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In the pastoral areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through January as households recover from the historic drought. Humanitarian food assistance is expected to prevent more severe outcomes in Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, and Mandera during the June to September dry season. While the above-average March to May long rains replenished forage, pasture, and water resources and improved livestock body conditions and sale values, access to milk remains largely below normal due to below-average livestock births given the prior impacts of drought. Furthermore, low herd sizes, high maize prices, and below-normal sources of income continue to limit household purchasing power. More substantial improvement is expected during the forecast above-average 2023 October to December short rains, which coincides with the livestock birthing season following conceptions during the preceding long rains and will provide milk for consumption. However, income from livestock sales will remain limited given the need to restock herds after the drought, and food prices are expected to remain elevated. Additionally, there is a risk that above-average rainfall will lead to incidences of Rift Valley Fever and livestock losses from flash floods.
In the marginal agricultural areas, the area planted for food crops has been limited by below-average access to inputs during planting in March due to low saved seed stocks, high prices, and limited access to income. Key informants expect a moderately to significantly below-average harvest due to a lack of seeds at planting despite cumulatively average to above-average rainfall. Below-average household income has increased households' reliance on off-own farm income activities such as selling charcoal and firewood and petty trade. Households remain reliant on market purchases for food, but low household income and high food prices are driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, with the worst affected areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The forecast above average October to December short rains are expected to improve household access to agricultural labor and support crop production, with the harvest of short-cycle crops in December and January likely to improve household food access, but the need to repay past debts and the high cost of living will keep households Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
FEWS NET price projections indicate that maize and bean prices in monitored markets are expected to follow seasonal trends but remain well above the five-year averages. Prices are expected to remain high due to below-average production over the past two years, high local and regional demand that will raise prices in the source markets of Tanzania and Uganda, high transportation and marketing costs, the depreciation of the KES, and high inflation rates. The high food prices are expected to keep household purchasing power low, particularly for market-dependent households across the country.
Rainfall Performance: The recently concluded 2023 March to May long rains were cumulatively more than 150 percent of the 40-year average across much of northern and eastern Kenya and over 110 percent of the average over much of the southeastern marginal agricultural areas and the Lake Victoria basin. The 2023 long rains were also the third or second wettest season across much of northern and northeastern Kenya recorded in the past 40 years (Figure 1). In April, flooding in Samburu destroyed property and displaced more than 111 households in Waso and Nyiro wards, while in Turkana households in Township, Kanamkemer, Songot, Kalobeyei, and Kalokol were displaced, and about 1,400 sheep and goats, 68 camels, and 40 cattle were lost. In Isiolo, about 630 households were temporarily surrounded by water after River Ewaso Nyiro broke its banks flooding the entire Iresaboru location in Sericho ward, Garbatulla sub-county.
Source: Climate Hazards Center
Crop production: According to reports by the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya produced approximately 3 million metric tonnes (MMT) of maize in 2022, around 18 percent below the five-year average (Figure 2). The below-average production in 2022 is primarily attributed to the below-average rainfall during the October to December short rains, where the maize harvest was 0.22 MMT, around 35 to 40 percent of the five-year average. However, the 2022 March to May long rains harvest of 2.77 MMT was approximately 90 to 95 percent of the five-year average, attributed to near-normal rainfall in the high and medium rainfall areas of the Rift Valley, western and central Kenya. Bean production for 2022 remained low, with Kenya harvesting 0.55 MMT, approximately 55 to 60 percent of the five-year average. The official production statistics confirm FEWS NET assessment of crop production in 2022 and the lack of food stocks available to households in the marginal agricultural areas following the 2022 October to December short rains.
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
In the marginal agricultural areas, the area planted for food crops during the 2023 March to May long rains is below average as poor households faced low liquidity at the beginning of the season, limiting their access to seeds and other inputs. Throughout the March to May long rains season, crop conditions have been mixed. In the Southeastern Marginal Agricultural areas, where rainfall has been relatively better, pulses such as green grams, beans, and cowpeas are in good to fair condition and in the pod-filling stages to maturity, with the harvesting of the early planted crop underway in most areas. The maize crop is at knee-high to early tasselling stages, while the early planted crop is at tasselling to grain-filling stages. Of concern is the increased consumption of the green harvests, especially of pulses, by households due to limited food stocks and high market prices. However, with the end of the long rains, crops still in the vegetative and water-critical reproductive stages are likely to become moisture stressed and fail to produce any grain.
In the coastal marginal agricultural areas, crop development has been poor following the delayed onset of rainfall that resulted in late planting, followed by below-average rainfall at the start of the season, episodic high rainfall events in late April, and dry spells in May, resulting in significant moisture stress that affected crop development. In Taita Taveta and Kwale, the maize and green gram crops are facing moisture stress, with the poor crop development of particular concern in Taita Taveta where the long rains do not extend through September, unlike other areas in the Coastal Marginal Agricultural Livelihood Zone. In Kilifi, crop conditions are mixed, with the early planted crop at grain filling and early maturity stages while the late planted crop is knee-high and in good condition.
