Food Security Outlook

Humanitarian assistance provides some relief, but Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist

October 2022 to May 2023

October 2022 - January 2023

February - May 2023

IPC v3.1 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 v3.1 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 v3.1 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 v3.1 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.

Key Messages

  • The historic drought, which has now persisted into a fifth consecutive rainy season, is expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through at least mid-2023 across Kenya’s northern and eastern arid and semi-arid lands. Cumulative rainfall has been less than 55 percent of the 40-year average since October 1st, leading to severely diminished food and income from livestock production among pastoral households and crop production and agricultural labor among agropastoral and farming households. Ongoing humanitarian food assistance and government safety nets are expected to mitigate large food consumption deficits among beneficiary households, resulting in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes in several counties through January. However, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely persist in the worst-affected areas of Turkana and Marsabit, where there remains a high level of need and high prevalence of acute malnutrition despite food assistance deliveries. 

  • Pastoral households continue to face precipitous declines in milk availability and livestock-related sources of food and income. As of September, the Kenyan government estimates that around 2.4 million livestock have died due to drought-related causes. County-level estimates indicate that cattle have around a nine percent mortality rate, while sheep and goats have around a six percent mortality rate. Poor rangeland resources have led household members to migrate most of their livestock far away from typical grazing areas and homesteads, limiting milk consumption among women, children, and the elderly. Livestock body conditions are largely in poor to very poor condition, with livestock reproduction increasingly unviable. Many households are primarily relying on income earned from casual labor or self-employment, as well as cash or in-kind food assistance via government safety nets and humanitarian aid, to minimize food consumption gaps.  

  • In the marginal agricultural areas, cropping activities have been delayed due to the late onset of the October to December rains. Well-below average rainfall is limiting land preparation and planting activities, resulting in below-average agricultural labor opportunities for poor and very poor households. Depleted household food stocks are increasing dependence on high-priced staple foods from the markets, with households relying on income from off-farm labor activities like causal labor and petty trade. Households are applying livelihood and consumption-based coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

  • Given the severity of drought impacts, FEWS NET continues to closely monitor the potential for a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Kenya. Based on available food assistance plans, and given that humanitarian access and government capacity for safety nets are expected to remain normal during the outlook period, the likelihood of a scenario in which no food assistance reaches the drought-affected population is currently still considered low. FEWS NET assesses that both regular safety nets and emergency assistance would need to be minimal or completely absent to lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5), with particular concern for Turkana and Marsabit where acute malnutrition levels are already high. Otherwise, significant delays or interruptions in assistance would likely lead to an increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), as well as some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). It must be emphasized that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes – associated with an increase in acute malnutrition and mortality levels – are still extremely concerning.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

Rainfall performance: The October to December short rains have had a late onset, with cumulative rainfall in October largely less than 85 percent of the 30-year average across most of Kenya (Figure 1). The rainfall deficits are more pronounced in the northwestern, coastal, southeastern, and northeastern areas, with cumulative rainfall less than 55 percent of the 30-year average in October. In western Kenya, apart from the lake basin region that received 70 to 95 percent of average rainfall, the rains have been mostly above average, ranging from 105 to 130 percent of the 30-year average, with localized areas receiving over 130 percent of the 30-year average rainfall.

Crop production: On September 20, a government directive announced that 3.55 billion KES (~29.1 million USD) will be used to subsidize 71,000 MT (1.42 million 50-kilogram bags) of fertilizer for use during the short rains season, at a maximum subsidized price of 3,500 KES (~29 USD) per 50-kilogram bag — down from 6,500 KES (~53 USD) per 50-kilogram bag — to boost crop production and address the high cost of living. Individual farmers are entitled to a maximum of 100 bags each from National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots and sub-depots country wide. It is expected that farmers in the medium and high potential areas are likely to benefit the most from this subsidy as the below-average rainfall in the marginal agricultural areas limits planting.  

Harvesting of long rains crops is continuing in the high and medium rainfall areas, particularly in cooler regions of the North Rift and the unimodal central regions. In the relatively warmer areas of Nyanza and parts of the western region, planting for the October to December short rains crop is ongoing. In the bimodal marginal agricultural areas, land preparation for the October to December short rains began in September; however, the delayed onset of rainfall is delaying planting activities and constraining agricultural casual wage labor opportunities, especially for poor and very poor households.

