Food Security Outlook

Food and nutrition security expected to improve through March 2013

October 2012 to March 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
Government of Kenya
WFP

Key Messages

  • The population in need of humanitarian assistance declined from 2.2 million in February 2012 to 2.1 million in September 2012. The decline was higher in pastoral areas than in marginal agricultural livelihood zones. The majority of the food insecure households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) while about 10 percent of the food insecure population is categorized as in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

  • Total maize output from the long rains is likely to be below average, but the below-average harvest will minimally affect food security. The October to December 2012 short rains are expected to be average to above average and result in an above average harvest in February, concentrated in the Southeast and coastal areas. 

  • Considerable improvement in food security is expected through March 2013. Of those currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the pastoral zone and the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, the food security situation is set to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by December, driven by increases in crop production and livestock productivity resulting from the near average to above average October to December 2012 short rains. 

  • Expected improvement in food security in southeastern marginal agricultural and coastal lowlands could slightly be undermined by the persistence of well above average maize prices, destruction of roads by floods, political activities that could motivate conflict and cause displacements and market disruptions, or widespread water- and vector-borne diseases. Widespread maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) in cropping areas could also lead to an extreme deterioration of food security.

National Overview

Current Situation

One third of the total population of 39 million people in Kenya suffers from chronic food and nutrition insecurity, according to the Government of Kenya (2011). In 2012, the acute food security situation in the country improved slightly due to enhanced production from the October to December 2011 short rains, which performed well except in the coastal marginal mixed farming areas. Some moderate production from the March to August 2012 long rains occurred, despite their poor spatial and temporal distribution and total amount. Consequently, the number of people in need of food assistance declined slightly from 2.2 million in February 2012 to 2.1 in August 2012 according to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group’s (KFSSG) long rains assessment. The population in need declined more in pastoral livelihood zones than it did in marginal agricultural livelihood zones.

Several macroeconomic factors such as fuel prices, food prices, inflation, cross-border trade, and exchange rates influence food availability and access at the national level and consequently at the household level. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, overall price inflation has been declining since January 2012. Between August and September, the month-on-month overall consumer inflation rate declined from 6.0 percent to 5.3 percent, while the food price index declined from 3.6 percent in August to 2.9 percent in September at least partly due to improved food supply and due to the lagged effects of tight monetary policy. However, household food access is being limited by increasing fuel prices and marginal currency depreciation that continue to keep imported food prices high. The September national average prices of various fuels increased by between four and seven percent across the country compared to August. For instance, diesel, which is widely used in the transport sector, increased by at least four percent in different parts of the country while kerosene, which is widely used by poor households for lighting and cooking, increased at least by six percent in both pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. Increases in the diesel price result in increases in transportation costs, which are passed on to households in the form of increased food prices.

Food markets are functioning normally, except in regions where conflict has temporarily limited physical access or increased security and other operational costs. These costs inflate food prices making them more expensive for households to purchase. These areas include markets situated along the Kenya-Somalia border in Ijara, Mandera, and Wajir Districts. As supplies from the long rains maize harvest entered the market in most parts of the country, prices of maize declined from August to September. The magnitude of the decline varied across different markets based on other costs associated with maize marketing. For example, prices remained relatively constant in Kitui in the Southeast, and marginally declined in Marsabit. In some of the markets in pastoral areas, there was no decline at all as additional operating costs associated with conflict and more limited market access kept prices high. In Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Lodwar markets, the maize price increased between four and six percent from August to September. However, even for markets that had a seasonal decline, maize prices remained significantly above the five-year September average. In major urban markets, such as Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, and Mombasa, September maize prices remained at least 30 percent above the five-year average. By August, farmers had already harvested 0.8 million metric tons (MMT) of maize out of the estimated total output of 2.4 MMT.

The Ministry of State for Special Programs has allocated contingency funds for emergencies that could result from above average October to December rains. At the same time, the Ministry of Agriculture has started distributing 30,000 metric tons (MT) of fertilizers and certified seeds to farmers in order to increase agricultural productivity during the October to December short rains. The Ministry of Agriculture is also distributing planting materials for traditional crops, including cassava and sweet potatoes, in order to increase production in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). Traditional crops are, generally, not exported and have a small domestic market relative to other crops such as cereals. Traditional crops are typically consumed as substitutes for cereals such as maize and are often consumed by the same households who grow them, partially shielding these households from the price fluctuations of grains both during the post-harvest sales period and during the lean season peak of market purchases.