Livestock milk production: Most of the livestock in pastoral areas that had migrated to dry-season grazing areas during the drought are returning to the wet-season grazing areas close to homesteads improving household access to milk following the improvements in pasture, forage, and water resources. In the pastoral areas, milk production from cattle and camels is on an upward trend and is 0.25 to 0.4 liters per household per day in Marsabit and Samburu but 1.1 to 2.8 liters across the rest of the pastoral areas. Milk production remains well below normal following poor conception rates during the 2022 October to December short rains, but in Turkana and Garissa, milk production has increased to around 45 to 55 percent above the five-year average as livestock body conditions improve and as they return from the dry-season grazing areas. Many poor pastoral households are slowly increasing their milk consumption as production increases. However, most poor households continue to rely on powdered and packet milk from retail shops or fresh raw milk from neighboring agropastoral counties. However, the high price of processed and raw milk is limiting household access to an important source of food.
Domestic water availability: The above-average rainfall during the long rains has improved water availability significantly, with the CHIRPS Waterpoint Viewer indicating that most monitored water points across the pastoral areas are classified as Good and greater than the long-term median water level; however, in Marsabit and Turkana some water points are classified as Watch and around 80 percent of the median water level. The main water sources in use across the pastoral areas are water pans and dams, shallow wells, traditional river wells, rivers, and boreholes, which NDMA sentinel site bulletins report have recharged significantly to near-normal to normal levels. Return trekking distances to domestic water sources ranged from 2 to 6.1 kilometers in May and are within average in Samburu and Garissa, 20 to 45 percent shorter than the three-year average, but remain 20 percent above average in Turkana. The decline in distances has increased households' time to engage in other livelihood activities to access food and income better.
In marginal agricultural areas, the distance households travel remains longer than normal. The main water sources for livestock and domestic use are traditional river wells, water pans and dams, roof water catchments, shallow wells springs, and rock catchments. According to field reports, most functioning open water sources, such as pans and dams, have recharged to their normal levels (80 to 100 percent) for June. However, the limited availability of water troughs for livestock at open water sources is resulting in high water turbidity from trampling by livestock, which is continuing to maintain above average return trekking distances in most areas as households have to travel further to find clean water, limiting the time available for other food and income generating activities.
In the coastal marginal agricultural areas, household trekking distances in Lamu and Kilifi range between 3.1 km to 3.8 km in May compared to the five-year average of 2.5 km to 2.8 km. In the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, household return trekking distances in May range between 2 to 6 kilometers in most areas, compared to the five-year average of 1 to 4 kilometers. However, in Kitui, trekking distances are within the five-year average of 5 kilometers, while in Embu, return trekking distances are 2 kilometers compared to the five-year average of 4 kilometers. The reduced access to water is increasing the time and effort households must invest in this crucial livelihood activity at the expense of others.
Forage and pasture: The satellite-derived eVIIRS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), indicates vegetation greenness is over 105 percent of the 10-year average across the country, except in localized areas across northern, eastern, and southern Kenya where vegetation conditions are likely less than 90 percent of the 10-year average (Figure 3). However, across most of the northern and eastern parts of the country, vegetation greenness is over 130 percent of normal following the above-average rainfall and recovery of rangeland resources. Because of improvements in forage and water availability, the return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources for livestock range from 4.5 to 7.6 kilometers and are 17 to 54 percent shorter than the three-year average but remain similar to the three-year average in Garissa and Turkana. The improvement in vegetation and increased water access is lowering the distance livestock travel and helping improve livestock body conditions.
Source: FEWS NET using Ministry of Agriculture data
Livestock body conditions: Livestock body conditions and production is beginning to improve following the replenishment of pasture, forage, and water resources and the return of livestock herds from the dry season grazing areas. Cattle and sheep body conditions are currently fair to good, with good to very good body conditions in Marsabit. For camel and goats, body conditions are mostly good to very good but range from fair to good in Turkana and Isiolo.
However, livestock pest infestations and disease outbreaks were reported in May in Garissa's Liboi, Damajaley, and Jarajila wards, with camel mortalities reported by a suspected anthrax outbreak and vector infestation. In Wajir, there were suspected anthrax cases in camels that had recently returned from Somalia and Garissa, triggering a mass camel vaccination campaign by the county government. In Marsabit (North Horr sub-county), an outbreak of Ephemeral fever was reported in goats and cattle in addition to an ongoing outbreak of suspected haemorrhagic septicaemia in camels and a rabies outbreak in dogs. However, the outbreaks are under control by county governments and are not significantly impacting household access to income from livestock sales.