Livestock body conditions: In October, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel site data indicates that livestock body conditions in the marginal areas are fair to poor for all species of livestock, while in the pastoral areas, livestock body conditions for most livestock are poor to very poor, except in Isiolo and Wajir, where livestock body conditions are deteriorating but in fair to poor condition. The below-average livestock body conditions are being driven by the record-breaking fifth successive below-average rainfall season, along with increased return trekking distances between grazing areas and water sources.

Pasture conditions: Following four consecutive below-average rainy seasons and a poor start to a likely fifth below-average rainy season, the NDMA is reporting that browse and pasture conditions are largely poor in the northwestern, northern, and northeastern pastoral livelihood zones. Remote-sensing data, including the satellite-derived eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), is confirming ground reports that vegetation greenness is less than 80 percent of normal across most of Kenya (Figure 2). In particular, in the northwestern, northern, northeastern, and southeastern areas of Kenya, vegetation greenness is less than 60 percent of the 2012 to 2021 mean. The poor pasture conditions are driving pastoral households to migrate their herds further from their homesteads to find adequate pasture and water resources to keep their livestock alive.

Return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources in the marginal agricultural areas are around 4 to 11 kilometers, slightly higher than the five-year average for October. However, in Meru (Meru North), return trekking distances are 32 kilometers due to the limited number of functioning boreholes, compared to the five-year average of around 13 kilometers. In the pastoral areas, the trekking distances ranged from 15 to 38 kilometers, around 11 to 35 percent above average, but more than double the average distance in Marsabit. The trekking distances are on an upward trend as water sources continue to dry up and forage dwindles in the grazing areas.

Livestock migration: In the pastoral areas, intra-county migration is taking place, along with inter-county migration to neighboring pastoral counties and to marginal agricultural areas such as Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Kitui, and Lamu. Additionally, migration to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Somalia has been reported from Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Turkana, and West Pokot. The increased concentration of livestock in areas with available pasture and water is resulting in over-grazing and further diminishing rangeland resources.

Milk production and consumption: Due to limited kidding and calving during the long rains, along with poor livestock body conditions, livestock milk production remains well below average in October. In pastoral areas, milk production ranges from 0 to 1.5 liters per household per day, with no milk production in Turkana and Samburu, compared to an average of 1.1 to over 2 liters of milk per household per day (Figure 3). In the marginal agricultural areas where rangeland resources are better, milk production ranges from 0.3 to 4 liters compared to the five-year average of 0.6 to 5 liters. Relatedly, milk consumption in most pastoral areas ranges from zero to 0.4 liters of milk per household per day, with households in Garissa reporting on average 0.9 liters of milk per household per day. Overall, milk production and availability are significantly lower than normal due to poor livestock body conditions and the fact that most livestock have migrated away from the homesteads in search of forage and water.

Domestic water access: Due to the delayed rainfall onset, water availability remains atypically low. Most open water sources such as pans, dams, and seasonal rivers remain dry, increasing household reliance on groundwater sources such as boreholes, traditional river wells, and shallow wells to atypically high levels.  As a result, household return trekking distances to watering points remain unseasonably long, ranging between 4 and 9 kilometers in October, compared to the five-year average of 2 to 8 kilometers. The drying up of most rivers in Meru (Meru North) has resulted in return trekking distances of 22 kilometers, in October, compared to the five-year average of 8 kilometers. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Water Point Viewer, water levels in the monitored waterpoints in the pastoral areas are currently ranging from 33 to 99 percent of the median levels, with approximately two-thirds of the monitored waterpoints nearly dry. Return trekking distances for water for domestic use in the pastoral areas range from 4.2 to 16.3 kilometers but were 24 percent below average in Isiolo due to availability of piped water, while remaining 25 to 80 percent longer than average across the rest of the counties. Overall, the trekking distances are on an upward trend as water levels continue to drop due to evaporation and continued high usage rates. Additionally, the increasing time it takes for households to fetch water takes away from other activities such as childcare and income-earning opportunities.