Assumptions

The national food security outcomes through March 2013 are based on the following assumptions:

  • The October-to-December 2012 short rains are likely to be average to above average in most parts of the country. They will start in a relatively timely manner and will be fairly well distributed across time, but they will have somewhat uneven spatial distribution. While typical of the short rains, uneven spatial distribution means some pocket areas are likely to receive below average total rainfall over the course of the season.
  • Maize availability will improve through March 2013. The long rains maize harvesting will be concluded by the end of January with the forecasted harvest between September and February being around 1.6 MMT. The overall total harvest from the long rains by February is expected to be around 2.4 million MMT, which is almost 15 percent below the five-year average of 2.9 MMT. Harvests from the average to above average October to December short rains are expected to be average to above average, thus partly compensating for the long rains maize deficit.
  • Maize prices will continue falling slowly from October to December but remain well above average due to the below average long rains output. From January to March, maize prices will decline further in response to the peak of the long rains harvest in January or February and the start of short rains harvest in February.
  • Fuel prices will increase and will be volatile through March. Price volatility will be driven by fluctuations in international crude oil prices and the domestic fuel price regulation which issues a monthly fuel price target on the 15th of each month.
  • The incidence of both livestock and human disease is likely to increase from October to December, especially in flooded areas. Incidences of water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria are expected to increase through January.
  • General inflation and food price inflation will continue to decline through March 2013 in response to improved food supplies from both the long rains from October to January and short rains harvest in February and March.
  • Regional trade will continue at high levels with imports of maize from Tanzania and Uganda expected to increase in volume through December. The continued imports would be in response to continued demand and the national deficit of almost half a million metric tons of maize. The tariff exemption for imported cereals that started in 2009 is expected to continue through at least March. Between February and March, cross-border maize inflows may decline owing to increased supply from the short rains harvests.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Food security is expected to improve in almost all parts of the country from October to March. Food consumption will increase through March. The October to December short rains are expected to improve both crop and livestock production. Improved food production will ease food prices and inflation and increase household food access. Average to above average October to December rains will improve water access and consumption. Increased milk production is expected from October through December following kidding, lambing, and calving particularly in pastoral areas. Milk consumption will increase, resulting in improved nutritional status. From January to March, the short rains maize harvest will improve household food access. Concurrently, the long rains harvest will peak between January and February. Maize prices are likely to decline further in January due to increased supply in the markets from the surplus-producing northern parts of the Rift Valley. From January through March, households are not expected to engage in coping strategies. Mortality rates are expected to be very low due to improved food consumption. Due to the increased availability of a variety of food items and improved market access to food, household dietary diversity is likely to improve. Between October and December, the food security situation for those in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Nationally, the food security situation is likely not to be any higher than Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March.

Areas of Concern

Pastoral areas

Current Situation

The areas of concern in pastoral areas include the southeastern pastoral livelihood zone comprising the southern part of Garissa, Tana River, and Ijara Districts and the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone in Mandera District. The March to June long rains regenerated pasture and browse, recharged water sources, and slightly increased milk production. From the regeneration of pasture and browse experienced during the March to June long rains, some small amount of pasture and browse is still available in some parts of the pastoral livelihood zones, although both the quality and availability have deteriorated since August. In these districts, distances to water increased marginally between August and September, and water stress was reported in several areas. The increased distance is, however, seasonal and not unusual during this period of the year. The October to December short rains were reported to have slowly started in some pastoral areas, improving access to water and water consumption considerably. However, livestock body conditions remain below average, and milk production and consumption is still low. In Mandera, due to relatively good pasture during the July to September dry season, livestock body conditions are fair. Early kidding and lambing in September and October in Mandera has resulted in a marginal increase in milk consumption.

In pastoral areas, livestock prices as well as sales volume remained relatively stable between August and September. Prices for cattle, goats, and sheep slightly declined from August to September. For example, from August to September, the price of a goat decreased from KES 2,600 to KES 2,422 and from KES 2,611 to KES 2,521 prices in Garissa and Ijara, respectively. These seemingly marginal declines are attributed to deteriorating livestock body conditions. An exception to the declining price trend is Mandera where the price of a goat increased from KES 4,137 to KES 4,664 from August to September. All livestock prices, whether increasing or decreasing, remained above the five-year average for September. While livestock prices generally fell, maize prices were stable in some areas, for instance, in Mandera and Ijara Districts. In other areas, maize prices increased slightly, for example, in Garissa where the price of maize rose five percent from August to September. The trend of increasing maize prices and decreasing goat prices meant that, the goat to maize terms of trade continued to decline across the southeastern pastoral livelihood zone, decreasing household access to food from August to September. However, terms of trade increased slightly in Madera District due to the slight increase in goat prices.

Households are using coping strategies, which are indicative of possible livelihood change. However, no severe coping strategies have been reported. Some of the strategies being employed include increasing petty trading, seeking additional casual labor, remittances, borrowing money on credit, and charcoal burning. For instance, in Ijara, pastoralists have partly given up livestock-related, income-generating activities for additional petty trading. In Garissa, where food prices have increased, livestock prices deteriorated, and general food distribution (GFD) has been limited in August and September, households reported skipping meals and reducing the sizes of their meals.

