Below-average short rains drive food insecurity across pastoral regions
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Following the below-average March to May long rains across most of the country, the below-average recovery of rangeland resources in pastoral areas has resulted in widespread migration of pastoral herds in search of better pasture and water. In the marginal agricultural areas, the below-average long rains resulted in below-average crop production and household food stocks. From June through September, the rapid degradation of rangeland resources in pastoral areas resulted in declining livestock body conditions and below-average milk production, driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in pastoral areas. In the marginal agricultural areas, below-average crop sales and income from agricultural labor opportunities are driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes at the start of the October to December short rains.
The short-rains season started in September over the western bimodal rainfall zones, with above to normal rainfall. However, much of the country has remained abnormally drier and hotter-than-normal, especially across Kenya's northeastern, eastern and coastal pastoral zones (Figure 1). The delayed onset of the October-December seasonal rains in these areas is expected to result in a third consecutive below-average rainy season.
Crop and livestock production: According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in the high and medium rainfall areas of Rift Valley, western Kenya, and central Kenya, improved rainfall in September benefited maize crop conditions as crops recovered. However, there are reports of the maize crop being affected by Fall Armyworm (FAW) in Trans Nzoia and Baringo counties in the North Rift region and Lethal Maize Necrosis Disease (LMND) in parts of Elgeyo Marakwet county. In the South Rift regions, crop conditions are favorable only in Kericho and upper zones of Bomet and Nakuru; however, in the lower parts of Nakuru, Bomet, and Kajiado, despite the rains resuming in July, the crop did not recover well and is in poor condition. The maize crop is currently being harvested with a forecast production of 40 percent of the five-year average. In the Central region, the crop is in poor condition in the lower parts of Kiambu, Murang'a, and Nyeri counties; but in good condition in the higher altitude regions. Overall, the harvest is expected to be 75 percent of the long-term average across the central region. In the Nyanza region, an important maize-producing area, harvesting is ongoing. Across most of the region, production is anticipated to be near normal to above-normal except in Kisumu and Siaya counties, where the harvest is likely to range between 37-52 percent of the five-year average due to poor temporal distribution of rainfall. Overall, production in the Nyanza region is expected to be 77 percent of the five-year average. The maize harvest is complete in the lower zones in the Western region, with production expected to be 94 percent of the five-year averages. The bean crop is in the flowering to the podding stage, and crop conditions are favorable in the western parts of the North Rift, Kirinyaga and Embu counties, and upper Nyanza, but poor in Meru, Murang'a, Nyeri, and lower Nyanza counties. In the marginal agricultural areas, land preparation is ongoing for the October-December 2021 short rains but at a below-average level due to the late start to the season. In Kwale and Kilifi counties, the harvest of the long rains season maize crop is ongoing and likely to be 43 and 16 percent of the five-year average, respectively.
According to the proxy-satellite Normalized Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI), the vegetation conditions are average to above average in the western part of the country, and significantly above average in the northwestern parts of Turkana, where vegetation greenness is above 140 percent of average (Figure 2). However, vegetation greenness is below average across most of eastern Kenya, ranging between 60-90 percent of average, with vegetation greenness likely less than 60 percent of the median along the coast.
In September, data from the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel sites indicate that livestock return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources are increasing as forage and water resources continue to decline. Distances range from 12.5-28 km and are 6-51 percent above the three-year average, apart from Garissa, where trekking distances were recorded on average at 28 kilometers but 7 percent below the three-year average. Livestock body conditions are below average across all pastoral areas and are on a declining trend. In Marsabit and Turkana, livestock body conditions are "fair", while in Garissa and Isiolo, livestock body conditions are "fair to poor", with "poor" livestock body conditions in Wajir and Mandera, reflecting the decline in forage resources. Livestock migration continues across the pastoral areas, with all counties recording intra-county migration with out-migration witnessed in Garissa and Wajir.
