Skip to main content

El Niño-driven short rains expected to drive recovery from historic drought

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Kenya
  • October 2023 - May 2024
El Niño-driven short rains expected to drive recovery from historic drought

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern Northern and Northwestern Pastoral livelihood zones (Figure 5)
  • Area of Concern: Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone (Figure 7)
  • Partners
    Kenya - NDMA
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • Global climate forecasts indicate that the ongoing moderate to strong El Niño is likely to continue into early 2024. There is an 80 percent likelihood that El Niño will remain the dominant ENSO state during the 2024 March to May long rains. Based on the high likelihood of a strong El Niño and positive IOD conditions in late 2023, the October to December 2023 short rain season in northern and eastern Kenya is expected to be above average, with an over 70 percent probability that rainfall will be in the highest 20 percent of climatology in eastern Kenya. Flooding is likely to occur in northern and eastern Kenya, associated with the high likelihood of significant rainfall during the short rains season, especially from November through early 2024.
    • In October, Marsabit and Turkana are facing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes as humanitarian assistance programs conclude, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across northern and eastern pastoral Kenya as poor households recover from the historic drought. From October to January, the above-average short rains and average livestock births are expected to slowly improve household access to milk, an important source of food and income, but Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to continue, but increased access to food and income is expected to lower acute malnutrition rates. From February to May, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected as pastoral households return to normally accessing staple foods, but the high cost of living will limit household access to non-food needs.
    • In the marginal agricultural areas, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through January as households recover from a below-average long rains harvest. While the expected above-average October to December short rains are likely to increase cropped areas and agricultural labor opportunities, the high cost of staple foods and non-food needs is likely to keep households relying on income from off-own farm income activities to meet their food needs in addition to paying off past debts. Between February and May 2024, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to emerge driven by the expected above-average short rains harvests and access to income from crop sales and agricultural labor opportunities during the March to May long rains season except in Kitui and Makueni where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to persist.
    • With the expected above-average long rains production, Kenya's maize deficit is expected to reduce to 118,000 metric tonnes compared to 300,000 metric tonnes last year. However, this deficit will maintain a high demand for maize that highly-priced cross-border imports will likely meet. FEWS NET price projections indicate that maize prices are likely to be above the five-year average but lower than 2022/2023 prices. However, bean prices are projected to be higher than the five-year averages and prices last year, driven by high production, fuel, and transportation costs and the depreciation of the KES. 

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Rainfall Performance:  From September to late October, rainfall has been largely average to over 200 percent of the 40-year average across most of the country (Figure 1). However, there are localized areas in southern Kenya where rainfall is less than 90 percent of the long-term average. There was largely a timely start in September in western Kenya. In the pastoral areas, an effective start to the October to December short rains started 10 days earlier than normal to on time in mid-to-late October, while an effective onset is yet to start in most marginal agricultural areas. However, high temperatures in August and September drove a deterioration in vegetation conditions, which is reflected in a decline in NDVI and water availability across the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas (Figure 2). However, vegetation conditions are improving in areas where the rainy season has effectively started. 

    Figure 1

    CHIRPS Season precipitation percent of the 1981-2020 average, September 1- October 31, 2023.
    Rainfall in October is well above-average across much of Kenya, particularly western, central, northern, and eastern Kenya.

    Source: USGS/ FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    eVIIRS NDVI percent of 2012- 2021 Mean, October 21–31, 2023
    Vegetation conditions are below-average after the July to September dry season but they are improving in areas that have received rainfall.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    In late October, some parts of Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, and Turkana experienced heavy rains and flash floods that flooded homes and rendered roads impassable. In Marsabit, there were two human casualties from drowning, and at least 120 households were displaced in the LogLogo area. 

    Crop production: The long rains harvest was completed in the low altitude counties in the Western, Nyanza, lower Eastern, and Coastal regions. Harvesting is ongoing in the North and Central Rift regions, Central, high-altitude counties in Western and Nyanza (Bungoma, parts of Kakamega, Kisii, Nyamira), and parts of Taita Taveta. However, there is concern that forecast above-average October to December short rains will disrupt the crop drying in the sun due to a shortage of dryers. To mitigate the shortage of driers and potentially high post-harvest losses during the season, the Ministry of Agriculture intends to procure 100-grain dryers for 15 main maize-growing counties of Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Bungoma, Kakamega, West Pokot, Narok, Kericho, Migori, Bomet, Baringo, Nyandarua and Laikipia under phase one of the grain drying for sustainable post-harvest management project. The remaining counties will be covered in Phase II of the project. According to reports by the Ministry of Agriculture, the 2023 long rains maize harvest is estimated to be about 3.34 million metric tonnes (MMT), around 5 to 10 percent higher than the five-year average, supported by above-average March to May long rains and about over 3.5 million 50-kilogram bags of subsidized fertilizer distributed by the government to support farmers in 41 counties. Bean production for the long rains season was about 0.85 MMT and 60 percent above the five-year average, driven by adequate rains and subsidized fertilizer.  

    Distribution of the government-subsidized fertilizer for the 2023 short rains began in August, with 940,3000 bags of assorted fertilizers distributed by the end of September across 35 counties targeting maize, potato, vegetables, beans, coffee, cotton, wheat, and rice farmers. Short rains crop production started early in October in Western and Nyanza regions following an effective start to the rainy season, and crops are in the planting to weeding stages in parts of Kisii, Vihiga, Busia, Bungoma, and Migori, where over 20 percent of the short rains crop has been planted. 

    In the marginal agricultural areas, the short rains season accounts for nearly 70 percent of annual food production. Typical crops planted include maize, millet, sorghum, beans, green grams, cow peas, and pigeon peas. Land preparation and planting for the short rains season are ongoing, with households slowly expanding the area under food crops, supported by the forecast above-average short rains and the government's reduction of fertilizer prices from 3,200 KES per 50 kg bag (~21.00 USD) to 2,500 KES per 50-kg bag (16.57 USD), and easing farmer access to credit by increasing the Agriculture Finance Corporation's (AFC) budget from 2 billion KES to 10 billion KES (~66.14 million USD). In the Coastal marginal agricultural areas of Kilifi and Kwale, households are also finalizing harvesting of the long rains crops while preparing land for the short rains season.