Maize and bean prices: Across Kenya, maize and bean prices remain exceptionally high due to low local availability following successive below-average production seasons resulting in high demand, high cross-border importation costs, high marketing costs due to rising fuel costs, in addition to high inflation rates and the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling (KES). Wholesale maize prices in the urban reference markets of Nairobi and Eldoret range from 82 to 147 percent above the five-year average, while prices in Mombasa and Kisumu are 46 to 62 percent above the five-year average due to relatively more available cross-border supplies from Tanzania and Uganda (Figure 3). Retail maize prices across the pastoral and marginal agricultural markets range from 18 to 124 percent above the five-year average influenced by the same drivers. Dry bean wholesale prices in the urban reference markets range from 67 to 98 percent above the five-year averages. Across the rural pastoral and marginal agricultural area markets, retail dry-bean prices are 48 to 88 percent above the five-year averages, driven by low supplies because of poor production over successive seasons and dependence on high-priced supplies from cross-border source markets. Overall, the above-average staple food prices continue to limit household purchasing power and food access.
Livestock prices: The improvement in livestock body conditions is improving livestock prices. Across the pastoral areas, the price of a medium-sized two-year-old goat is rising and 6 to 31 percent above the five-year average as body conditions improve following the improvements in forage and water conditions. However, goat prices in Turkana remain 23 percent lower than the five-year average due to relatively poorer livestock body conditions and limited demand. Goat prices in May were 2245 to 4300 KES (~4 to 30 USD) across pastoral counties. However, the high maize prices are keeping the goat-to-maize terms-of-trade, a proxy for household purchasing power, 7 to around 50 percent lower than the five-year average (Figure 4). Households can purchase around 20 to 60 kilograms of maize per goat sold, enough to meet the minimum kilocalorie equivalent to feed a family of six for five to 16 days. Overall, the high maize prices are continuing to limit household food access.
Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA
Household incomes in pastoral areas have declined over the last few years due to low livestock sale values and the absence of milk to sell. Pastoral households increasingly rely on off-own farm income, mainly from livestock herding, small business and petty trade, firewood and charcoal sales, and charcoal labor. According to surveys of key informants by FEWS NET, households engaged in herding are earning on average around 4333 to 6111 KES per month (30 to 43 USD per month), while households engaged in charcoal labor are earning around 500 KES per day (~3.57 USD per day) and can work on median around 19 days a month. Overall, the off-own farm income is mainly used to purchase food and, to a lesser extent, education-related expenses.
In the marginal agricultural areas, surveyed key informants reported that agricultural waged labor opportunities were low in March and April due to the delayed start to the season. To earn income, households rely heavily on off-own farm income activities such as producing and selling charcoal and firewood, livestock herding, and petty trade to earn income for food. Although most of the income earned is used for food purchases, increased competition and limited access to income limit the purchasing power of poor households and impact their access to food.
Interannual and emergency food assistance: Ongoing safety net programmes such as OVC, OPCT, and PWSD – CT are providing approximately one million targeted households with at least 2,000 KES (~14 USD) each month. The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) continues to provide 5,400 KES (~38 USD) every two months to at least 100,000 households in the four pastoral counties of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, and Wajir. Under WFP's Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP), approximately 175,000 households are receiving assistance equivalent to at least 30 to 50 percent of their kilocalorie needs, while Phase II of WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme is providing a 75 percent ration equivalent through cash and in-kind food to about 940,300 food insecure beneficiaries in Turkana, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, and Marsabit (Priority 1), and Tana River, Baringo, Kitui, Kwale, and Kilifi (Priority 2).
Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA
Current Food Security Outcomes
In the pastoral areas of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Isiolo, and Wajir, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely, supported by ongoing cash transfers and humanitarian assistance. Households access to food and income remains low due to the cumulative impact of the drought on livestock and milk production. In May, NDMA sentinel site bulletins reported that the proportion of households with borderline and poor household food consumption score (FCS) remained similar to April or declined, driven by improved dietary diversity and slightly increased milk consumption. However, more than 20 percent of households recorded a poor FSC in Marsabit and Turkana. Households are also applying consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as reducing the number and size of meals per day, reducing adult food portions in favor of children and sending family members to eat elsewhere. The NDMA sentinel site nutrition surveillance data for May indicates that an atypically high proportion of children under the age of five recorded a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of less than 135mm in comparison to the five-year average, with a prevalence of 6 to 24 percent above the five-year average. However, in Isiolo, the proportion of children with a MUAC of less than 135mm was within the five-year average. The higher-than-normal prevalence of acute malnutrition reflects limited access to food and low milk consumption. However, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is stabilizing or declining compared to past months, attributed to increasing milk consumption, humanitarian assistance, and increased access to income as livestock prices gradually increase.
