Livestock-to-cereal terms of trade will likely increase further. The areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) likely to receive average to above-average amounts of rain are likely to have substantial improvements in rangeland conditions, with most households in these areas improving back to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In pastoral areas projected to receive below-average rainfall in the Northwest and the South, the most likely scenario points to some limited improvements in food security through January, with majority of households expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. October to December 2014 short rains season forecast

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. October to December 2014 short rains season forecast

    Source: Kenya Meteorological Service

    Figure 3


    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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