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Food security primarily remains stable with the early end of the long rains in May

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Kenya
  • July - December 2013
Food security primarily remains stable with the early end of the long rains in May

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • Food security is Stressed (IPC Phase 2) but stable in much of the country’s arid and semi-arid areas with normal market availability of food and relatively stable prices coming into the lean season. Grain from the high- and medium-potential areas are expected to be near average and will enhance food availability by replenishing both household and national food stocks. 

    • In the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones, the long rains season yields in July/August for maize are likely to be considerably below average because of the early cessation of the long rains. However, drought-resistant legumes and cereals are likely to have near average yields to support food consumption through September. 

    • In the pastoral livelihood zones, a faster than normal degeneration of rangeland conditions due to the early cessation of the rains is likely to lead to deteriorating livestock body conditions which would reduce livestock values and result in a decline in household incomes, constraining purchasing power.

    • Food security is likely to deteriorate in parts of the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone as rangeland conditions seasonally degenerate. Some deterioration will also occur in the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones as income from sales of legumes is offset by high maize prices. 


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    The consumer price index (CPI) increased by five percent between May and June 2013. Month-on-month inflation reached 4.9 in June 2013, almost half of the level of June 2012. The June 2013 prices were 50 percent higher than they were five years ago, indicating the rising cost of living. Compared to June 2012, food prices were seven percent higher in June 2013. Between May and June 2013 consumer price inflation was driven by increases in food prices. Increases in food prices and those of non-alcoholic beverages contributed almost 50 percent to the overall inflation rate, according to estimates from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), likely further reducing purchasing power.

    The March to May long rains ceased over most parts of the country. Most parts of the country including the Northwest, the Northeast, parts of eastern highlands in the Rift Valley, parts of the northern coast, and parts of the southeastern lowlands received more than 125 percent of the five-year average of total rains, according to the Kenya Meteorological Department. In the western highlands, including in Kitale, Eldoret, Kericho, and Kisii, crops are performing well.

    Despite the near average total rainfall in the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones, the rains ceased early and at a critical stage of crop development, especially for maize. As a result, crops wilted before maturity, except for some leguminous crops including cowpeas and pigeon peas. Except for some pockets in northern coastal areas, the long rains’ early cessation is likely to lead to below average production of both maize and other cereals.

    In the pastoral livelihood zones, near average to above average total rainfall resulted in pasture regeneration and increased water availability.

    Maize prices remained stable from March to June with marginal declines between May and June. The June average wholesale maize prices for Eldoret, Kisumu, Nairobi, and Mombasa, was just nine percent above the five-year average. The stability observed in maize prices is attributed to the expectation of a near average long rains harvest from the high- and medium-potential areas. Imports of maize through formal and informal cross-border trade have both helped increase maize supply and stabilized domestic maize prices. In May, more than 27,000 metric tons (MT) were imported informally through Moyale, Isebania, Busia, and Taita Taveta border points, stabilizing maize prices around those points and in some destination markets.

    So far, even though the March to May long rains season ceased early in the Southeast and tended to be below average in terms of total rainfall in the coastal marginal agricultural mixed farming livelihood zone, food security has remained stable but Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Relatively stable food prices, the availability the harvest of the drought-resistant legumes, declining fuel prices, and marginal increases in wages and casual labor opportunities have allowed households to access food. Malnutrition rates have generally remained below the five-year average. In pastoral areas, pasture regeneration and the refilling of water sources have maintained food security at Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Assumptions

    From July to December 2013, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following key assumptions:

