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Both pastoral and marginal agricultural areas entering the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Kenya
  • July - December 2015
Both pastoral and marginal agricultural areas entering the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Partners
    Government of Kenya
    Key Messages
    • Nationally, food security remains stable with food stocks from imports and the harvest of short-cycle long rains crops remaining available in most markets. However, stocks are being drawn down as an unusually high number of households are purchasing from markets due to below-average production over the previous two seasons. Food insecurity is expected to increase between July and October.

    • In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, food security will likely deteriorate more than just seasonally due to cumulative effects of below-average harvests for the past two seasons. Though the March to May long rains were near average in terms of cumulative amounts, highly uneven temporal and spatial distribution along with an early end of the rains in early May will likely to result in below-average crop production. The majority of households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and are expected to remain so through October. 

    • Food security will seasonally decrease in pastoral areas as rangeland resources get depleted and livestock productivity declines during the June to September dry season. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. However, localized parts of Isiolo North and Wajir West Sub-Counties will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least September due to worse conditions for livestock, low water availability, and low milk availability.

    • The strong chance of El Niño continuing is likely to result in above-average cumulative October to December rainfall during the short rains. As a result, food security will likely improve in pastoral areas and the marginal agricultural lowlands. Expected increased planting may lead to above-average crop production. Some households in the marginal agricultural lowlands may move into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) by December as the green harvest starts. 

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Nationally, food security remains stable. Markets have adequate food stocks both from imports and from the short-cycle long rains harvest. The food security report by the State Department of Agriculture observed that cereal stocks especially are below-average in parts of central, eastern, coastal, and northeastern Kenya, as a result of below-average harvests over the last two seasons. Also, increasing prices but relatively constant household income is likely reducing food access. The consumer price index (CPI) increased from 159.98 in May 2015 to 160.46 in June. The annual inflation rate stood at 7.03 percent in June, an increase from 6.87 percent in May. The increase in inflation is likely due to rising fuel prices, which rose four percent between May and June, and increases in cereal prices between April and June, as supplies were drawn down. Market functioning has remained normal between April and June. Imports have helped maintain adequate stocks in markets. Wholesale maize prices in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret remained atypically stable between May and June, as a result of increased imports of maize and substitutes for maize. Prices were near average in Mombasa, but they were 10 to 16 percent below five-year averages in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Eldoret.

    In marginal agricultural, agropastoral, and pastoral areas, food security improved from April through June due to the seasonal increase in labor demand, increased water availability, and increased access to milk. However, as is typical seasonally, food security is deteriorating in these areas. In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, crops conditions are fair. While the March to May long rains were average to above average in amount, they were unevenly distributed across space and over time. They also ended early. As a result, crop growth and development has been slower than usual, and some crops are so underdeveloped, they may not reach maturity. Short-cycle legumes like beans, green grams, cowpeas, and pigeon peas are already being harvested, and in some areas, households are also consuming green maize, sorghum, and millet. However, in many areas, the maize wilted. Some parts of the southeastern marginal agricultural areas may not have any maize to harvest. Most marginal agricultural areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Food security in pastoral areas improved from April to June, but since the start of the dry season in June, food security has deteriorated. The deterioration is due to the seasonal decline in the availability of rangeland resources and the resulting decrease in livestock productivity. Water, pasture, and browse conditions range from good to fair across most areas. However, pasture is reported to be in poor condition in Mandera East, Samburu East, Isiolo North, Wajir West and North, and Eldas Sub-counties. Most livestock are still grazing near homesteads, so households can still access milk, though in slowly diminishing quantities. Livestock body conditions range from good to fair, and livestock prices remain near average to above average. Many households are currently engaged in normal livelihood activities, but some poor households have started to use coping strategies to meet their food needs. Most pastoral areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but localized areas in West Wajir and Isiolo North, where there have been rainfall deficits, and worse conditions for livestock, low water availability, and low milk availability remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    The following assumptions have been made at the national level:

    • As multiple forecasts indicate that El Niño will likely continue through December, the October to December short rains are expected to be above average over eastern Kenya.
    • Above-average October to December rainfall will likely result in increased availability of rangeland resources and thus, increased livestock productivity. However, localized flash floods are likely, leading to livestock and human deaths and increased incidence of water-borne diseases in some areas.
    • Long rains crop production is expected to be below average. This is likely due to the lengthy dry spell in June when much of the maize was at the flowering, tasseling, or grain-filling stage. Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) and below-average application of fertilizers and other inputs due to high cost have also reduced productivity in some areas.
    • As a result of below-average crop production, food prices will likely increase through September, as demand for food from markets increases and household stocks are depleted. However, imports from Tanzania and Uganda will moderate prices, preventing a sharp increase in maize prices. Prices are expected to stabilize after the long rains harvest from northern Rift Valley and other surplus-producing areas becomes available from October to December.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The food security of pastoral households is expected to seasonally decline through October. Pasture, browse and water availability will decline, and livestock productivity will fall. Households will have less milk production and more limited income-earning opportunities from their livestock, as livestock prices fall. Staple food prices are likely to increase, unlike household incomes, eroding poor households’ purchasing power. However, households will increasingly employ coping strategies to buy food. As household food consumption patterns seasonally change, malnutrition rates are likely to increase through October and decrease after that, as food consumption, especially consumption of milk, increases after the short rains start. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December, but as livestock production and productivity recovers in Isiolo North and Wajir West Sub-counties after the start of the rains, these areas are likely to move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The long rains harvests is expected to be significantly below average in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, particularly in Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, and Taita Taveta Counties. The low production is due to dry conditions, and it will likely be concentrated in areas where maize does not reach maturity. Households currently do not have sufficient stocks, so own produced food consumption will decline. From October to December, the short-cycle short rains harvest, primarily of legumes, will not be adequate to support consumption. Households will not eat primarily from their own production until after the short rains harvest in February/March. Though households will continue to primarily source food from markets through December, as some households start consuming short-cycle short rains crops like legumes, they will begin to purchase slightly less. Poor households who do not have sufficient incomes are likely to purchase on credit, primarily during the July to September lean season, as there are few income-earning opportunities at that time. The majority of households though will likely still be able to afford cash purchases. As agricultural labor demand and the availability of other income-earning opportunities increases from October to December, credit food purchases among the poor will be replaced by cash purchase from labor income, mostly from agricultural labor. The majority of households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December, though some households are likely to move to None (IPC Phase 1) as household food consumption improves during the short rains.

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2015

    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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