Markets and trade: Staple food prices remain significantly above average, constraining household food access. Generally, maize prices remained significantly higher than 2021 and the five-year average due to various factors, including below-average national production, high production and marketing costs due to high global and regional cereal, fuel, and fertilizer prices, and the strengthening of the USD against the KES, which is increasing the cost of importing goods.

In Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Mombasa, the major urban consumption markets, wholesale maize prices ranged from 5,600 to 6,400 KES per 90-kilogram bag and were 95 to 110 percent above average (Figure 4). In the pastoral areas, maize retail prices in October remained high due to increased food insecurity, driving an atypically high demand for both human and livestock consumption. Maize prices ranged from 87 to 118 KES and were 29 to 124 percent above the five-year average. In Marsabit and Isiolo, maize prices are over 80 percent higher than the five-year average, due to reduced local supplies from the marginal agricultural areas such as Meru and Laikipia and the high transport costs. In Mandera, prices are 29 percent higher than the five-year average due to a preference for other staples such as pasta and rice. Retail maize prices are 43 to 138 percent above the five-year average across the rest of the marginal agricultural areas due to the prevailing maize shortage following successive seasons of below-average production. In Kilifi, the availability of local harvests and cross-border imports from Tanzania are keeping maize prices 43 percent higher than the five-year average.

Dry bean prices remain high across Kenya, with wholesale dry bean prices in the urban reference markets ranging from 8,100 to 12,500 KES, around 35 to 44 percent above the five-year average, driven by successive below-average production seasons and declining cross-border imports. However, in Eldoret, bean prices are within the five-year average due to the availability of the long rains harvest from the medium-potential areas of western Kenya since August. Retail bean prices are 52 to 133 percent above the five-year average due to low local supplies, including those of substitutes such as cowpeas and green grams, following the below-average March to May long rains production, in addition to declining cross-border imports from Tanzania.

Livestock prices are continuing to decline due to below-average forage and water conditions. In October, the price of a mature medium-sized goat is unseasonably low, with most prices ranging from 16 to 42 percent below the five-year average, except in Garissa and Samburu, where goat prices are similar to the five-year average, although they are declining due to reduced demand and declining livestock body conditions. As a result of high maize prices and below-average goat prices, the goat-to-maize terms of trade are 35 to 67 percent below the five-year averages and are indicative of significantly below-average household food access.

Interannual and emergency food assistance: In response to the drought, the government has allocated an additional 2 billion KES (~16.39 million USD) following an initial 3.2 billion KES (~26.23 million USD) to mitigate the impacts of the drought across Kenya. The government has launched an appeal for an additional 16 billion KES (~131.16 million USD) to support drought response activities through December. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) the Kenya Drought Flash Appeal is around 63 percent funded. Approximately 100,000 households across Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, and Turkana counties continue to receive bi-monthly cash transfers of 5,400 KES (~44 USD), sufficient to meet six to nine days of monthly kilocalorie needs for a family of six through NDMA's Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) at current maize prices. Additionally, WFP is continuing to provide around 390,000 beneficiaries in nine arid counties with food transfers through its Sustainable Food Systems Program (SFSP) and has reached about 475,000 beneficiaries with food and cash transfers through its Lisha Jamii program. WFP is planning to continue the SFSO and Lisha Jamii program through February. Around 440,000 refugees are also receiving cash and food rations equivalent to 52 percent of a daily 2,100-kilocalorie diet from WFP. Other humanitarian partners are also engaged in various interventions, including water trucking, distributing cash transfers and humanitarian assistance, along with the distribution of livestock feed and livestock destocking programs.

Acute malnutrition: Following the July 2022 IPC AMN analysis, nutrition surveillance data from the NDMA indicates that the prevalence of acute malnutrition is increasing, evidenced by a higher than typical or increasing proportion of children recording a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of less than 135 mm in most pastoral and marginal agricultural livelihood zones. The decline in nutrition outcomes is being driven by a severe reduction in the quantity and quality of food consumed, including low to no milk consumption. High morbidity levels are also aggravating the prevalence of acute malnutrition, with Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Turkana West, and Turkana Central likely in Critical (global acute malnutrition (GAM) weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) 15 to 29.9 percent), while the prevalence of Extremely Critical (GAM WHZ > 30 percent) acute malnutrition is likely in Marsabit and in Turkana North and Turkana South sub-counties.