    • While the long rains have already ceased in most parts of the country, in parts of the highlands west of the Rift Valley, the Lake Victoria basin, parts of the central Rift Valley, and the southern coastal strip, the remaining long rains through August are likely to be near normal to below normal in terms of total rainfall. The northern coastal strip is also likely to receive near normal total to above normal total coastal rainfall over this time period.  
    • The October to December short rains are likely to start normally, and they are likely to be average to tending to below average in terms of total rainfall.
    • Despite the good onset of the March to May long rains in the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones, the maize harvests in July/Augusts is expected to be below average. Legumes including pigeon peas and cowpeas are expected to have near average yields in July/August.
    • However, the maize harvest in the high- and medium-potential areas is expected to be average to slightly below average, but it will considerably replenish national stocks as early as August.
    • A gradual increase in maize prices is expected through December 2013 driven by the early cessation of the long rains in some areas and a near average supply of maize from high potential areas and imports. Currently, wholesale maize prices are about 10 percent above the five-year average, and by December, maize prices are likely to be higher. Maize prices will be kept elevated by expectations of depressed yields in the southeastern and coastal areas due to the likely average to below average October to December short rains.
    • As a result of the average to below average amounts of the October to December short rains, the availability of casual labor opportunities is expected to be below normal, driven by a decline in the level of agricultural activities and productivity from October through December. Consequently, casual labor incomes from land preparation in September, planting in October, and weeding in November and December is likely to be below average.
    • Pasture, browse, and water are expected to be available to support livestock development and milk production through July. However, during the dry season between August and October, deterioration of rangeland conditions is expected, leading to a decline in milk production until kidding and lambing begin with the onset of the short rains in October.
    • The likely seasonal increase in temperatures from August to October is likely to lead to the deterioration of rangeland conditions. Pasture, browse, and water availability will improve from October to December following the onset of the short rains, despite the fact that total rainfall could be average to below average.
    • Livestock prices are expected to remain elevated and above their five-year averages through December, driven by general, continued demand for meat. However, in September, prices are likely to slightly decline due to increased supply in the markets as households sell livestock in order to pay school fees in September. After September, livestock prices are likely to increase gradually, driven by demand both for live animals for draught power during the short rains season and continuous demand for meat as the December holidays approach.
    • Malnutrition is expected to remain stable through July due to the availability of milk and other foods to many households. However, as milk availability declines and the lean season sets in around August, malnutrition is expected to increase but not above the five-year average levels except in localized areas which have especially poor rangeland conditions or that have been affected by conflict.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In much of the country, food security is expected to remain stable but Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through August. Income sources, particularly from crop sales, casual labor, and livestock and livestock product sales are expected to remain stable through August. In the western highlands, including in Kitale, Eldoret, Kericho, and Kisii Counties, crops are performing well and average yields are expected as the harvest starts in August. Food prices are expected to remain above their five-year averages and increase gradually through August, but household income should be sufficient for purchases in many areas. As a result, a majority of households are likely to be able to afford their minimum food requirements. Harvests of legumes in the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming areas will complement purchased foods. The effects of an average, national harvest are expected to be transmitted to the pastoral areas through stable and affordable maize prices to the households who have income from livestock sales and also have access to milk. As a result, households will be able to purchase enough food to meet their minimum dietary requirements, and nutrition is unlikely to worsen through August. There will be very little income left though for some of the essential non-food items such as school fees.

    However, between September and December, food security is expected to deteriorate but not to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in parts of northern Kenya where rangeland conditions are likely to have deteriorated through the June to September dry season and areas that have experienced inter-clan conflict. Declines in milk production before the calving and lambing in November are likely to result in reduced milk sales, and hence, household income. Likely food price increases will make it difficult for households whose livestock will have migrated to afford food. Milk consumption will have declined as a result of poor milk availability and this will likely increase malnutrition rates. 


    Areas of Concern

    Southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones

    Current Situation

    In the Southeastern Marginal Mixed Farming livelihood zone, the early cessation of long rains in May resulted in the wilting of crops in Makueni, Nyeri, and Taita Taveta Counties. Food prices, particularly the price of maize, remained stable or marginally increased between May and June and are above their five-year average in many markets across these livelihood zones. Availability of casual labor opportunities was average earlier in the season, and these continued to provide some income to poor households in May and June. With maize prices remaining relatively constant between May and June, food consumption remained stable since households could access food using available casual labor income. In Coastal Marginal Agricultural Mixed Farming livelihood zone including most of Kilifi and Malindi Counties and parts of Kwale County, households are currently harvesting green maize. Households’ food consumption has also been supported by the availability of green-harvested, drought-resistant legumes including pigeon peas and cowpeas.