In the marginal agricultural areas, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes prevail due to the high staple food prices and low incomes that continue to limit household purchasing power and food access, while the worse-off households are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). According to the NDMA sentinel site bulletins for May 2023, over 20 percent of households reported a poor diet diversity and limited access to food, with FCS indicative of borderline food consumption. However, in Meru (Meru North), Lamu, and Kwale, more than 20 percent of poor households also reported a poor FCS score. Due to reduced food availability and limited income opportunities, households were engaging in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2), such as purchasing food on credit, relying on less preferred or less expensive food, reducing the portion size of meals, and reducing the number of meals eaten per day. In the Southeast Marginal Agricultural areas, a significant proportion of poor households also engage in livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as the excessive consumption of green produce.
Source: FEWS NET
The most likely scenario from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- The February/March to September long rains in western unimodal Kenya are likely to be near average, with localized areas of below-average rainfall, although there is uncertainty given the long-range nature of the forecast. Temperatures are likely to be above average through 2023. Due to the forecast El Nino, the 2023 October to December short rains are likely to be above average.
- In September, crop production in the high and medium rainfall areas of western, central Kenya, and Rift Valley is expected to be near average, supported by near average rainfall and available inputs from government fertilizer subsidy programs. Long rains crop production from the marginal agricultural areas in July is expected to be moderately to significantly below average due to below-average crop area planted, erratic rainfall, particularly in the coastal areas, below-average access to inputs, and early consumption of harvests by households. In marginal agricultural areas, short-cycle crop harvests in December 2023 are likely to be average to above average, except for beans that are likely to be negatively impacted by the above-average rainfall.
- Following the breakdown of the import deal with Zambia in April, Kenya will likely have to plug the entirety of the deficit of 900,000 metric tons with high-priced maize supplies from within the region through September. This will likely drive a gradual increase in maize prices, sustaining above-average maize prices through September when the near-average long rains harvest from the high and medium rainfall areas begin to reach markets and stabilize market prices.
- Across the pastoral areas, the above-average March to May 2023 rainfall is expected to drive a significant recovery of forage and water resources to above-average levels, which will persist at least through August. From September through mid-October, high temperatures and high forage consumption by livestock will drive a decline in forage and water resources to near-average levels. However, the forecast above average October to December short rains will regenerate forage and water resources to above-average levels, persisting through January.
- Because the above-average regeneration of forage and water resources, households and livestock are expected to travel lower-than-normal distances to access water and pasture. However, from September through mid-October, the pastoral dry season will likely result in the typical migration of livestock to dry-season grazing areas. As the above-average October to December short rains begin, trekking distances to water and pasture will likely reduce to below-average levels and remain so through January, keeping livestock in wet season grazing areas. The presence of livestock close to the homesteads is expected to significantly increase the availability and access to milk at the household level, improving household access to food and income.
- Beginning in June, livestock birth rates are expected to be below average as livestock body conditions remained poor during the 2022 short rains. However, improvements in body conditions during the March to May long rains are likely to moderately increase conception rates, with milk production and availability expected to improve between August and October. In November, cattle birth rates are expected to be near average following improved conception rates over the March to May long rains period, increasing herd sizes slightly and improving household milk access significantly. Conception rates for all livestock are expected to be near-average to average during the 2023 October to December short rains.
- The forecast above average October to December short rains is likely to result in flooding in the peak rainfall month of November across the country, with significant damage to cropland and irrigation infrastructure in Turkana, Tana River, and across the marginal agricultural areas, with loss of livestock, especially sheep and goats, in the pastoral areas. Additionally, significant damage to health facilities, schools, markets, and roads will likely affect access to critical services, impeding market access and constraining livelihood activities in affected areas.
- The forecast above average October to December short rains is expected to create conditions conducive for the outbreak and spread of the vector-borne viral zoonotic Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in January 2024 in Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Tana River, Kajiado, and Kitui counties. The occurrence of RVF is likely to result in quarantines across the affected areas, including bans on livestock movement and sales to curb its spread. Where routine disease surveillance and animal vaccination, vector control activities, quarantine, and promotion of best practices for livestock handling and slaughter practices are not carried out due to funding or logistical constraints, significant livestock deaths and limited human fatalities are expected. Despite the significantly above-average March to May long rains, the preceding deficits of water, soil moisture, and forage conditions will reduce the likelihood of water stagnation and waterlogging that is conducive for RVF vector breeding from May to September.
- FEWS NET price projections indicate that wholesale maize prices in the Nairobi reference market are expected to follow seasonal trends but remain around 70 to 105 percent above the five-year averages. Maize prices are expected to remain high due to the high local and regional demand that will raise prices in the source markets of Tanzania and Uganda, enforcement of export permits from Tanzania reducing supplies, high fuel costs driving high marketing costs, currency depreciation, and high inflation rates. Dry bean wholesale prices are expected to be 40 to around 75 percent above the five-year averages. Bean prices are expected to follow seasonal trends and remain elevated above 2022 prices, driven by a high demand following consecutive poor production seasons and the previously mentioned drivers.
- In Kenya, staple food prices are expected to follow seasonal patterns but will likely be higher than last year, and the recent five-year average driven by conflict-related trade disruptions, below-average staple food production, and the depreciation of the KES will likely sustain above-average prices across many markets. Livestock prices will vary depending on the availability of feed and water.