In the marginal agricultural areas, the proportion of children under five years old with a MUAC of less than 135 mm is negligible in Embu, and 20 to 88 percent below the five-year average in most areas. However, in Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka) and Meru (Meru North) the proportion of children with a MUAC of less than 135 mm is 13 to 46 percent above average, indicating that an increasing number of children are not accessing enough nutritious food.                         

Current Food Security Outcomes

In the pastoral areas, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely ongoing in Mandera, Marsabit, and Isiolo, supported by ongoing cash transfers and humanitarian assistance. However, in Turkana and Marsabit, poor purchasing power, low livestock productivity, low household income, and high malnutrition rates are driving area-level Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes despite ongoing cash transfers. In October, pastoral households are entering the October to December short rains season; however, the protracted drought and progressive depletion of forage and water resources over the past four seasons have resulted in significantly low livestock productivity and sale values, which are reducing household access to food and milk. The loss of livestock-related food and income and significantly above-average prices of dietary staples such as maize are resulting in moderate to large food consumption gaps and elevated acute malnutrition levels. This is reflected in the increasing percentage of households in NDMA sentinel sites that are reporting food consumption scores (FCS) indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In October, up to 50 percent of households reported an FCS indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while up to 40 percent of households reported an FCS indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4).  Poor livestock body conditions, declining herd sizes, and low livestock birth and conception rates mean most poor pastoralists in northwestern, northern, and northeastern pastoral livelihood zones face increasing difficulty selling their livestock for income to purchase food. Many households have turned to selling bush products, seeking employment in towns and villages, soliciting social support from their community or relatives, and relying on government safety nets and humanitarian assistance, but this is inadequate to substantially ameliorate food consumption gaps, especially given low consumer demand and high labor supply due to the economic impacts of drought.

In the marginal areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely in Meru (Meru North), Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Kitui, and most of Makueni, driven by limited access to income and high food prices, which are constraining household purchasing power, along with limited food stocks following large crop losses in the March to May long rains season. However, across the rest of the marginal agricultural areas, slightly lower maize prices and higher food stocks following the long rains are supporting Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. The October to December short rains account for nearly 70 percent of total annual food production in the marginal agricultural areas. Most households have been engaging in land preparation since September; however, the delayed onset of the short rains is delaying planting and limiting agricultural wage labor opportunities to earn income. Instead, households are increasingly relying on income from charcoal and firewood sales, remittances, and non-farm related casual waged labor opportunities to earn income. 