    While rangeland conditions were largely average in June, there was deterioration in rangeland conditions between May and June with distances to water points increasing and pasture and browse quality declining seasonally as the dry season started to set in Nyeri, Makueni, Lamu, and Taita Taveta Counties. However, livestock body conditions remained near average between May and June, but milk production volume marginally declined and remained slightly below the five-year average in much of the region. In Lamu, below average milk production was reported, resulting from the migration of livestock away from homesteads to dry season grazing areas.

    Availability of drought-resistant crops and the green harvest supported food consumption. Food security remains Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Between May and June, changes in the level of malnutrition were not significant across much of the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones with the exception of Lamu County where nutrition continued to increase and remained above the five-year average. In part, the increase in malnutrition in Lamu County is driven by an increase in maize prices which increased by 21 percent between May and June and the below average milk availability, both of which constrained household food access.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions described above, the following assumptions have been made about the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones:

    • The mediocre performance of the March to May long rains means that casual labor opportunities will be below average and wages are likely to decline between July and October because the demand for casual labor will be low and the supply high. Households who depend on casual labor will likely have a reprieve in November as land preparation for the October to December short rains season starts, but this will be below average demand, as in the national assumption.
    • Through the August to November lean season, ongoing humanitarian assistance is expected to continue in those areas where the long rains season performed poorly.
    • Through December, remittances from semi-permanent labor migrants to urban areas are expected to increase steadily and peak between August and November in response to the poor performance of the long rains’ crops.
    • Households are expected to employ coping mechanisms including burning charcoal, harvesting sand, and vegetable farming around water points and along river banks where water is available during the August to November lean season.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The long rains maize harvest in July and August is expected to be as low as around a third of normal volume in the higher elevation areas where the maize is still maturing. In the marginal mixed farming areas at lower elevations, pigeon peas and cowpeas are being consumed green and will be harvested in July/August. Food security is likely to remain stable through August, supported by the availability of legumes from the long rains harvest in July and August which will provide both food and income to the poor in the marginal mixed farming livelihood zones. However, the harvesting of pigeon peas and cowpeas is expected to generate a below average number of labor opportunities with the harvest. Income from sales of these drought-resistant legumes, limited income from casual labor, and remittances are expected to strengthen households’ purchasing power. Households will be able to afford the minimum food basket through August. However, the available income will not be enough to pay for all essential non-food expenses. As a result, household food security will most likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Between August and October, before the onset of the October to December short rains, food security may deteriorate considerably in localized points including in Kibwezi, Mtito Andei, and Makindu in Makueni County, Ikutha in Kitui County, and Kinago in Kwale County where household stocks are already depleted and likely to be worse. Some of these areas may move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as consumption declines at the lean season intensifies in August and September.

    From October to December, an increase in the level of remittances and in livestock prices is likely. However, only a small proportion of the poor population sells livestock since only very small herds are kept. The onset of the short rains in October and November is expected to coincide with calving and kidding. Milk availability will increase at this time and improve nutritional status. Likely increases in casual labor opportunities through October and November because of land preparation and planting will be a source of income for the poor households though they will remain somewhat less available than usual due to the likely reduction in the amount of the rains. However, high food prices during this period will limit households’ ability to purchase food. Household food security and nutrition is expected to deteriorate at the end of the lean season but to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Northeastern pastoral livelihood zone

    Current Situation

    Rangeland conditions in much of the pastoral livelihood zones including in Mandera, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, and Wajir Counties deteriorated in quality between May and June. The rangeland conditions have deteriorated faster than normal in parts of Isiolo County including Sericho and Garbatulla Divisions, and in southern, eastern, and western Wajir County. The average household trekking distance to water points increased in June to six kilometers (km) compared to five km in May. Livestock trekking distances to water points increased from between four to five km in May to up to 12 km in June. The deterioration of rangeland conditions may have started earlier than usual as rainfall ended earlier than normal in early May. In response, compared to May, livestock body conditions deteriorated in June. The migration of livestock to dry season grazing areas, which usually starts in late July, had already started in late June.