- In Kenya, inflation is projected to increase to 7 percent in 2023 due to higher energy costs, below-average local harvests, and the depreciation of the KES. Currency depreciation will likely limit Kenya's imports of around 900,000 and 600,000 MT of duty-free maize and milled rice from overseas between February and August 2023, leaving prices in Kenya elevated and on an increasing trend. The high prices and currency depreciation are expected to increase the cost of living and reduce household food access throughout the scenario period.
- In northern and northeastern Kenya, particularly parts of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Lamu counties bordering Somalia, insecurity is likely to persist at high levels driven by sporadic attacks by Al Shabaab along major transportation corridors, the destruction of communication masts, and attacks on towns throughout the scenario period.
- Phase II of WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme is set to continue through October, providing rations equivalent to 75 percent of a monthly food needs through cash and food commodities to around 940,300 beneficiaries expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Turkana, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, and Marsabit (Priority 1), and Tana River, Baringo, Kitui, Kwale, and Kilifi (Priority 2) through October 2023.
Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes
In pastoral areas, despite some significant improvements in forage and water resources, below-average goat-to-maize terms-of-trade, high staple food prices, and a slow recovery of livestock herd sizes and livelihoods following the protracted drought are expected to keep households reliant on humanitarian assistance, driving Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area-level outcomes across the pastoral areas. Water and pasture conditions will wane during the June to September dry season, driving livestock to dry-season migration areas. Livestock body conditions and milk production are also expected to decline seasonally, reducing household access to milk for consumption. Reduced income from milk and livestock sales will drive households to rely on non-livestock-related income such as remittances, charcoal and firewood sales, and safety nets, which will cumulatively be below the average. High staple food prices and the high cost of living will force households to rely on consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with the worst affected households likely to engage in coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) such as the sale of last female animals. The prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely remain high but at Critical (GAM WHZ 15 to 29.9 percent) levels through the dry season due to poor dietary diversity, below-average food consumption, poor health-seeking behaviors, high morbidity, and limited access to milk.
From October to January, the forecast above average October to December short rains are expected to support a significant recovery of forage and water resources, driving livestock back to wet season grazing areas, and improving livestock body conditions and sale values. Livestock birth rates are expected to increase to near-normal levels during this period, improving milk production and household milk consumption, and access to food and income. However, high staple food prices are expected to continue constraining access to food from markets, especially for poor households that will likely continue to apply consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to minimize food consumption gaps. The prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely remain Critical (GAM 15 to 29.9 percent) but be on a declining trend owing to progressive enhancement of food access but will likely remain elevated due to high seasonal morbidity levels, including increased malaria and diarrhea during the rainy season, below average food access from the cumulative impact of the drought and chronic factors that slow down recovery. Overall, at least 20 percent of the population is likely to face food consumption gaps and be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as households slowly recover their livestock herd sizes and access to typical food and income levels.
In the marginal agricultural areas, between June and September, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected, driven by the anticipated below-average long rains production that will provide short-lived improvements in household food availability, while the worse-off households in Kitui, Kwale, Makueni, and Meru (Meru North) are likely to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Household food stocks are expected to last through August, compared to October normally. Households will likely continue relying heavily on market supplies to supplement the harvest but will be constrained by below-average incomes. High staple food prices and limited access to income from crop sales will limit household purchasing power and households seeking to repay debts accrued during the multi-year drought. Households will continue to rely heavily on off-own income opportunities such as selling charcoal and firewood and petty trade to earn income, but earnings are expected to remain low due to limited demand and liquidity among better-off households. Household milk availability will likely remain low due to poor conception during the 2022 October to December short rains. Nevertheless, the prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely remain Acceptable (GAM<5 percent). Many poor households are likely to engage in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to meet their food needs, while the worst-off households will continue to engage in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, such as borrowing from friends and neighbors, and the consumption of seed stock.