    Livestock milk production: Livestock in the pastoral areas remain in typical wet season grazing areas within the counties, providing milk for consumption and sale. According to September NDMA sentinel site data, milk production ranged from 1 to 1.6 liters per household per day except in Samburu, which was 0.1 liters per household per day. Milk production remains 13 to 92 percent below the five-year averages in Samburu, Garissa, and Marsabit but is 8 to 33 percent above the five-year average across the rest of the counties. In September, household milk consumption trends are mixed but largely remain stable or are increasing in most pastoral areas as livestock births slowly improve household milk production and consumption.

    Domestic water availability declined seasonally in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas during the June to September dry season. However, most CHIRPS-monitored water points across the pastoral areas are classified as Good, with water levels greater than the long-term median water level at the start of the short rains. In September, NDMA sentinel site bulletins indicate that the main water sources in use across the pastoral areas are water pans, boreholes, traditional river wells, and shallow wells, reporting seasonal declines in water levels over the dry period despite relatively better availability compared to recent seasons. In September, return trekking distances to domestic water sources were mostly stable or rising, ranging from 2.8 to 8.5 kilometers. Compared to the three-year average, trekking distances are similar in Wajir, Garissa, and Turkana and 8 to 48 percent shorter than the three-year average across the rest of the pastoral areas. The seasonal increase in distances continues to increase the time and effort involved by households to obtain water, reducing the time available to engage in other livelihood activities.

    The main water sources for both livestock and domestic use in the marginal agricultural areas are traditional river wells, water pans and dams, roof water catchments, shallow wells springs, and rock catchments, which are typical sources now. However, in the Southeast, where the 2023 March to May long rains were below average, most open water sources are at 25 to 40 percent capacity, while in the Coastal Marginal Agricultural areas of Taita Taveta, most open water sources are dry. Household return trekking distances have increased to average levels, ranging between 3 km to 7 km, except in Taita Taveta, where return trekking distances have increased to 5 km compared to the three-year average of 3 km. The increasing distances to water sources lead to greater time and effort that households must invest in this activity at the expense of other livelihood activities. 

    Forage and pasture: The satellite-derived eVIIRS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) indicates vegetation greenness ranges from 60 to 90 percent of the 2012-2021 average across the pastoral and marginal area with parts of the coastal marginal areas, northern, northwest, northeast, and eastern pastoral areas with vegetation greenness of less than 60 percent of the ten-year average (Figure 2). However, vegetation greenness is over 105 percent of the 10-year average in central, western, and southwest, Lamu County, the coastal strip, and localized parts of the pastoral areas in Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa. As forage and water resources replenish, the return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources for livestock are expected to decline. Improving forage and water resources is shortening return trekking distances reducing the effort for households and livestock to access these resources. 

    Livestock body conditions and production declined seasonally during the July to September dry season but slowly improved with the start of the October to December short rains. Livestock are in the wet season grazing areas and remain fairly productive. Livestock body condition ranges from fair to good for all species, but livestock are in good to very good condition in Marsabit and Wajir, driven by available water and forage resources.

    Across most of the pastoral areas, livestock mortality remains within normal levels, and apart from occurrences of endemic diseases, no disease outbreaks were reported. However, an outbreak of sheep and goat pox was reported in much of Garissa, while in Marsabit, an outbreak of Camel's disease characterized by a swollen head and deaths has been reported in North Horr, Elgade, and Kalacha areas of North Horr Sub-county. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development recently issued a Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak alert for the above-average October 2023 to January 2024 rainfall season, and county governments are putting RVF preparedness plans in place through their relevant livestock departments.

    Across the pastoral areas, migration is mostly typical, with livestock remaining within their respective counties and following the normal routes at this time of the year. However, in Turkana, insecurity and livestock diseases are constraining typical migration patterns in Merikuka, Natete, Kaitede, Kokuro, Todonyang, Loruth, and Nakitong'o areas, while in Marsabit, heightened insecurity is constraining typical livestock movements in the Dukana area along the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

    Markets and trade: Maize prices across the country remain elevated due to low local availability, high production and marketing costs, and highly priced cross-border imports. In September, wholesale maize prices across major urban reference markets remained around 30 to 60 percent above the five-year average (Figure 3). In the retail markets across pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, maize prices ranged from 64 to 102 KES per kilogram and were 14 to 75 percent above the five-year averages, but prices in Nyeri (Kieni) were double the five-year average. Bean prices remain affected by similar drivers affecting maize prices and are following seasonal trends, with prices higher than last year. In September, dry bean wholesale prices in the urban reference markets were 13,950 to 17,200 KES per 90-kilogram bag and are around 50 to almost 120 percent above the five-year average. In the marginal agricultural areas, retail maize prices range from 150 to 174 KES per kilogram. In comparison, prices in Nyeri (Kieni) are 109 KES and 16 percent above the five-year average due to relatively better availability from nearby higher-producing areas. The above-average staple food prices continue limiting household food access by impacting purchasing power. 

    Figure 3

    Wholesale maize prices in Nairobi market compared to 2022 and the five-year average
    Maize prices in September 2023 are lower than last year but remain higher than the five-year average.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA

    Livestock prices: Livestock body conditions remain average to above average due to the positive impact of the 2023 long rains season, helping drive above-average prices across the pastoral areas. A medium-sized two-year-old goat retails for 3,280 to 6,715 KES, around 15 to 80 percent above the five-year average. However, despite the above-average goat prices, the goat-to-maize terms-of-trade, a proxy for household purchasing power, remain mixed due to the high maize prices. The terms of trade in September were similar to the five-year average in Garissa and Isiolo, around 15 to 45 percent higher than the five-year average in Tana River and Mandera and around 10 to 15 percent lower than the five-year average across the rest of the pastoral areas. Households can purchase around 33 to 83 kilograms of maize per goat sold, enough to meet the minimum kilocalorie equivalent to feed a family of six for eight to 23 days (Figure 4). The high maize prices and low herd sizes continue limiting household food access, although the good livestock prices are helping households increase their access to staple foods. 

    Figure 4

    Goat-to-maize terms-of-trade in pastoral markets, September 2023
    Goat-to-maize terms of trade are improving but remain lower than the five-year average in most markets.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA

    Household incomes: In the pastoral areas, most households remain engaged in livestock-related income activities following recent improvements in livestock body conditions and sale values. However, households also earn off-own farm income to meet their food and non-food needs. According to key informant data collected through telephone interviews, from July to August 2023, households are engaging in livestock herding, small business and petty trade, firewood/charcoal sales, and charcoal labor to earn income primarily for food purchases, while a lesser portion is used on education and agricultural inputs. Overall, livestock herding labor is the major source of income. Households reportedly earn 3,000-7,100 KES per month (~20-47 USD), similar to a typical year. For pastoral households engaged in small business and petty trade, around half are reporting below-average ability to engage in small business and trade due to the high cost of living, the rise in commodity prices, and lower demand, while at least half of the households reported no change in availability of petty trade opportunities. Firewood and charcoal production opportunities were reported to be above average, matching the high demand driven by closed borders. However, earnings are normal due to the high demand for firewood amid high fuel and cooking gas prices. Charcoal labor was reported to be a major source of income for poor households in Marsabit, with poor households earning 8,000 – 23,000 KES per month (~53-152 USD/month), but labor opportunities are reported to have reduced compared to normal.   