    Deteriorating livestock body conditions have decreased livestock value and milk production in June compared to May. Cattle prices in Isiolo declined by almost eight percent although they remained stable in Garissa, Mandera, and Tana River between May and June. Livestock prices have also remained at least 30 percent above their five-year averages in the pastoral livelihood zones. Above average prices are being driven by the fact that households are still keeping livestock for fattening because of the expectation of higher prices towards the onset of the short rains in October. Food prices increased between May and June across much of the pastoral livelihood zones unlike the more stable trends in urban centers in Kenya.

    A combined effect of general decline in livestock prices and the declines in milk production against relatively constant food prices resulted in a deterioration of nutrition between May and June in Garissa, Mandera, and Tana River Counties. However, malnutrition rates remained below their five-year averages in Garissa and Mandera Counties, at least in part due to humanitarian interventions. In Tana River County, malnutrition slightly surpassed the five-year average in June, driven by the remaining effects of floods during the long rains in May. The floods contaminated drinking water and cut off markets for trade, resulting in increased in food prices. June maize prices in Tana River were 11 percent higher than May and 36 percent above the five-year average. In Mandera, malnutrition stems from inter-clan conflicts which have resulted in some deaths and displaced more than 10,000 households since March. These conflicts have also limited access to markets, constraining household food access.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions described above, the following assumptions have been made about the pastoral areas:

    • Both inter-clan conflict and conflict over access to grazing land and water is likely between now and December, especially in the Northeastern Pastoral livelihood zone. Normally, conflicts are expected to intensify through December, partly driven by the scarcity of pasture and water during the dry season and due to the recent recurrence and intensification of inter-clan conflict.
    • Through the lean season from August to October, humanitarian assistance including water trucking, nutritional supplementation, food aid, and cash transfers are expected to continue in those pastoral areas where rangeland conditions have already degenerated or conflict-related displacement has already occurred.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Food security is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December in the pastoral livelihood zones with the exception of a few areas in which faster than normal depletion of pasture, browse, and water are being experienced, due to the early end of the long rains, including parts of Isiolo, Mandera, and Wajir Counties. In these areas, food security is would be likely to deteriorate into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between July and September, except that the presence of humanitarian assistance will maintain food security outcomes at Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but only due to the assistance. Through August, food consumption will be supported by the availability of milk, which followed the lambing, kidding, and calving in April as well as running lactation from camels, which calved in December. Food trade inflows from cross-border trade with Somalia peak in July during the dry season, and this is likely to partially offset food price increases for a time before the seasonal increase in prices expected in August. Between August and November, migration to dry grazing areas will help maintain livestock body conditions and, hence, their value. Once migration is complete, a reduction in milk availability, especially for children located far from milking livestock, is likely to result in increased malnutrition. In localized areas, particularly those affected by conflict in Mandera and Wajir Counties and households who have been displaced by conflict or flooding, malnutrition may increase to above five-year average levels between August and November. 


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Nationwide

    Far below average maize yields during the long rains harvest in medium- and high-potential areas

    Far below average maize yields would result in an increase in maize prices. The increase in maize prices will likely filter into related products such as maize flour and complements, all of which would lead to higher food cost and reduced market access for households

    Southeastern and Coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones

    Significant maize price spikes due to poorer than expected production in medium- and high-potential areas or a major disruption of imported maize supply

    Reduced market access for maize would likely increase the number of food insecure households and the severity of food insecurity.

    Delayed onset of the short rains

    A delayed onset of the rains is likely to elongate the August to November lean season, delaying the availability of casual labor opportunities, and lengthening the period of market dependence, thus reducing food access.

    Pastoral livelihood zones

    Significant maize price spikes

    Reduced market access for maize would likely increase the number of food insecure households and the severity of food insecurity

    Significant decline in livestock prices

    A decline in livestock prices would result in a decline in income from livestock sales, and it would reduce households’ access to food in the market.

    Delayed onset of the short rains

    Delayed onset of the rains is likely to lengthen the August to November lean season and extend the time for dependency on the markets as the only source of food.

    Protraction and spreading of conflicts

    Increased household displacement and consequently increased food insecurity, risk of malnutrition, and increases in human disease incidence due to concentration in camps or informal settlements

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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