Between October and January, households are expected to increase the area planted under food crops for the 2023 October to December short rains, but the high cost of inputs coupled with limited incomes from the sale of the long rains harvest are likely to limit a significant expansion in the planted area compared to the typical area planted during the short rains. Consequently, the demand for agricultural waged labor opportunities will increase but to average levels, resulting in average incomes for poor households. Through December, household reliance on markets will remain atypically high following the earlier-than-normal depletion of household stocks from the below-average long rains season. Although household incomes will gradually improve from increased access to agricultural wage labor, the high staple food prices and high inflation rates will continue limiting household purchasing power. The forecast El Nino during the short rains is likely to support above-average rainfall and good crop production in most areas, resulting in above-average production. The availability of green harvests of pulses in late December and early harvests from mid-January will gradually improve household food availability, reducing market dependency. In the meantime, household milk availability and consumption are likely to improve to average levels, improving household dietary diversity and incomes from milk sales. Despite the gradual improvements in household food security, the high indebtedness of poor households and the increasing costs of non-food needs will continue to drive widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
|Area||Event||Impact on food security outcomes|
|National||Below-average October to December short rains||Below-average October to December short rains would impact agricultural production, raise staple food prices, and reduce household food access. In the pastoral areas, it would result in partial regeneration of forage and water resources and reduce improvements in livestock productivity and sale values, limiting milk and income availability. Across Kenya, there would likely be an increase in the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.|
|Northern Pastoral and Northwestern Pastoral Livelihood Zone||A pipeline break in funding for humanitarian assistance||A pipeline break in funding for humanitarian assistance during the June to September dry season will result in significant food gaps for households that are yet to recover from the impacts of the protracted drought. These households would be forced to engage in unsustainable coping mechanisms and will likely deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4).|
|The Southeast and Coastal Marginal Agricultural Livelihood Zone in Kilifi||Significantly above-average rainfall||Significantly above-average rainfall will likely cause flooding, leading to significant losses of crops, livestock, and livelihood assets. The loss and damage from widespread flooding will likely result in food consumption gaps that households can only fill by engaging in unsustainable coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.|
The 2023 March to May long rains are likely be the third or second wettest season recorded across much of northern Kenya in the past 40 years. Rainfall was mostly 145 percent of the average, apart from the western border of the livelihood zone, where rainfall was average. In April, the above-average rainfall caused flooding, displacing about 111 households and resulting in the loss of livelihoods and property in the Waso and Nyiro wards of Samburu County. In Turkana, flooding displaced households in Township, Kanamkemer, Songot, Kalobeyei, and Kalokol and resulted in the deaths of 1,400 sheep and goats, almost 70 camels, and 40 cattle.
The most commonly used water sources are water pans, boreholes, seasonal rivers, traditional river wells and shallow wells for human and livestock consumption across the livelihood zone. In the eastern parts of the livelihood zone (Marsabit County), most open water sources recharged to 90 to 95 percent capacity, with partial recharge of 60 to 70 percent reported in some parts of the Laisamis sub-county due to below-average rainfall. In the western parts of the zone, rainfall recharged water sources to 30 to 60 percent capacity, with 70 to 80 percent of the boreholes operational.
In May, the distances households travel to fetch water are largely normal, as water access improves following the 2023 March to May long rains. Households are traveling around 4.5 to 6 kilometers and waiting around 5 to 30 minutes at the pumps to access water. The largely normal access to water is helping households increase opportunities to earn income or spend more time participating in other livelihood activities.
Return trekking distances for livestock from grazing areas to water sources ranges from around 6 to 7.5 kilometers compared to the three-year average of 7.6 to 13.5 kilometers. The decline in trekking distances is attributed to the good recharge of open water sources and improved forage and pasture availability. Across the livelihood zones, the water frequency for livestock has returned to normal levels, with livestock in Turkana being watered 6 to 7 times per week compared to 5 to 7 times per week in April, while cattle are accessing water 5 to 6 times per week. Similarly, in Marsabit, the watering frequency for all livestock has returned to normal, with goats, sheep, and cattle being watered daily and camels getting watered every 3 to 5 days. The return of relatively normal trekking distances and watering frequency are attributed to the significant recharge of most surface and groundwater sources, helping livestock recover their body conditions and improve sale prices.
The good March to May long rains have also improved forage and pasture conditions across the northwestern and northern pastoral livelihood zones. According to the eVIIRS NDVI data for June 11 to 20, 2023, vegetation greenness across the livelihood zone is largely above-average and over 140 percent of the 10-year average in the eastern parts of the livelihood zone. However, vegetation greenness is 70 to 90 percent of the 10-year average in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the livelihood zone, likely driven by poor vegetation regeneration.
Livestock body conditions are improving with increased access to rangeland resources. According to NDMA sentinel site data for May 2023, livestock body conditions are fair for all species in the western part of the livelihood zone but range from good to very good across the rest of the zone. The notable improvement in livestock body conditions is supported by the increased availability of forage and water resources and the significantly reduced distances required to travel from grazing areas to water sources.
Milk production largely remains below normal across the livelihood zone but is beginning to improve as livestock return from the dry season grazing areas. In May, households at NDMA sentinel sites in Marsabit and Samburu reported getting 0.25 to 0.4 liters of milk per household per day, well below the long-term average of 1 to 2 liters per household per day. However, in Turkana, households at NDMA sentinel sites reported collecting 1.9 liters of milk per household per day in May due to increased calving as herds returned from the dry season grazing areas. However, households are not selling the milk but prioritizing it for the children to drink. Relatedly, household milk consumption mirrors milk production and is well below normal in Marsabit and Samburu but largely normal in Turkana. However, the lack of milk sales, an important source of income, is limiting the ability of households to purchase food at the markets. In Marsabit, households are purchasing raw and packaged milk at twice the average price from neighboring source markets such as Laikipia, Isiolo, and Meru counties, along with milk powder from shops. The persistently low milk production and consumption across much of the livelihood zone are impacting household income and food consumption.