     In the marginal agricultural areas, household incomes from agricultural waged labor opportunities gradually improve to near-average levels as households expand the area planted to food crops. However, households increasingly rely on off-own farm income activities to improve their purchasing power following below-average income from crop sales during the 2023 March to May long rains and a high demand for farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizers for the upcoming October to December short rains. According to the key informant's telephone interviews, most households in the Southeast engaged in construction, domestic labor, and livestock herding opportunities from July to September to earn income, while others were engaged in off-season agricultural labor and selling charcoal and firewood. In the Coastal Marginal agricultural areas, most households were engaged in charcoal sales, domestic labor, and small businesses and trade, with some households also engaging in firewood sales and livestock herding. Following the earlier-than-normal depletion of the household food stocks from the below-average long rains harvest in the Southeast and Coastal marginal agricultural areas of Taita Taveta, household dependence on markets is atypically high. However, the below-average incomes and competing demands for seeds and other inputs limit household purchasing power and food access.

    Interannual and emergency food assistance: In anticipation of the El Niño enhanced rains, the National and County governments and humanitarian agencies are implementing strategic action plans to mitigate impacts, including emergency assistance for affected households. Phase II of WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme that has been providing cash transfers and food rations equivalent to 75 percent of monthly food needs to around 940,300 food insecure beneficiaries in 12 arid and semi-arid counties is set to cease at the end of October 2023. Ongoing safety net programmes such as OVC, OPCT, and PWSD – CT provide at least 2,000 KES (~13 USD) monthly to approximately one million targeted households. The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) continues to provide 5,400 KES (~36 USD) every two months to at least 100,000 households in the four pastoral counties of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, and Wajir, along with about 25,000 households from Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River and Samburu counties. Under WFP's Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP), approximately 175,000 households continue to receive assistance equivalent to at least 30 to 50 percent of their kilocalorie needs.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In October, pastoral households are slowly recovering from the historic drought, with area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes still present in pastoral livelihood zones. However, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely in Turkana and Marsabit counties, with households continuing to be supported by ongoing emergency humanitarian assistance consisting of cash transfers and in-kind food distributions. Household food and income remain below average due to still-recovering livestock productivity and high staple food prices. According to NDMA sentinel site data, the food consumption score (FCS) across the pastoral areas was mostly stable or deteriorating and indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, with over 20 percent of households in Mandera, Turkana, and Garissa counties recording a poor FCS, driven by low milk consumption, dietary diversity, and meal frequency. NDMA sentinel site nutrition surveillance data in September indicates the proportion of children under the age of five that recorded a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of less than 135mm was 21-33 percent below the five-year average in Isiolo, Wajir, and Samburu within the five-year average in Marsabit and Garissa, and around 10 to 15 percent above the five-year average in Turkana and Mandera due to below average food and milk consumption. The trends in the prevalence of acute malnutrition were mostly stable or declining, except in Garissa, where there was a reduction in milk consumption. Across the pastoral areas, households are applying consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) apart from Mandera, where the strategies applied are indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including sending family members to eat elsewhere, reducing adult food portions in favor of children, and reducing the size and frequency of daily meals. 

    In marginal agricultural areas, high staple food prices and below-average incomes limit household access to their non-food needs, driving area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, with the most affected households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In October, poor households increasingly earn income from agricultural labor opportunities as better-off households look to expand the area planted ahead of the forecast above-average October to December short rains. According to NDMA September bulletins, over 20 percent of households recorded a borderline FCS, but most sentinel sites had less than 10 percent of households record a poor FCS score. Due to the earlier-than-normal depletion of food stocks and limited purchasing capacities that are lowering food access, households are engaging in consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2), such as relying on less preferred or less expensive food, reducing the portion size of meals, and reducing the number of meals eaten per day. Households also employ livelihood coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2), such as purchasing food on credit and borrowing money.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for Kenya