Assumptions

The most likely scenario from October 2022 to May 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • International, regional, and national forecasts indicate that there is a high likelihood of below-average rainfall (< 60 percent of average) during the October to December short rains season across northern and eastern Kenya.  Additionally, historical analogs of waning La Nina events indicate that the March to May 2023 long rains will likely also be below average.
  • The continuation of the drought into 2023 is expected to result in another below-average harvest in marginal agricultural areas and the further deterioration of already below-average pasture and water resources in pastoral areas, making pastoral livelihoods increasingly unviable. 
  • The long rains unimodal crop harvest from western Kenya and the Rift Valley is expected to be 10 to 15 percent below average following dry spells at the early crop developmental stages, damage from Fall and African armyworm infestations, and lower than normal planted areas following high fuel and fertilizer prices. In the marginal agricultural areas, forecasted below-average October to December short rains and high fuel and seed prices are expected to constrain crop production activities and result in at least 10 to 50 percent below-average crop production in February 2023. 
  • The below-average October to December short rains and March to May long rains will drive below-average regeneration of forage and water resources, which will deteriorate rapidly and remain significantly below average throughout the scenario period. Below-average vegetation and access to water will keep return trekking distances to water sources for domestic use and for livestock significantly above average levels and drive increased atypical migration through May 2023.
  • Livestock migration is expected to remain atypically high through May 2023. At least 60 percent of livestock herds are expected to remain in the dry-season grazing lands and further along atypical migration routes. Increased migration is expected to limit household milk availability and increase incidences of livestock diseases and resource-based and intertribal conflicts, likely resulting in livestock deaths, disruption of livelihoods, loss of property, and human fatalities.
  • According to FEWS NET integrated price projections, wholesale maize prices in the Nairobi market will begin declining in October, driven by increased maize supply from the local unimodal harvests and cross-border imports. However, despite the available supplies, the impacts of inflation, high fuel and fertilizer prices, high demand caused by the ongoing drought, and below-average upcoming rainfall seasons will keep maize prices above the five-year average and 2021 prices.
  • Wholesale bean prices in the Nairobi urban market are expected to begin declining in October, driven by incoming local and cross-border supplies, but prices will remain high due to inflation, drought, high fuel prices, below-average rainfall, and likely below-average harvests. Prices will likely follow seasonal trends but remain 20 to 30 percent above the five-year average throughout the scenario period.
  • Ongoing safety nets such as cash transfers to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT), and Persons with Severe Disability – Cash Transfer (PWSD – CT) are expected to continue throughout the scenario period, providing approximately one million targeted households across Kenya with 2,000 KES each month. In the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, the HSNP will likely continue disbursing 2,700 KES each month to at least 100,000 households. Approximately 175,000 households under the SFSP will continue to receive assistance equivalent to at least 30 to 50 percent of a 2,100-kilocalorie monthly ration through food commodities and cash-based transfers. WFP is also expected to continue providing humanitarian assistance (cash and food commodities), targeting at least 79,280 food-insecure households in Turkana, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, and Marsabit (Priority 1), and Tana River, Baringo, Kitui, Kwale, and Kilifi (Priority 2), with beneficiaries in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) receiving an equivalent of 50 percent of a full monthly ration through January 2023.
  • The scaling up of humanitarian assistance, including for food, health, and nutrition services, will mitigate a severe deterioration in nutrition outcomes. Overall, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is likely to be Critical (GAM 15–29.9 percent) through May 2023 in Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Samburu, Turkana, and Tana River counties, North Horr and Laisamis sub-counties in Marsabit, and Tiaty sub-county in Baringo County.  However, the prevalence of Extremely Critical (GAM ≥ 30 percent) acute malnutrition is likely to persist in parts of Turkana (Turkana North and South sub-counties) and Marsabit (Laisamis and North Horr sub-counties) from October 2022 to February 2022 period, after which improved food access during the long rains in 2023 is likely to improve nutrition outcomes to Critical levels (GAM 15–29.9 percent). In the other counties, the prevalence of atypically elevated Alert (GAM 5–9.9 percent) to Serious (GAM 10–14.9 percent) acute malnutrition is likely to persist through the scenario period. Chronic factors including poor infant and young child feeding practices, health seeking behavior, low literacy levels, poor infrastructure, and poverty that hinder recovery from the recurrent shocks will contribute to poor nutrition outcomes. These chronic factors are likely to worsen as households cope with reduced food access.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

In pastoral areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will prevail across most of the pastoral areas; however, in Mandera, Wajir and Isiolo, ongoing humanitarian assistance to at least 20 percent of the populations through January 2023 will support Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. However, in Turkana and Marsabit, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are expected to prevail despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, driven by low livestock productivity, low household income and purchasing power, and the prevalence of high levels of acute malnutrition. Without additional planned and funded humanitarian assistance from February to May 2023, the drought will lead to significant reductions in household food and income sources, erode resilience and coping capacity, and elevate acute malnutrition and mortality levels. However, given normal humanitarian access and government capacity for safety nets, the likelihood of a scenario in which no food assistance reaches the drought-affected population is currently still considered low. Nevertheless, rising acute malnutrition is of particular concern in Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, and Samburu, where high levels of Critical (GAM WHZ 15–29.9 percent) acute malnutrition are already expected to be present. It must be emphasized that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes – associated with increased acute malnutrition and mortality – are still extremely concerning.