Despite food security interventions including general food distribution, supplementary feeding, and water trucking, food and water consumption declined between August and September. Low food consumption and poor consumption of milk, particularly in Garissa, is raising malnutrition rates. The percentage of children under five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition (with a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) under 135 millimeters (mm)) increased slightly from August to September. In Ijara and Mandera, the proportion of children ‘at risk’ is above the five-year average for September. The deteriorated nutritional situation is attributed to poor protein and milk consumption, especially in those areas where milk production had decreased. Of course, poor feeding practices also play a role. In Liboi in Garissa District, a cholera outbreak was reported and killed at least 36 people in September. The outbreak is now under control. Otherwise, no major disease outbreaks or other health problems that could be causing spikes in malnutrition rates were reported. Declining food consumption is the likely cause then of the slight increase in the children ‘at risk’ of malnutrition in the southeastern and northeastern pastoral livelihood zones. The food security is at Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the southern parts of Garissa, Ijara, Tana River, and Wajir Districts and in the parts of Mandera District that border Somalia. In other pastoral areas, poor households are primarily at Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Assumptions

In addition to the national level assumptions, the food security outcomes in pastoral areas are based on the following:

  • Livestock production will likely improve between October and March. Normal rates of lambing, kidding, and calving are expected through December, following near normal conceptions between May and June during the long rains for small ruminants. Survival rates will be above average due to the availability of pasture and browse, shortened distances to drinking points, and increased water availability as from October.
  • Livestock prices will likely remain high above their five-year averages from October to March since livestock owners will try to increase their herd sizes and may not sell until after livestock body conditions peak at the end of the rainy season in December. Demand for livestock is likely to remain at current, somewhat high levels, keeping livestock prices relatively high and livestock to cereal terms of trade relatively favorable in the pastoral areas from October to March. 
  • Flooding is likely to occur, especially in low lying areas of the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone such as areas around Garissa and lower Tana River District. Floods will disrupt transportation networks and market systems. 
  • Conflicts are likely to intensify and spread during political campaigns, both in the time leading up to and following the elections in March. Localized conflicts are likely to disrupt marketing systems and livelihood activities, inflating marketing and security costs and hindering the movement of food supplies from surplus to deficit regions.
  • Both food and non-food assistance, which are already funded, will continue from October to March. N on-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations (UN) agencies that are implementing food and cash programs will pre-position food and non-food supplies to ensure continuity in areas likely to have limited road access during the October to December short rains.
  • Trade between Kenya and Somalia will likely improve from October to December following improved security in Kisimayo, Somalia, a major port. It is expected that imports of sugar, rice, wheat products, and other goods including cattle will gradually increase, leading to improved local supply in the areas bordering Somalia. Prices of the imported foodstuffs will consequently decline, but no decline is expected in cattle prices.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Pasture and browse will regenerate due to the average to above average October to December short rains, distances to livestock watering points will decrease, and as a result, livestock water intake will increase. As such, milk production will increase from October to March as lambing, calving, and kidding takes place in November. Improved milk production will likely result in increased milk consumption and improve household nutritional status. Similarly, there is a likely increase in milk sales, which will lead to an increase in household income and consequently an increase in household purchasing power. Poor households selling milk will be able to purchase other food items, leading to improved dietary diversity.

Livestock herd sizes are expected to increase following kidding, lambing, and calving by mid-November. Since the births will coincide with good pasture availability, seasonally high browse quality, and good availability of water, survival rates should be above average. Similarly, livestock body conditions are expected to improve starting in October leading to increases in prices. Although maize prices are likely to remain high through February, the persistently high above average livestock prices are likely to maintain favorable livestock to maize terms of trade. After February, as the short rains harvest improves the market supply of maize and maize prices continue to decline, purchasing power for pastoral households is likely to improve further. Although there is a likely increase in occurrences of water- and vector-borne diseases, the proportion of the children under five years of age ‘at risk’ of malnutrition (with MUAC less than 135 mm) is expected to decline in pastoral areas owing, primarily, to increased milk consumption and dietary diversity. In those parts of the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as of October, the start of the short rains is expected to improve these areas to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by December. From January to March, food security across all pastoral livelihood zones is expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas

Current Situation

The effects of the far below average March to June long rains are evident in most parts of the southeastern marginal agricultural livelihood zone, particularly in Makueni, Mwingi, Kitui, and Mbeere Districts. Households have depleted their available food stocks and are depending on market purchases. However, seasonal casual labor opportunities for land preparation and planting have increased, and these activities are providing cash for food purchases. Casual labor opportunities have already picked up in those areas where the short rains have started. The increase in income from casual labor opportunities strengthens households’ capacity to purchase food though food prices remain quite high.