Household water availability continues to decline as return trekking distances increase and water resources gradually get depleted. Household return trekking distances range from 8.4-14 kilometers, except in Isiolo, where the return trekking distance is 4.1 kilometers. Most household return trekking distances are 12-61 percent above average except in Turkana and Isiolo, where piped water supply and groundwater resources such as boreholes keep trekking distances 16-19 percent below the short-term averages. The USGS Water Point Viewer indicates that water points across Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, and Marsabit are likely near-dry to dry due to the delayed start of the short rains and lack of recharge (Figure 3). However, in Turkana, monitored water points are good to watch, recharged from more recent rains. The increasing trekking distances to water sources continue to constrain participation in casual labor, crop sales, charcoal burning, and other livelihood activities, reducing opportunities for obtaining food and income.
Markets and trade: In the urban reference markets, wholesale maize prices in September are within the five-year average in Kisumu and 7 percent below average in Mombasa due to the availability of the long rains harvests. However, in Eldoret and Nairobi, maize prices range between 8-15 percent above average due to increased demand as traders stock up in anticipation of the below-average October to December short rains season. Despite a relative increase in supplies of dry beans from the long rains harvests, demand for the commodity remains high due to prolonged scarcity. As a result, bean prices in September are 30-43 percent above the five-year average. Maize retail prices in September in the marginal agricultural areas are within the five-year averages, stabilized by available local harvests and cross-border supplies from Tanzania. The price of retail dry beans is 10-15 percent above average. Across the pastoral markets, maize prices are 6-37 percent above average due to reduced local supplies following below-average production in the source markets and reduced cross-border imports from Ethiopia and Somalia due to border closures. However, in Turkana, maize prices in monitored markets are within the five-year averages driven by available supplies from Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties. Livestock prices are decreasing due to declining livestock body conditions, with goat prices 6-26 percent below the five-year average. However, in Isiolo, livestock prices are 6 percent above the five-year average, likely driven by high demand from urban areas and low market supply.
COVID-19: By October 26, Kenya had a seven-day rolling average of 90 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, with a testing positivity rate of 1.7 percent over the past three days. As of October 26, around 5.08 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, enough to vaccinate around 10.6 percent of the population with at least one vaccine dose. The vaccination rate currently stands at 3.1 percent of the adult population, while 7.5 percent of the adult population has been partially vaccinated. On October 20, the government lifted the 10 pm to 4 am night-time curfew, which is expected to increase economic activity, particularly for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and public service vehicles.
Interannual and emergency food assistance: Due to funding shortfalls, WFP is reducing food rations from 60 percent to 52 percent of the daily 2100 kcal full ration for 440,000 refugees in Kenya from October through December. The reduction in rations is likely to result in increased reliance on remittances and income from trade, casual labor, and formal employment to purchase food from markets, along with increasing reliance on consumption and livelihood coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps. WFP has further warned it will likely halt assistance altogether by the end of 2021 if further funds are not received. WFP is seeking 40.4 million USD to restore full food rations to refugees in Dadaab, Kakuma, and Kalobeyei settlements over the next six months. Across Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, and Mandera counties, over 100,000 food-insecure households continue to receive bi-monthly cash transfers equivalent to 40 percent of 2100 kcal daily requirement through NDMA's Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP). Following the declaration of drought as a national emergency, the government announced the release of 2 billion KES (approximately 18 million USD) to mitigate the impact of the drought, in addition to the 1.7 billion KS (approximately 15.3 million USD) earlier announced for food assistance. A Flash Appeal was launched in September for around 139 million USD, which is about 5 percent is funded. Under the Flash Appeal, an estimated 1.3 million people are expected to be targeted with humanitarian assistance in 20 arid and semi-arid areas, with Embu, Narok, and Nyeri excluded from the Flash Appeal response as they do not currently face a risk of severe drought. The Kenya Humanitarian Partnerships Team is engaging with the NDMA to ensure that the humanitarian response complements the government's planned response.