The below-average October to December short rains are likely to result in limited forage regeneration, keeping livestock in the dry-season grazing areas away from homesteads, continuing to limit milk availability for households. High staple food prices and low livestock prices will continue to reduce household food access and income. Households will likely seek additional income from non-livestock related sources such as non-agricultural wage labor, safety nets, remittances, and charcoal and firewood sales, where opportunities and income generation are likely to be constrained by increased competition and inflation. However, the subsequent dry season from January to March is expected to erode water resources and reduce pasture and browse availability. Consequently, it will be difficult for poor pastoral households to access food and water for both their livestock and their families. Many pastoralists will face difficult coping decisions, such as selling off their livestock at lower values, migrating longer distances that risk further weakening their livestock, or culling young livestock to preserve the health of mothers. Household purchasing capacity is expected to be lowest and excess livestock mortality is expected to be highest in areas where herd sizes are already low. In late March, the start of the likely below-average March to May long rains will result in short-term improvements to forage and water resources; however, this will likely be insufficient to bring livestock back to the wet-season grazing areas. Slight improvements in livestock body conditions will improve sale values, but livestock prices are expected to remain well below average. Staple food prices will likely remain above the five-year average and, together with the below average livestock prices, will keep household food access and consumption below average through May. Households will likely continue applying consumption-based coping strategies such as reducing the number of meals and portion sizes and sending children to eat elsewhere, as well as livelihood-based coping strategies that include withdrawing children from school, reducing expenditures on healthcare, selling last female animals, and dropping out of pastoralism to destitution (begging) indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

In the marginal areas, between October 2022 and January 2023, household dependency on market purchases is expected to remain atypically high following the depletion of food stocks from the below-average long rains harvest. Household food access will be limited by below-average incomes and above-average staple food prices. From October, income from agricultural wage labor opportunities such as cropping activities for the short rains agricultural season will likely be below average due to below-average rainfall and limited access to agricultural inputs. Income from other non-agricultural related sources such as casual labor, charcoal and firewood sales, and remittances will likely be limited by environmental degradation, increased competition, and the constrained economy. Limited income, coupled with high food prices, will result in reduced food availability and consumption, driving an increasing number of households to employ livelihood and consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for the worse-off households. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will prevail across most of the marginal areas. However, in Meru (Meru North), Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Kitui, and Makueni, at least one in five households will marginally meet minimum food needs but only through crisis-coping strategies and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

From late February, the anticipated below-average short rains production will stabilize household food availability and consumption through March. Staple food prices are expected to remain at above-average levels with reduced demand driving slight price declines between February and March. Household incomes from crop sales from the short rains harvest will likely be limited by a below-average harvest. Relatedly, agricultural waged labor opportunities for the March to May long rains will also likely be below average due to farmers having limited access to seed following multiple below-average harvests, and high fuel and input prices. Faced with low household food availability, reduced incomes, and limited purchasing power due to above-average staple food prices, most of the marginal agricultural areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2); however, in Meru (Meru North), Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Kitui, and Makueni, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will prevail.

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 outcomes
National Significantly below-average short rains crop harvest from the marginal agricultural areas  A significantly below-average short rains crop harvest will result in staple food deficits, likely raising staple food prices and reducing household food access. A significant number of marginal agricultural and pastoral households will likely deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity.  
National Change in current government safety net and humanitarian food assistance plans FEWS NET currently assesses that the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Kenya is low, based on available food assistance plans and given that humanitarian access and government capacity for safety nets are expected to remain normal during the outlook period. Both regular safety nets and emergency assistance would need to be minimal or completely absent to lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5), with particular concern for Turkana and Marsabit where acute malnutrition levels are already high. Otherwise, significant delays or interruptions in assistance would likely lead to an increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), as well as some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).  
Northwestern, northern, and northeastern pastoral livelihood zones Average to above-average 2023 March to May long rains  If rainfall is cumulatively average to above average, the subsequent improvements rangeland resource availability would prompt pastoral and livestock migration into normal wet-season grazing areas closer to homesteads and drive improvements in body conditions and productivity, improving household milk availability. Households are likely to minimize livestock sales to improve their herd sizes, resulting in higher livestock prices. Although staple food prices would likely remain above average, an increase in household incomes would partially improve household purchasing power. Overall, improvement from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would be expected between February and May in pastoral areas; however, a subset of households with few remaining livestock and assets would likely continue to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

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.

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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