In areas where both maize prices and market dependency continue to increase, household access to food continues to worsen. High prices of maize, far above normal seasonal highs, were reported in Makueni District where one kilogram (kg) of maize cost KES 40 in September. In addition, the distance to water sources for both livestock and human consumption increased by at least one kilometer (km) during September. For instance, in Makueni District, distance to water for both human and livestock consumption increased to just over five km in September. Although the short rains have already started, they have not yet reached the most food insecure areas such as the lowlands of Makueni and Kitui. The October to December short rains have started in Meru North District, and the distances to water points have shortened considerably. In Meru North District, flash floods have already destroyed some roads, and displacements due to flooding have been reported. However, pasture and browse have not yet improved, and livestock body conditions remain below average. Livestock prices are still low due to poor body conditions, and the market supply of livestock remains high. Livestock continue to be sold to meet immediate financial demands such as to cover the purchase of agricultural inputs. Another source of livestock on the market are the pastoralists who migrated into the district from neighbouring areas of Isiolo and Garbatulla Districts and have not yet returned to their wet season grazing areas.

From August to September, the percentage of children ‘at risk’ of malnutrition (with MUAC less than 135 mm) increased marginally in Makueni District due to the decline in milk consumption, depletion of household food stocks, possibly poor water consumption, and limited household food access due to high food prices. In Kitui District, the ‘at risk’ of malnutrition rate marginally declined from 15 percent in August to 14 percent in SeptemberHowever, the rate remains high above the five-year average with extremely high levels of 23 percent ‘at risk’ of malnutrition reported for the marginal mixed farming livelihood zone in Kitui District. The food security situation remains precarious with some proportions of the population in Kitui District still classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Other areas in the marginal mixed farming areas are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in October.

Assumptions

In addition to the national assumptions, specific assumptions for the southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture lowlands are as follows:

  • Compared to typical year, casual labor opportunities are expected to increase considerably from October to February with opportunities for land preparation in November, weeding during December and January, and harvesting in February all being above average.
  • Compared to a typical year, pre- and post-harvest losses are expected to increase in the southeastern marginal mixed farming livelihood zone, as farmers are likely to harvest food crops with very high moisture content in February.
  • Flash floods and landslides resulting from average to above average rains are likely to damage crops and cause displacements at a limited, localized scale.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Food and water consumption and nutritional status are expected to improve, at least due in part, cue to improvements in food production and the availability of casual labor opportunities. Average to above average October to December short rains in the marginal agricultural lowlands of the Southeast are expected to increase crop production, improving food availability. Casual labor opportunities and wages are expected to increase throughout the short rains agricultural season from October to February. Increased casual labor will increase poor households’ incomes, their purchasing power, and food access. For instance, in Taita Taveta District where casual labor is a major source of income and accounts for over 45 percent of the total annual household income, the October to December rains will improve food security by increasing households’ largest source of income.

Before the start of the short rains harvest, the green harvest that starts around mid-December will improve households’ food consumption, especially in the southeastern marginal agricultural and coastal lowlands. Maize prices are expected to decline from January through March, making it easier for households to access food. Household’s dietary diversity is likely to improve due to improved incomes from casual labor and declining maize prices, freeing up income for purchasing other foods. The early green harvests of legumes will also improve dietary diversity. Water consumption is also expected to improve as distances to water sources will shorten. For instance, in Kitui, where consumption of water has declined considerably in the August and October lean season, the short rains are expected to increase the availability of water and to shorten the distances to water points, consequently, leading to increased availability and use of water.

Once the short rains harvest begins in February, food availability and sales to markets will increase. Maize prices are expected to decline even further, increasing household food access until March 2013. However, malnutrition levels might not fall due to disease outbreaks. By December, those areas which were in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). While food security will improve between October and March for households who are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2), these households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March.

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Area

Event

Impact on food security outcomes

Southeastern marginal agricultural and coastal lowlands

Introduction and spread of maize lethal necrosis disease (MNLD)

Reduced household availability of and access to food

Southeastern marginal mixed farming livelihood zone

Below average October to December short rains

Reduced food production and availability and reduced household incomes from crop sales

Southeastern marginal mixed farming livelihood zone

Unexpected food price increases, especially for maize

Reduced household access to food

Northeastern pastoral areas

Below average October to December short rains

Increased distances to water points and deterioration of livestock body conditions, which would reduce milk production and lead to a decline in food consumption and, consequently, a deterioration in households’ nutritional status

Northeastern pastoral areas

Significant decline in livestock prices and increased food prices

Decline in households’ food access due to deterioration in livestock to maize terms of trade

Northeastern pastoral areas

Increased mortality of livestock at the onset of October to December short rains

Loss of livestock would lead to a decline in the recovery of herd sizes and potential income shortfalls from lack of young males to sell

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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