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • The long rains maize harvest is expected to be 5 to 10 percent above the five-year average supported by government-subsidized fertilizer and the mostly near-average 2023 long rains.
    • The October to December short rains in northern and eastern bimodal Kenya will likely begin in early October and be cumulatively above average, supported by a strong El Niño event. There is a notably elevated probability (60-90 percent) of rainfall being in the highest 20 percent of climatology in eastern Kenya. 
    • Given limited available forecasts and the absence of a strong tilt in the odds toward any tercile of precipitation, the March-May 2024 long rains in northern and eastern Kenya are currently assumed to be average. However, there is uncertainty given the long-range nature of the forecast and the fact that WMO and NMME forecasts indicate an elevated probability of above-average rainfall in parts of the region in March and April.
    • Above-average temperatures are most likely through at least May 2024. 
    • The 2023 October to December short rains are expected to result in flooding in the flood-prone parts of Turkana, Busia, Kisumu, Migori, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Tana River, Kilifi, Kajiado, Taita Taveta, and Kwale counties, particularly as the rainy season peaks in November. The flooding will likely result in the loss of human life, loss of livestock, displacement of households, and destruction of cropland, property, and essential infrastructure such as roads, markets, and hospitals. In the affected areas, disruption of essential services and utilities such as school activities, medical services, electricity, water supply, transport services, and market operations will likely occur in November and December.
    • In the marginal agricultural areas, the forecast of above-average rainfall during the October to December short rains is expected to increase the area planted for food crops. The resultant harvest of short-cycle crops and maize from December 2023 to February 2024 is expected to be average to above average. However, the above-average rainfall and water logging will likely negatively impact the bean harvest. 
    • The Desert Locust situation is relatively calm, although some adult groups and a few swarms in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Yemen may find their way to Kenya from late October to early November, driven southward by winds during the October to December short rains. The presence of forage and germinated crop may fuel their breeding and increase in numbers; however, early anticipation and preparedness are likely to mitigate their impacts during the early stages of the infestations. Following a few African and Fall Armyworm infestations during the March to May long rains season, the infestations are likely to reoccur during the short rains. However, these will likely be mitigated by the above-average rains that reduce their numbers during their larval stages. 
    • According to FEWS NET price projections, wholesale maize prices in Nairobi will likely be 10 to 30 percent above the five-year average but remain lower than 2022/2023. The high prices are likely to be driven by high production, fuel, and transportation costs and the depreciation of the KES despite expected above-average production. Relatedly, dry bean wholesale prices are projected to be around 45 to 60 percent above the five-year averages and prices in 2022/2023. 
    • Throughout the scenario period, households in cropping areas, including the marginal agricultural areas, will likely earn above-average incomes from agricultural waged labor opportunities and crop sales. The demand for labor during cropping activities and crop harvests is expected to be above average during the short and long rains seasons. 
    • The forecast above average October to December short rains and March to May long rains are expected to regenerate forage, pasture, and water resources to above-average levels throughout the scenario period. It is likely that return trekking distances to water sources for humans and livestock will remain atypically low. Livestock are not expected to migrate far in search of pasture and water. The close proximity to the homesteads is likely to maintain household access to milk.
    • From early to mid-November, livestock productivity (milk production and sale value) is expected to significantly increase to above-average levels supported by available forage, pasture, and water resources. Household income of livestock owners, especially in the pastoral areas, is expected to rise to above-average levels with an increase in livestock and milk sales and is expected to remain so throughout the scenario period. 
    • Conception rates for all livestock are expected to be average to above average during the 2023 October to December short rains and during the 2024 March to May long rains. In November, sheep and goat birth rates are expected to be above average, while cattle birth rates are expected to be near average following improved conception rates over the 2023 March to May long rains period. The improvement in birth rates is expected to improve herd sizes and household milk access during the period. In April, goat birth rates will likely be average to above average following similar conception rates during the previous short rains season, improving herd sizes and milk availability. However, it will likely take pastoralist households at least a few years to recover their herd sizes to pre-drought levels. 
    • The likely flooding caused by the above-average short rains is expected to result in an outbreak and spread of the vector-borne viral zoonotic Rift Valley Fever (RVF) towards the end of the short rains in Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Samburu, Isiolo, Tana River, Kitui, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, and Kajiado. The outbreak of RVF is likely to result in quarantines in affected areas, including bans on the sale or movement of livestock to curb its spread. Livestock and human deaths are likely where adequate disease surveillance, prevention, and control measures are not carried out due to funding or logistical constraints. 
    • Historically high fuel prices are expected to drive increases in the cost of transportation and production. The high fuel prices are likely to be passed onto the consumer through increases in staple food prices, reducing household purchasing power across the country. 
    • Insecurity driven by Al Shabaab activities in northern and northeastern Kenya, particularly parts of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, and Lamu counties bordering Somalia, is likely to persist at high levels throughout the scenario period. This will likely involve sporadic attacks on towns, destruction of communication masts, and attacks along major transportation corridors. 
    • Phase II of WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme provides rations equivalent to 75 percent of a monthly food needs through cash and food commodities to around 940,300 beneficiaries in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Turkana, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, and Tana River, Baringo, Kitui, Kwale, and Kilifi is set to stop at the end of October 2023. 
    • With the forecasted El Niño rains and expected impact on various sectors like health, infrastructure, agriculture, livestock, education, water, and energy, the government, through the relevant ministries and departments, has embarked on mapping out flood-prone areas and increasing public awareness on the expected impacts with further plans on impact mitigation expected. The National and county governments where flood-prone areas are located are expected to implement El Niño preparedness programs to mitigate and respond accordingly. Non-government agencies are expected to put together strategic action plans, including relevant funding appeals for humanitarian assistance to fund these actions that are expected to mitigate the negative impacts in the affected areas. 

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    From October to December, the above-average short rains are expected to drive the rejuvenation of pasture, forage, and water resources, improving livestock body conditions and production. Increased access to milk will support household access to an important source of income for pastoral households as WFP's Lisha Jamii Programme concludes in October. However, heavy rainfall is likely to cause floods in flood-prone areas, leading to displacements and damaging cropland, property, and infrastructure while constraining livelihood activities. In November, increased livestock births for small stock and cattle will return milk production to at least average levels and improve herd sizes significantly. Household access to income will likely return to normal levels as livestock body conditions and milk production improve through the short rains. However, high staple prices will likely still constrain household food access to staple foods, and poor households are likely to continue to apply livelihood and consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the most affected areas for most of this period. Acute malnutrition levels are expected to remain high at Critical (GAM 15 to 29.9 percent) levels as households slowly recover from the previous poor seasons and atypically high morbidity due to the above-average long rains that may reduce food availability and access. As households slowly recover their typical food and income access levels, at least 20 percent of the population is likely to face food consumption gaps and be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the areas worst affected by the historic drought, while other pastoral areas will likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).  

    From February to May, the atypically above-average water and forage resources will mitigate the seasonal February to mid-March dry conditions, and livestock will likely remain in the wet season grazing areas, providing households with milk access for consumption. The forecast above-average March to May long rains are expected to sustain above-average livestock production, providing households with likely average to above-average household income from milk and livestock sales. Occurrences and outbreaks of RVF are likely to occur in the northern, northeastern, and eastern pastoral areas with the increased trade and consumption of livestock and livestock products. In the most affected areas, human and livestock deaths and quarantines will likely constrain household access to livestock-related food and incomes until prevention and control measures take effect. Staple food prices are likely to remain above average; however, increasingly above-average livestock prices are expected to translate to above-average goat-to-maize terms of trade and above-average household food access. The increased food access will increase food and milk consumption, and households will likely consume two to three meals daily with increased dietary diversity. Most households are expected to have Acceptable FCS, with only a small proportion of households applying livelihood and consumption–based coping strategies, mostly indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Acute malnutrition levels are expected to decline but remain elevated due to the cumulative impact of the historic drought and high seasonal morbidity levels, including increased malaria and diarrhea cases during the rainy season. Additionally, chronic factors are expected to slow improvements in nutrition outcomes, likely sustaining Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) levels through the May 2024 period in Wajir, Mandera, Samburu, Turkana counties, and in North Horr and Laisamis sub-counties in Marsabit, and Tiaty Sub County in Baringo County. Overall, most poor households are expected to be able to meet their food needs, but at least 20 percent will be unable to afford non-food needs, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across the pastoral areas. 