In May, county officials reported a few outbreaks of diseases among livestock. In the Turbi areas of North Horr sub-county, an outbreak of Ephemeral fever was reported among goats and cattle. There is also an ongoing outbreak of an acute camel disease in Turbi suspected to be haemorrhagic septicaemia with increasing mortality rates. In the Sibiloi area, county officials also reported the sudden death of 15 camels. No quarantine or vaccination campaigns are ongoing, but treatment is being carried out on a case-by-case basis.
Livestock migration patterns have largely returned to normal following the good March to May long rains. Most livestock that had migrated away during the drought have now migrated back to their traditional satellite grazing areas closer to the homesteads. However, in the western parts of the livelihood zone, 25 percent of livestock are migrating within the county, while in the southern parts of the zone, over 90 percent of the sheep and goats are grazing around their homesteads. However, a small proportion of herds remain away due to recurring communal conflicts between Samburu and Pokot communities, with some livestock remaining in Laikipia County due to fear of recurring conflicts in the Suguta and Loosuk wards. In the eastern part of the livelihood zone, some livestock have migrated to Kambinye, largely attributed to the need for drier conditions to minimize disease incidences like foot rot.
Incidences of conflict and insecurity were reported in the eastern part of the zone places like El Gufu and Barambate, while in the western parts of the zone, banditry attacks and livestock rustling were reported in some parts of Turkana East and Turkana South sub county (Lobokat and Kaputir). In Samburu, recurring conflicts continued to be experienced in areas bordering Baringo county (Tiaty constituency), leading to the death of about four national police reservists in May 2023. Livestock theft by heavily armed bandits escalated tension in the affected areas, resulting in hundreds of livestock stolen and the displacement of hundreds of residents. Livelihood activities are constrained in Logorate, Longewan, Lolmolok, Loosuk, Pura, and Malaso for fear of attacks by bandits from Tiaty sub-county.
In May, available information on ongoing cash transfers and food assistance interventions indicates that households are receiving around 50 to 75 percent of their daily kilocalorie requirement through food and cash transfers. In Samburu, 2,570 households are receiving humanitarian assistance in the form of cash and food, while in Turkana and Marsabit, approximately 130,000 households, around 57 and 38 percent of the respective county populations, are receiving humanitarian assistance from various humanitarian partners and the government.
According to May NDMA sentinel site data, maize prices across the livelihood zones are around 55 to 85 percent above the five-year average, driven by low carryover stocks, high transport costs, high-priced cross-border imports, and high demand, with prices ranging from 86 to 114 KES (~0.61 to 0.81USD) per kilogram. However, goat prices have increased due to improving livestock body conditions and limited supply as households seek to increase their herd sizes. Goat prices range from 2,245 to 4,125 KES (~16 to 29 USD), with prices around 15 to 20 percent above the five-year average in Marsabit and Samburu but remain 23 percent lower than the five-year average in Turkana as livestock conditions remain largely fair. As a result of the high maize prices, a household can purchase 20 to 48 kilograms of maize per goat sold, around 30 to 50 percent below the five-year average. The current goat-to-maize terms-of-trade can provide the equivalent of five to 13 days of minimum kilocalories for a household of six. The below-average goat-to-maize terms-of-trade is indicative that households continue to have significantly below-average food access, largely driven by the above-average maize prices and high cost of living.
In May 2023, NDMA sentinel site data indicate that households are consuming staple grains and vegetables, along with increased access to milk. However, diet diversity remains low, and the high maize prices are impacting household purchasing power. To cope with the low food access, most households in Turkana and Samburu are applying consumption coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as reducing meal sizes and the frequency of meals, restricting adult consumption for children to eat, and borrowing money to purchase food. Households are also employing livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), such as withdrawing children from school and reducing expenses on healthcare, while worse-off households are employing coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4), such as the sale of last female animals to obtain income.
In May, nutrition surveillance data from the NDMA sentinel sites indicate that proportion of children at risk of acute malnutrition (MUAC<135mm) in comparison to same period last year and the five-year average remains 12 to 27.5 percent higher but the trend is stable or declining as households are supported by humanitarian food assistance and increased access to milk. Additionally, the high prevalence of malnutrition reflects the impact of the drought and a prolonged period of reduced food intake that included low or no milk consumption for over a year.
Household access to income remains limited, and households across the livelihood zone remain reliant on humanitarian food assistance to fill food consumption gaps, particularly as food prices remain high. As households begin to recover from the drought, at least one in five very poor and poor households in the livelihood zone are likely to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes due to a lack of income to purchase food and limited market access. However, the ongoing cash transfers and food distribution, particularly in Turkana and Marsabit, are supporting Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:
- Retail maize prices in Lodwar Market are expected to be around 30 to 45 percent above the five-year average, driven by high local demand due to the protracted drought, low local availability, higher-priced cross-border imports, high marketing and production costs, the depreciation of the KES, and inflation. However, prices will likely fall below 2022 prices around October as a near-average long rains harvest from the high and medium production areas increases market supply.