Current food security outcomes
Urban areas outcomes: Over the last year and a half, COVID-19 control measures have constrained urban poor households' access to income through reductions in casual labor opportunities and limited business operating hours. With the lifting of the night curfew, economic activity in the transport, hospitality, entertainment, and other sectors has increased. This is likely to provide more income-earning opportunities for urban poor households and improve their purchasing power. However, after almost 16 months of below-average income and the application of consumption and livelihood-based strategies, most urban poor households are likely sustaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
Marginal areas outcomes: In the marginal agricultural areas, despite maize prices being within the five-year average, below-average income from crop sales, agricultural wage labor, and petty trade is limiting household purchasing power. According to NDMA sentinel site data, food consumption scores (FCS) deteriorated across the marginal agricultural areas with at least one in five households reporting borderline or poor FCS, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, except in Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka) and Nyeri (Kieni). Across marginal agricultural areas, households are increasingly applying consumption-based coping strategies such as reducing meal portion sizes and meal frequency, using less preferred or less expensive food and borrowing from neighbors. Relatedly, the NDMA sentinel sites recorded households engaging in coping strategies, as measured by the reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI), indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, in Taita Taveta and Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), households are engaged in coping strategies indicative of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, respectively. The proportion of children under five years of age at risk of malnutrition as measured by Middle Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC < 135mm) is increasing across all the marginal agricultural areas, apart from Taita Taveta, where the proportion of children at risk was not significant. As household food stocks diminish, household access to food and income remains below-average, driven by reduced income from agricultural wage labor, petty trade, and crop sales, which is limiting household purchasing power. Overall, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present across the marginal agricultural areas, with the most affected households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Pastoral area outcomes: Apart from the northwest areas of Turkana and West Pokot, deteriorating forage and water conditions persist across pastoral areas. The below-average rangeland resources are driving atypical migration across the pastoral areas, which is reducing livestock productivity and household milk access. Milk production ranges from 0.75-1.5 liters per household per day and is 21-53 percent below average across the pastoral areas. The below-average milk production is reflected by below-average household milk consumption, which ranges from 0.6-1.5 liters per household per day, around 47-88 percent of average. At least one in five pastoral households at the NDMA sentinel sites reported borderline or poor FCS, attributed to below-average milk consumption and below-average purchasing power, limiting household market access. Households are increasingly applying consumption-based coping strategies like reducing meal frequency, reducing meal portion sizes, eating less preferred foods, reducing adult food intake, and sending children to eat elsewhere. Overall, at least one in five households across the pastoral areas are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes driven by reduced access to income and food as livestock body conditions and productivity decline due to dwindling forage and water resources.
The October 2021 to May 2022 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Based on international and regional forecasts, the October-December 2021 short rains are most likely to have an uneven and delayed start and be below-average and warmer than normal, influenced by a weak La Nina and negative IOD conditions. According to the precipitation-based drought outlook based on the standardized precipitation index (SPI), a multi-season drought is likely to strengthen in eastern Kenya and drive significantly below-average production of staple food crops in the 2021 short rains and 2022 long rains.
- Based on historical analogs, the March-May 2022 long rains in northern and eastern Kenya are likely to be below average, while the start of the February-August 2022 long rains in western unimodal Kenya is likely to be average. However, there is an uncertainty given the long-range nature of these forecasts.
- According to FEWS NET technical price projections for the Nairobi reference market, wholesale maize prices are expected to remain 7-30 percent above the five-year average and range from 3,200-4,400 KES, moderated by the 2021 long rains harvests from the high and medium rainfall areas and cross-border regional imports. The price volatility will vary between 1.4-4 percent through the scenario period
- Wholesale bean prices in the Nairobi reference market are expected to remain 28-37 percent above the five-year average and follow seasonal trends through the scenario period. Prices are expected to range from 9,300-10,900 KES. Prices are expected to remain high due to low carryover stocks and a below-average 2021 long rains harvest. In the upcoming 2021 short rains, the anticipated poor harvest is expected to keep supplies below average, driving high demand and continued dependence on cross-border imports from neighboring countries.
- Following a 6-13 percent increase in gasoline, diesel, and kerosene prices in mid-September, fuel prices were revised downwards in mid-October but remained 2-6 percent higher than fuel prices before the initial price hike. Driven by global oil price fluctuations and a lack of funds in the local stabilization fund, it is expected that fuel prices will remain elevated and result in a slight increase in food and non-food commodity prices nationally throughout the scenario period.