    In the marginal agricultural areas, between October and January 2024, the expected good crop performance and increased area under food crops will increase the demand for agricultural waged labor opportunities during planting, spraying, and weeding, gradually improving household incomes to average levels. While households are expected to continue relying heavily on markets through December, household purchasing power and food access will continue to be limited by the likely above-average staple food prices and a decline in off-own farm income sources such as the sale of firewood and charcoal, which is typically limited during the rainy seasons. The expected good crop production will increase the availability of green harvests of cereals and pulses from mid to late December through January. Consequently, household reliance on markets is expected to decline gradually in December and January. Household milk availability and consumption are expected to improve significantly with the start of calving and kidding around November, improving household dietary diversity. Although the severity of acute food insecurity is expected to gradually decline with the anticipated improvements in income, access to food, and dietary diversity, at least one in five households will have minimally adequate food consumption but be unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures without engaging in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    From February to May 2024, household food availability will continue to improve significantly following the expected above-average short rain harvest, reverting market reliance to normal levels. However, substitutes such as cowpeas and green grams will likely meet market demand for pulses, as excess moisture will likely result in a below-average bean harvest. Throughout the scenario period, households are expected to earn average to above average incomes from crop sales following the above-average short rains production. At the same time, incomes from agricultural waged labor opportunities are likely to be above average due to the high demand for labor during short rains harvest and land preparation, planting, and weeding for the March to May long rains season. With improvements in typical income sources, purchasing power, and food access, households will likely minimize their reliance on off-own farm incomes throughout the scenario period. Household milk availability and consumption will be high, improving household dietary diversity. Consequently, with improved household food availability and incomes, it is expected that most households will be able to meet essential food and non-food needs without engaging in atypical and unsustainable strategies and be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, the worst affected households will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalBelow-average October to December short rains

    Below-average October to December short rains would impact agricultural production, raise staple food prices, and reduce household food access. In the pastoral areas, it would result in partial regeneration of forage and water resources and reduce improvements in livestock productivity and sale values, limiting milk and income availability. Across Kenya, there would likely be an increase in the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    Northern Pastoral and Northwestern Pastoral Livelihood ZoneRise in incidences of conflict and insecurity

    A rise in conflict and insecurity will constrain livelihood activities, reducing household income opportunities. Cattle rustling might result in heavy livestock losses, especially for poor households, reducing their asset base. Accessing markets will likely be difficult when these incidences occur and will reduce physical access to markets and food commodities. The affected households will likely access sufficient food for their food needs and will likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with a small proportion of the most affected experiencing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.   

    Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood ZoneSignificant outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF)A significant outbreak of Rift Valley Fever or other pneumonic diseases, such as Contagious Caprine Pleural Pneumonia (CCPP), may result in unusually high mortality rates, further eroding households' asset bases. Consequently, household incomes from livestock sales are likely to decline, constricting household access to food. 
    Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood zone and Marginal agricultural livelihood zonesWidespread floodingFloods are also likely to result in outbreaks of waterborne diseases in humans, such as cholera, diarrhea, and typhoid fever, due to water contamination, further increasing the prevalence of acute malnutrition. With eroded asset bases, significantly reduced incomes, high disease burden, and limited access to healthcare, a significant proportion of poor households are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, while the worst hit would face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

     


    Areas of Concern Northern and Northwestern Pastoral livelihood zones (Figure 5)

    Figure 5

    Area of concern reference map, Northern and Northwestern Pastoral livelihood zones
    Area of concern reference map, Northern and Northwestern Pastoral livelihood zones

    Source: FEWS NET

    According to NDMA sentinel site data, most households and livestock are accessing water from water pans, boreholes, traditional river wells, and shallow wells and are expected to last at least until the start of the October to December short rains. Permanent and seasonal rivers, springs, and lakes are also being used as water sources, but to a lesser extent. Most water sources are facing accelerated declines due to high temperatures and use, with a reduction in the quality and quantity of water. In the western part of the AOC, most pans and dams, rock catchments, earth dams, and natural gorges had no water. Similarly, surface water sources have dried up in areas of Lerata, Sereolipi, Lolkuniani, Nkaroni, Naisunyai, Sessia Nairimirimo and Raraiti in the southern parts of the AOC, while the areas of Gas, Mbarambate, Qorqa, and Yalgana reported water stress in the eastern parts of the AOC. 

    The USGS Waterpoint Viewer indicates that most monitored waterpoints within the AOC are classified as "Good" and greater than the long-term median water level, while a few are seasonally dry in the western parts of the AOC, with some isolated water points with water levels below 50 percent of the median.

    In September, households, on average, had to travel 6.2 to 7.2 km to access water, compared to 7 to 7.4 km normally. In Turkana, water access is within the average, but households are traveling 8 to 15 percent further than the five-year average across the rest of the AOC. The long distances likely lead households to reduce their time participating in other livelihood activities and increase opportunities to earn income for market purchases. 

    Return trekking distances for livestock from grazing areas to water sources range from 10.2 to 15.4 km compared to 9.7 to 18 km normally. However, the distance livestock are traveling across the livelihood zone ranges from 41 percent below the five-year average in the eastern part of the zone, the average in the western part of the zone, to 15 percent above the average in the southern part of the AOC depending on pasture and water conditions. However, with the start of the short rains, trekking distances are stable or beginning to decline as surface water sources begin to replenish. 

    The forage and pasture conditions have deteriorated, driven by high land surface temperatures, especially from July through September. According to the eVIIRS NDVI data for October 21 to 31, 2023, vegetation greenness across the AOC is mostly 60 to 90 percent of the average but less than 60 percent in southern, western, and eastern parts of the AOC. The vegetation deterioration is driven by consumption by livestock and high land surface temperatures, especially from July through September. However, the start of the October to December short rains is slowly rejuvenating forage and pasture conditions. 

    According to September NDMA sentinel site data, livestock body conditions are "fair" for all species in the western part of the AOC, "fair" to "good" in the south, and "good" to "very good" in the east. Milk production ranged from 0.1 to 1.5 liters compared to a normal of 1.15 to 1.5 liters, around 30 to over 90 percent lower than the ten-year average. However, milk production is 30 percent above the average in the western parts of the livelihood zone due to moderate calving. Milk consumption mirrors milk production and ranges from 0.1 to 1.5 liters and is also around 30 to 90 percent lower than the ten-year average across the AOC, but household milk consumption is 25 percent higher than the 10-year average in the west of the AOC. In the eastern parts of the AOC, milk consumption was mostly from kidding sheep and goats and a few camels, with most households purchasing powdered milk and packet milk from retail shops to meet their dairy needs. The low milk production and almost similar milk consumption indicate little milk is available for sale, negatively impacting household access to an important source of income and food.

