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Positive impacts of above average long rains limited by intense flooding countrywide

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • April 2024
Positive impacts of above average long rains limited by intense flooding countrywide

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following a delayed start to the March to May long rains, heavy rainfall in April resulted in cumulatively above-average rainfall across most of the country. The heavy rainfall supports the ongoing recovery of water resources and pasture in pastoral areas and crop production in marginal agricultural areas. However, it has also led to flash floods across the country. Tropical cyclone Hidaya is also expected to contribute to heavy rainfall and strong winds off the Kenyan coast. The warmer-than-normal temperatures (3-6 degrees Celsius above average) likely contribute to the episodic heavy rainfall that results in localized flash floods. In addition, the abnormal heat drives faster evaporation rates from open water sources, evapotranspiration from plants, and dries soils more quickly. Fortunately, the transition to La Niña ENSO conditions in mid-2024 is unlikely to affect the long rains harvest in June and July in bimodal areas, or the long rains harvest later in the year in western unimodal areas of Kenya.  
    • According to a flood operations update by the Kenya Red Cross and additional reports, the ongoing heavy rains and flash floods have impacted an estimated 37,000 households, displaced about 19,000 households across 33 counties, destroyed an estimated 32,000 acres of cropland, and caused over 5,700 livestock deaths. So far, Kisumu, Nairobi, Garissa, and Tana River counties are the most affected, containing approximately 55 percent of the flood-affected households. According to a UNOCHA flooding update, food and non-food item (NFI) distributions by the government and humanitarian agencies have reached about 20,000 people so far. The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has established approximately 90 internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, while also distributing temporary shelters, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) supplies, NFIs, and food. Following forecasts of above-average rainfall in central and western Kenya through early May by the Kenya Meteorological Department, the Water Resources Authority (WRA) issued a heavy flood advisory. Communities in low-lying areas particularly of the Tana, Lake Victoria, Rift Valley basins, and urban areas have been advised to watch for riverine and flash floods.
    • Staple food prices are gradually declining, driven by the availability of the short rains production and cross-border imports from Uganda and Tanzania. Despite this, the high marketing costs, driven by high fuel prices and declining local currency, continue to maintain prices at above-average levels. In March, maize prices were within the five-year average in Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Kwale, Kisumu, and Isiolo, 9 to 18 percent below the five-year average in Kitui, Embu, and Meru, and 17 percent to 29 percent above the five-year average in the rest of the country. Across the country, bean prices were 10 to 37 percent above the five-year averages, driven by low local availability following below-average 2023 short rains production. The overall gradual decline in staple food prices continues to improve household food access, with cross-border imports likely to maintain price declines in the coming months.
    • In marginal agricultural areas, above-average rainfall is supporting crop development. Many crops, such as beans, cowpeas, and green grams, are at early vegetative stages; while cereals, such as maize, are at knee-high. Except in localized areas in the southern parts of Kitui and Makueni where crops are only at emergent stages following below-average cumulative rainfall in March. In Kilifi, available information suggests that planting is well below normal due to erratic rainfall. Weeding and spraying activities are ongoing in the rest of the areas, providing households with near-average incomes. Households are also earning average incomes from crop sales from the above average October to December short rains harvests. Although household food stocks are declining gradually, through sale and consumption, they continue to maintain a typically low dependence on markets. Overall, the high cost of living and repayment of debts incurred during the drought keep at least one in five households Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and unable to afford essential non-food expenditures.
    • In pastoral areas, the ongoing rainfall supports the recovery of water, pasture, and forage resources. However, the KRCS estimates about 15,500 households have been affected by floods, particularly in Garissa and Tana River counties, where 80 percent of the affected households are located. According to March NDMA drought early warning bulletins, return trekking distances to domestic and livestock water sources are 2.2 and 13.6 kilometers and average to around 70 percent shorter than the three-year average. In Garissa, the late start to the long rains in March resulted in households and livestock trekking further than normal, but the heavy rainfall in April and increased river levels have improved water access. The decline in trekking distances and improvements in pasture and forage access have led to fair to very good livestock body conditions and largely above-average milk production. However, small herd sizes in Samburu, Garissa, and Marsabit are limiting household milk production. Overall, the ongoing recovery of herd sizes, largely average milk production, high livestock prices, and decline in maize prices support pastoral purchasing power and food access, driving area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Key Message Update April 2024: Positive impacts of above average long rains limited by intense flooding countrywide, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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