- The 2021 short rains crop production in the marginal agricultural areas is expected to be significantly below average, driven by below-average rainfall, warmer than normal temperatures, and reduced seed availability following the previous poor cropping season. However, poor households may prioritize planting more drought-tolerant crops like sorghum and green grams to maximize production, but this is dependent on the availability of seeds and fertilizer for poor households distributed by national and county governments and humanitarian agencies. In the 2022 March to May long rains season, the short-cycle crop harvest in May is expected to be below average, driven by the long-range forecast of below-average rainfall.
- Forage and water resources are expected to deteriorate faster than usual and be below average in the pastoral areas by late October. The start of the October to December short rains is expected to drive short-lived regeneration of these resources, but due to poor distribution and cumulatively below-average rainfall, rangeland resources are expected to be nearing depletion by early December. From late March through May, forage, and water resources are likely to have below-average regeneration from the forecast below-average March to May long rains.
- Atypical migration is expected to continue through the scenario period as the below-average rangeland resources prompt some livestock to remain in the dry-season grazing areas even as the below-average October to December short rains begin. In December, as rangeland resources diminish, livestock are expected to migrate in search of better rangeland resources and will migrate further than the normal distances to different areas. The increased distances away from the homesteads will reduce household milk availability and consumption significantly.
- Increased return trekking distances to water sources from grazing areas are expected to rapidly deteriorate livestock body conditions, reducing livestock productivity, sale values, and milk production. The reduction in productivity is expected to reduce income from milk and livestock sales significantly. Additionally, households are expected to sell more livestock and consume less milk than normal to fill food consumption and income gaps.
- In the marginal agricultural areas, the below-average 2021 short rains and 2022 long rains are expected to result in below-average crop production, which will reduce on-farm casual wage labor opportunities and crop sales, reducing household income.
- As livestock continue to migrate, resource-based conflicts are expected to intensify at least until mid-November, when forage and water resources improve from the below-average short rains. As forage and water resources dwindle, above-average migration will resume and result in conflict over resources between different clans and communities, livestock herders, crop farmers, and private ranch owners from early to mid-December. These clashes will likely result in property loss, human fatalities, and the disruption of livelihood activities, increasing food insecurity among the affected households.
- According to the Ministry of Health, Kenya has received at least 5.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, enough doses to vaccinate approximately 10 percent of the population. As of October 30, approximately 6.7 percent of the population have received at least one vaccine dose. As the vaccination rate increases, COVID-19 related restrictions will likely be gradually lifted through the scenario period to improve economic activity. Increased economic activity is likely to improve income-earning opportunities and household food access for urban poor households.
- From October 2021 to January 2021, acute malnutrition rates are expected to worsen due to reduced food access from poor long rain harvests in marginal agricultural areas and low access to milk and income in pastoral counties. However, from February-May 2022, the short rains harvest and improved milk production and consumption from the short rains are expected to improve acute malnutrition rates. In pastoral areas, higher but Critical (GAMWHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition will remain prevalent throughout the scenario period. In the marginal agricultural areas, Acceptable (GAMWHZ <5 percent) to Serious (GAM WHZ 10-14.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition will remain prevalent through the scenario period.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
In the urban areas, below-average incomes among poor urban households are likely to gradually increase with the lifting of the curfew and the COVID-19 vaccination drive, as labor demand and income-earning opportunities improve in formal and informal sectors. With increasing household income, food access will gradually improve for the urban poor households boosted by below-average to average staple food prices. However, poor households are expected to continue relying on credit facilities to bridge income and food gaps, with some of the worse-off households expected to employ livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at least through December, with a small proportion employing coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) such as asset liquidation and engaging in illicit trades. With staple food prices projected to remain below average through the scenario period, it is likely that most poor households will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as household access to income increases, with less than one in five poor households unable to obtain their minimum food needs without engaging in unsustainable coping strategies and likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