    In the North Horr sub-county, Marsabit, an outbreak of Camel's disease characterized by a swollen head and deaths has been reported in North Horr, Elgade, and Kalacha areas. A rabies outbreak has also been reported in Hurri Hills location. In the southern part of the AOC, there was a confirmed Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Suguta Marmar and Loosuk wards, Samburu. Migration patterns indicate that across the AOC, livestock is in the typical migration zones within the respective counties apart from areas in the eastern part of the zone, like Dukana along the Kenya-Ethiopia border, due to heightened insecurity. In the western parts of the AOC, insecurity, and livestock diseases have remained the main limiting factors to migration. Some areas affected include Kaitede, Merikuka, Natete, Kokuro, Todonyang, Loruth, and Nakitong'o.

    There were reports of conflict and insecurity in Samburu and Turkana despite the areas having been under a dawn-to-dusk curfew since February 12, 2023, to curb insecurity. Livestock raids and theft were reported in the southern parts of the zone in Logorate in Suguta ward, which led to injuries of two persons and theft of 30 cattle and 40 goats and sheep in Loibor Ngare (Loosuk ward) and communities near the border of Baringo, Turkana South and West Pokot amidst a high occurrence of banditry activities. The dawn-to-dusk curfew in the southwestern parts of the zone (parts of Samburu and Turkana counties) continues to constrain household engagement in typical livelihood activities, limiting household access to income and food. 

    According to key informant data collected in September through telephone interviews, during the reference period of July to August 2023, livestock herding, small business and petty trade, firewood/ charcoal sales, domestic labor, and charcoal labor were noted as the main sources of off-own farm income. The most important use of this off-own farm income is for food purchases and, to a lesser extent, education, while in Turkana, it is also used to a lesser extent on social obligations such as gifts and remittances. Income from livestock herding was similar to a typical year for most households, with income ranging from 3000 to 4,500 KES per month in cases where the payment is in cash. However, around two-thirds of respondents reported that livestock herding opportunities are below average compared to normal and are likely attributed to below-average herd sizes, as reported during the KFSSG 2023 Long Rains Assessment. Charcoal and firewood sales were reported as average to above average compared to normal, driven by high demand caused by insecurity and border closures, rising prices of alternatives like cooking gas and paraffin/kerosene, high transport costs, and high cost of living. Income-earning opportunities from small businesses and trade were mostly below average for most households due to the high cost of sourcing commodities, the high cost of living, and lower liquidity among consumers due to the impact of the drought.

    In September, around 20 to 25 percent of households in Samburu, Turkana, and Marsabit received cash transfers and humanitarian food assistance from various humanitarian partners and the government. Beneficiaries receive rations equivalent to 50 to 75 percent of a full ration of their food needs. According to the Kenya Cash Working Group, the minimum food basket (MFB) or full ration costs 11,361 KES per household/month (~76 USD). However, most humanitarian assistance programs will likely conclude at the end of October as household access to food and income improve through the expected above-average October to December short rains.

    According to September NDMA sentinel site data, maize prices in monitored markets range from 87 to 100 KES per kilogram across the AOC and around 30 to 60 percent above the five-year averages. High transport costs, high cross-border imports, and high demand drive the high cost of maize. Goat prices in monitored markets ranged from 3,296 to 5,230 KES per goat and are 20 to 50 percent above the five-year average driven by fair to very good livestock body conditions driven by available forage and water conditions. The goat-to-maize terms of trade (TOTs) are 33 to 60 kilograms of maize per across the AOC, the equivalent of around 8 to 15 days of kilocalories for a household of six. However, the high maize prices are continuing to constrict household purchasing power (Figure 6).    

    Figure 6

    Goat-to-maize terms-of-trade, September 2023
    Goat-to-maize terms of trade are improving but remain lower than the five-year average in most markets.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA

    According to September NDMA sentinel site data, households are consuming staples and vegetables, with occasional access to milk. The low diet diversity and reduced number of daily meals result in many households recording borderline or poor food consumption scores, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. Additionally, the low household food access is leading households to apply livelihood and consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while small proportions of worse-off households are employing coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) such as sale of last female animals to obtain income. 

    The prevalence of acute malnutrition is gradually declining in the Northwest and Northern pastoral counties, with around 14 to 19 percent of children under five in NDMA sentinel sites recording a MUAC of less than 135mm from May to September. However, the proportion of children at risk of acute malnutrition (MUAC <135 mm) in the western part of the AOC remains 11 percent higher than the five-year average, while it is within average prevalence in the eastern parts of the livelihood zone, and 33 percent lower than the five-year average in the south as household's slowly recover from the drought with increased milk consumption and purchasing power at markets.

    Overall, the above-average March to May long rains have helped drive gradual improvements in household acute food security across the livelihood zones. However, high staple food prices and below-average milk production continue to limit household food access, and poor households continue to rely on coping strategies and humanitarian assistance to fill food gaps, resulting in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes in Turkana and Marsabit and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Samburu. 

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Retail maize prices in the Lodwar market are expected to be around 30 to 45 percent above the five-year average, driven by high-priced cross-border imports, high fuel prices, and local currency depreciation. However, prices will likely be around 5 to 15 percent below prices in 2022/2023, attributed to increased production in the main source markets of Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties and lower demand as livestock prices improve household access to substitutes. 
    • According to FEWS NET integrated price projections, goat prices in the Lodwar market indicate that prices are expected to be around 20 to 65 percent above the five-year average throughout the scenario period. The high prices will likely be driven by significantly improved goat body conditions following the forecast of above-average 2023 October to December short rains and likely average 2024 March to May long rains. 
    • The October to December short rains will likely improve forage, pasture, and water resources and drive migrated livestock back to wet season grazing areas, improving livestock sale value and milk availability. Improved livestock prices and milk production are expected to improve household access to income and reduce their dependence on non-livestock-related income sources and coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps. 
    • Towards the end of the short rains, a Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak will likely occur in Marsabit and Samburu counties. The outbreaks will likely result in quarantines and the closure of livestock markets, affecting household livestock-related income. Limited prevention and control measures at the county level are likely to result in human fatalities and significant abortions and deaths in livestock. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes 