- Goat prices in Lodwar Market are likely to improve gradually throughout the scenario period, driven by improving livestock body conditions, and remain above average through the scenario period. This will likely be driven by offseason rainfall continuing to replenish rangeland resources from June to September and reduced market supply as livestock owners seek to restock their herds.
- Improving livestock prices and milk production will increase household incomes slightly, but household access will remain below average. Households will continue to rely on non-livestock-related income sources to purchase food, particularly from remittances, charcoal sales, petty trade, and construction labor. In December, the improvement and recovery of livestock body conditions and milk production will result in near average to average livestock-related income, apart from in Marsabit, which historically is likely to be affected by the impacts of a Rift Valley Fever outbreak and will likely be below average.
- An outbreak and spread of the viral zoonotic Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is likely to occur in January 2024 in Marsabit County, resulting in the closure of multiple markets affecting livestock slaughter and trade and related income. Limited prevention and control measures in Marsabit, such as disease surveillance, animal vaccination, vector control activities, quarantine, and promotion of best practices, are likely to spread RVF to Turkana and Samburu, causing significant livestock abortions and deaths and limited human fatalities.
- WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme is expected to continue through October, providing the equivalent of 75 percent of a full monthly ration through cash and food commodities to around 380,700 people. Despite most of their distribution plans ending in June 2023, it is anticipated that other humanitarian partners will continue distributing humanitarian assistance through at least September 2023 due to the high need and historical funding trends.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Between June and September, the dry season will drive seasonal declines in forage and water resources. As livestock body conditions decline seasonally, livestock will migrate back to the dry season grazing areas. However, with the relatively improved rangeland resources, incidences of resource-based conflicts are expected to decline, but livestock disease incidences are expected to increase as livestock congregate in the dry season grazing areas and have a significant impact on livestock that are not yet fully recovered from the drought. Improving birth rates, especially for goats and sheep, are expected following likely higher conception rates during the 2023 March to May long rains. This will likely increase household milk consumption, but the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under five years old will likely remain high as most livestock will be in the dry season grazing areas. Despite a relative improvement in livestock prices, non-livestock-related sources of income will likely remain below average due to increased competition for opportunities and limited liquidity among better-off households. Additionally, high staple food prices will continue to limit household food access, with households likely to consume one to two meals a day instead of three normally. Meals are likely to consist mostly of tea without milk and maize with an occasional serving of beans, with household food consumption at levels indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. Households will likely be forced to continue applying consumption-based coping strategies such as skipping meals, sending children to eat elsewhere, eating less preferred foods, and limiting adult intake; and livelihood-based coping strategies such as withdrawal of children from school and reduction of expenditure on health, all indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse to minimize food consumption gaps. The most food insecure households will rely on humanitarian assistance to minimize food consumption gaps with Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes most likely in Turkana and Marsabit and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Samburu.
Between October and January, the forecast above average October to December rains will likely result in some livestock deaths from hypothermia and pneumonic diseases. The rains will drive above-average regeneration of forage and water resources, returning livestock to wet season grazing areas closer to homesteads and reducing resource-based conflicts, especially in Samburu. Return trekking distances for livestock and domestic water sources will shorten significantly, improving livestock body conditions and sale values. Livestock births are expected to occur at significantly increased rates, even for cattle, and milk production and household availability are expected to be above average. The increased access to milk is expected to reduce the prevalence of acute malnutrition, especially in children under five. Households will hold onto their livestock to increase their herd sizes and coupled with improved livestock body conditions, will increase livestock prices to above-average levels improving household access to income and food. The increased access to income from livestock and milk sales will likely mitigate the likely below-average income from non-livestock sources such as petty trade, sale of charcoal and firewood, remittances, and non-livestock-related casual labor. The improvements in milk and income from livestock, milk sales, and herding labor will allow households to reduce their reliance on consumption and livelihood coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps. However, the cumulative impact of the drought on household livelihoods and coping capacity will keep many very poor and poor households reliant on coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Despite the expected improvements in food and milk access, the prevalence of acute malnutrition will remain Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) in these counties through January 2024 due to the cumulative impact of successive seasons of drought, high disease burden, and chronic factors that will likely sustain elevated wasting levels. Even with a majority of the humanitarian assistance cash and food interventions coming to an end in October, an increasing number of households will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), particularly in Samburu, at least 20 percent of households in Turkana and Marsabit will likely only be able to meet their minimum food needs by engaging in crisis-coping strategies for much of the scenario period resulting in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area level outcomes.
Recommend citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Food Security Outlook June 2023 to January 2024: As Kenya recovers from historic drought, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist, 2023.
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.