In marginal agricultural areas, the forecast below-average October to December will likely drive below-average crop production activities among the better-off households, reducing casual wage labor opportunities and household income for poor and very poor households. As household food stocks decline between October and late November, household dependence on market purchases will increase, resulting in a decline in household food access and availability due to below-average income. However, household food access will be supported by average to below-average staple food prices as the long rains harvests from the high and medium rainfall areas enter the market. Households are expected to rely on off-farm income sources like the sale of charcoal, petty trade, and remittances as key sources of income, but these are likely to be below average due to increased competition. In December, the harvest of the likely below-average short-cycle crops will keep household food availability and consumption below-average through mid-February when the below-average main harvest becomes available. The short rains main harvest is likely to mitigate increasing food insecurity through early April when household stocks are depleted. From early March, the forecast below-average March to May long rains will provide below average casual wage labor opportunities during the planting and weeding seasons through April. In May, the harvest of the short cycle crops will become available and improve household food availability momentarily. Through the outlook period, below-average access to income from agricultural labor opportunities, off-farm labor opportunities, and below-average harvests of the 2021 short rains and 2022 long rains are likely to maintain household access to enough income and food stocks to maintain their food needs but be unable to afford their non-food needs, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, the worst-affected areas are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
In pastoral areas, the forecast below-average October-December short rains will provide some short-lived improvements to the rangeland resources and reduce return trekking distances to water sources, but this is unlikely to bring back livestock herds to the wet-season grazing areas. Most of the herds will likely remain in the dry-season grazing areas where forage and water conditions will likely be better. Despite improvements in livestock productivity during the rainy seasons, household milk availability is expected to remain below average as livestock herds remain away from homesteads. However, household income from livestock sales will likely improve slightly as livestock body conditions improve and there is increased market demand in urban areas. From December through March, the decline of rangeland resources will drive livestock in the homesteads to the dry season grazing areas. The herds already in the dry season grazing areas are expected to migrate further in search of forage and water resources, reducing livestock productivity and household milk access. Livestock productivity is likely to decline and reduce in sale value, further reducing household income and increasing household dependence on non-livestock income sources like construction, petty trade, and charcoal and firewood sales, which are likely to be below average due to increased competition, a constrained economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and high fuel prices. Households are likely to increase their application of coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps, including reducing the number of meals and portion sizes, sending children to eat elsewhere, reducing expenditures on healthcare, the sale of more animals than usual, and the sale of last female animals, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes. Higher but Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition will likely remain prevalent throughout the scenario period. Through most of the March to May 2022 long rains, at least one in five households will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with the worst-affected and most vulnerable households likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. However, in April and May, short-term improvements in rangeland resources and livestock body conditions will likely provide short-term improvements to goat body conditions and productivity, increasing household access to food and income.
EVENTS THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE OUTLOOK
Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.
|AREA||EVENT||IMPACT ON FOOD SECURITY CONDITIONS|
|National||Increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines||An increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines will increase the vaccination rate and accelerate the removal of COVID-19 related restrictions. Increased economic activity will likely improve urban poor access to income and drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.|
|National||Fully funded drought emergency appeal||A fully funded drought emergency appeal will support interventions across various sectors, including humanitarian assistance, and likely drive Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in pastoral areas.|
|Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone in Isiolo and Wajir Counties||Average March to May long rains||Average March to May long rains will drive greater regeneration of forage and water resources and improve livestock productivity, sale values, and milk production and consumption. Greater access to food and income will likely drive Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in the AOC.|
|Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone in Isiolo and Wajir Counties||Active peace and reconciliation activities and increased presence of security personnel||In the conflict-affected areas, active peace and reconciliation activities, and increased presence of security personnel, may help reduce resource-based conflict and deter terrorist activities in the areas bordering Somalia. With better access to food, income, and humanitarian assistance, poor households will likely face Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.|
|Coastal Marginal Agricultural Livelihood Zone||Well below average 2022 March to May long rains||Below average 2022 March to May long rains will result in limited agricultural waged labor opportunities during the March to May long rains season and crop failure in July 2022. Household access to food and income will be below average, and at least one in five poor households will likely experience food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.|
|Coastal Marginal Agricultural Livelihood Zone||Stricter COVID-19 restrictions||A resurgence of COVID-19 cases will likely result in stricter control measures internally and at cross-border points. The resulting supply chain delays will increase prices to higher than currently projected levels, impacting household purchasing power.|
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.
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.
Region Contact Information