    Between October and January, the forecast above average October to December rains is likely to have an early or timely onset, but it will result in the deaths of livestock that are in poor body condition due to drowning, hypothermia, and pneumonic diseases. The above-average rains will drive the regeneration of forage and water resources and significantly reduce return trekking distances for households and livestock. Livestock will remain in the wet season grazing areas close to the homesteads as their body condition and productivity improves. From November, livestock birth rates will increase significantly, with cattle births improving overall milk production and availability to at least average levels. Despite the increased livestock births and milk production, households are expected to consume most of the milk at the household level as a ready source of food and keep the livestock in the grazing areas, restricting livestock sales for the purchase of only essential food commodities, restricting income from milk and livestock sales. Households are expected to continue depending on off-own income such as livestock herding, petty trade, sale of charcoal and firewood, domestic labor, and charcoal labor, likely cumulatively below average. From November, household food and milk consumption will gradually improve, with households likely consuming two instead of the normal three meals a day with milk as a supplement; however, dietary diversity will remain low. In December, RVF outbreaks will likely be driven by mosquito vectors inhabiting stagnant water after the rains, resulting in livestock and human illnesses, deaths, and quarantines that will constrain livestock trade and household income. Throughout the October to January period, poor households will likely continue to engage in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as households slowly increase their access to food and income. The increased access to milk and food will reduce the prevalence of acute malnutrition, but Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) levels are likely to remain present based on historical trends due to high disease burden, including increased prevalence of diarrheal and malaria illness during the wet seasons, in addition to chronic factors, including consumption of unsafe water and poor child feeding and care practices. Overall, an increasing number of households will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) towards January; however, at least 20 percent of households will likely only be able to meet their minimum food needs by engaging in crisis-coping strategies for much of the scenario period resulting in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area level outcomes. 

    From February to May, there will be limited seasonal deterioration of water and forage resources until the start of the March to May long rains, supported by the above-average regeneration during the above-average October to December short rains. Livestock will remain in the wet season grazing areas, keeping milk accessible to households, and the start of the long rains will improve livestock body conditions, productivity, and household income from livestock and milk sales to above-average levels. Livestock births, including camel births, are expected to begin in March, improving milk production even further. Increasing livestock prices are expected to offset the high staple food prices that are expected to persist throughout the scenario period, resulting in above-average goat-to-maize terms of trade and household food access. Improved food access and availability will reduce households' application of consumption and livelihood-based strategies, with a small proportion of households applying coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Most households will return to eating three meals daily and regularly consume vegetables, meat, and milk, improving dietary diversity. Over 80 percent of households are likely to have an Acceptable FCS, with a minority of households applying consumption coping strategies mostly indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2), such as reducing meal portion sizes, meal frequency, and eating less preferred foods. Widespread improvements in food security will be experienced in households across the AOC; however, at least 20 percent of households will be unable to afford their non-food needs and be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 


    Area of Concern: Northeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone (Figure 7)

    Figure 7

    Area of concern reference map, Northeastern Pastoral livelihood zone
    Area of concern reference map, Northeastern Pastoral livelihood zone

    Source: FEWS NET

    The primary source of income among poor households is the sale of small ruminant livestock and milk, while other income sources include petty trading and small businesses, livestock-related casual waged labor, charcoal/firewood sales, and inter-annual safety nets such as the Hunger Safety Net Program (HSNP) by the national government and implemented through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA). Poor households typically purchase food since the livelihood zone has limited crop production potential due to the low annual rainfall. Milk and wild fruits and vegetables are also important food sources. 

    The October to December short rains started on time to 10 days late in most parts of the livelihood zone. By October 31, most of the livelihood zone has cumulatively received over 125 to 300 percent of the 40-year average rainfall. However, the delayed rainfall onset continues to sustain anomalously low vegetation conditions. According to the satellite-derived eVIIRS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), vegetation conditions are recovering and are 70 to 110 percent of the 2012-2021 average. Relatedly, boreholes, water pans, shallow wells, traditional river wells, and river Daua in Mandera remain the typical water sources for both livestock and domestic use and are recovering with the above-average rainfall. The good availability of rangeland resources continues to maintain livestock in the wet season grazing areas where livestock return trekking distances to watering points from grazing areas are seasonally low. According to NDMA September bulletins, the trekking distances range between 8 km to 15 km compared to a three-year average of 15 km to 20 km. Livestock are watered daily in most areas, which is uncommon at the peak of the lean season when watering frequency is typically three to four times a week.

    Kidding and calving have begun across the livelihood zone, but livestock herd sizes remain significantly low following the sustained drought-related losses and increased sales during the historic drought, coupled with below-average conception and birth rates. According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) 2023 March to May long rains assessment conducted in July and August, the Tropical Livestock Units1 (TLU) among the poor households were two in Mandera compared to nine normally, one in Isiolo compared to four normally, and four in Wajir compared to eight normally. Field reports indicate that livestock body conditions range from fair to good and support average to above-average milk production, improving household milk availability. According to NDMA September bulletins, milk production is average and ranges from 1.4 to 2 liters per household per day across the northeastern pastoral livelihood zone compared to a short-term average of 1 to 1.5 liters per household per day. Households consume most of the milk produced, so household incomes from milk sales remain low, limiting access to food from markets. 

    Livestock sale values are high due to the good body conditions and reduced market supply as households minimize sales to improve their herd sizes. According to NDMA September bulletins, a medium-sized goat retails for 4700-6175 KES per goat, around 55 percent to 75 percent higher than the five-year average and 88 to 121 percent higher than prices last year. Although the goat prices are high, the number of goats offered for sale is unseasonably low. With the significantly low livelihood assets, poor households face limited sources of income to purchase their food and non-food needs. Households are also engaging in off-own-farm income activities to narrow income deficits. 

    According to key informant data collected in September through telephone interviews by FEWS NET, firewood sales, and livestock herding were the most significant off-own-farm income sources in Mandera between July and August 2023, while small business and petty trade, charcoal sales, and livestock herding were the most significant income sources in Wajir. In Mandera and Wajir, a household was earning an average of 7,000 KES (47.6 USD) per month from livestock herding. Most of the income was used for food expenditures. Staple food prices remain unseasonably high due to reduced local availability, which has increased the reliance on cross-border imports and the high marketing costs resulting from the increasing fuel prices. According to NDMA September bulletins, maize prices in monitored markets are 14 percent higher than the five-year average in Mandera and 41 percent to 55 percent above the five-year averages in Isiolo and Wajir. Household purchasing power and food access, measured using the goat-to-cereal terms of trade, have been steadily improving, mainly driven by the increasing livestock prices (Figure 8). In September, the sale of one medium-sized goat could purchase 53 to 66 kgs of maize, the equivalent of 15 to 18 days of kilocalories for a household of six.  

    Figure 8

    Goat-to-maize terms-of-trade, September 2023
    Goat-to-maize terms of trade are improving but remain lower than the five-year average in most markets.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from NDMA

    In October, over 20 percent of households across the livelihood zone continued to receive humanitarian assistance. Around 46,000 households are continuing to receive 5,400 KES every two months (~36 USD) through the national HSNP program, while almost 51,590 households are receiving cash transfers and in-food assistance equivalent to 50-75 percent of monthly rations from WFP's Lisha Jamii Program. In Wajir, around 10,465 households receive cash transfers equivalent to a half to full monthly ration from various actors including Save the Children and WASDA, while in Mandera, around 786 households receive a 75 percent monthly ration from NAPAD. Around 4,130 households in Isiolo also receive rations equivalent to 50 to 75 percent of their monthly kilocalorie needs from agencies such as ACF and Oxfam. The distribution of humanitarian assistance continues to mitigate the impacts of the historic drought on household food availability and purchasing power.  

    Even with improving incomes and household milk availability, household purchasing power and food access remain limited by high staple food prices and the cumulative impact of the historic drought, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes still present for at least one in five poor households. According to NDMA September monitoring data, over a third of households reported a borderline FCS, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. In Isiolo and Wajir, households employ consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) such as consuming less preferred foods, limiting portion sizes, and reducing the number of meals consumed daily. However, in Mandera, households are employing consumption-based coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, such as restricting consumption by adults for small children to eat. The prevalence of acute malnutrition among children of five years is gradually declining but will likely remain at Critical (GAM 15-29.9%) levels. According to NDMA surveillance data, the prevalence of acute malnutrition, measured using the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC<115mm), was 22 percent to 29 percent lower than the five-year average in Isiolo and Wajir, while the prevalence was 29 percent above the five-year average in Mandera.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Widespread flooding is expected in the low-lying areas of Wajir North, Wajir West, and Eldas sub-counties in Wajir county and along the flood plains of River Ewaso Ngíro in Isiolo and River Daua in Mandera in November and December. The floods are likely to result in deaths, displacement of households, and livestock losses.
    • There is an elevated risk of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreaks due to the expected flooding and likely stagnant water from November through to January 2024, creating conducive conditions for the disease vector's Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. The spread of the disease is likely to be aggravated by poor handling of infected livestock and livestock products.
    • Goat and sheep birth rates during the 2023 October to December short rains are likely to be above average following good conception rates during the average 2023 March to May long rains and a mild July to September lean season that minimized losses through abortions. Cattle birth rates are likely to be near average due to improved conception rates. Similarly, goat and sheep birthrates will be above average during the 2024 March to May long rains due to improved conception rates during the short rains, improving herd sizes, household milk availability, and incomes from milk sales.
    • Although maize prices are likely to be lower than last year's, they are expected to be above the five-year average due to high fuel and transportation prices. According to FEWS NET price projections for the Isiolo reference market, maize retail prices are projected to be around 35 to 45 percent above the five-year average and around 10 to 20 percent below last year's prices.
    • Livestock prices in the Isiolo reference market are likely to follow seasonal trends and be around 40 percent to 75 percent above the five-year average, driven by a tight market supply as households seek to rebuild their herd sizes following successive seasons of increased sales and drought-related deaths. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between October and January 2024, the forecast above-average short rains will drive significant improvements in rangeland resource availability, gradually improving livestock milk production and household access to an important source of food and income. While access to rangeland resources is expected to be good in most areas, widespread flooding due to the above-average rainfall in the low-lying areas of Wajir North, Wajir West, and Eldas sub-counties in Wajir county and along the flood plains of River Ewaso Ngíro in Isiolo and River Daua in Mandera in November will likely impede access to grazing fields in these areas. The flooding will also likely result in livestock deaths and displaced households. Additionally, this will increase the risk of a Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak that would result in a higher-than-normal livestock mortality rate. Following good conception during the March to May long rains, the birth rates for sheep and goats are expected to be above average, while the birth rates of cattle will be near average, slowly improving household herd sizes. However, households are unlikely to increase sales as they seek to restore their herds despite above-average livestock prices. Although the improvements in livestock productivity will improve household access to income from milk sales and livestock herding labor to average levels, income from other sources, such as the sale and production of charcoal, will be limited by the wet conditions. However, the high staple food prices and their substitutes will continue limiting household purchasing power as households seek to pay off debts incurred during the historic drought. Consequently, most households are likely to employ consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with the most affected households engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. As household access to food improves, the prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely decline gradually, but the likely high prevalence of waterborne and water-related diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and malaria due to water contamination will limit improvements resulting in Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) levels in Mandera and Wajir and Serious (GAM 10-14.9%) in Isiolo. Consequently, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in Wajir and Isiolo, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in Mandera. 

    Between February and May 2024, the above-average forage resources will keep livestock in the wet season grazing areas during the short February to March lean season and maintain good household access to milk. With the forecast average to above average March to May long rains rangeland resources will remain high, supporting good livestock body conditions and productivity through May and maintaining good household milk availability. Herd sizes will likely improve through this period due to average calving and above-average kidding of goats and sheep following good conception rates during the 2023 long and short rains. As herd sizes increase, households are likely to slowly increase livestock sales due to the high livestock sale values, gradually increasing household access to income to near-average levels. Similarly, due to improved production, households are likely to earn above-average incomes from milk sales. However, household purchasing power and food access will continue to be limited by the above-average staple food prices, in addition to paying back past debts. Consequently, most households will likely employ coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to meet their food and non-food needs. Even with the improvements in household milk availability, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to be at Critical (GAM 15-29.9%) levels in Mandera and Wajir and Serious (GAM 10-14.9%) in Isiolo due to an expected high prevalence of waterborne and water-related diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and malaria which are likely to be elevated by other chronic factors such as low access to health nutrition services and poor hygiene and sanitation. Overall, the increased access to income from milk and livestock will improve household food access and dietary diversity to normal, but the high cost of living is likely to result in households relying on coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to meet their non-food needs, driving widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Food Security Outlook October 2023 - May 2024: El Niño-driven short rains expected to drive recovery from historic drought, 2023.

    1

    Tropical Livestock Units are livestock numbers converted to a common unit. Camels = 1.1; cattle=0.5; sheep and goats=0.1; pigs=0.2; and chickens=0.01

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top