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Rural food security deteriorates as livestock productivity and household food stocks decline

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • January 2021
Rural food security deteriorates as livestock productivity and household food stocks decline

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In the pastoral areas, declining forage and water resources are driving declines in livestock productivity, atypical migration to dryland grazing areas, and conflict over pasture and water sources. Milk production is below average except in Isiolo, Marsabit, and Garissa counties. Households are relying on income from still-above-average livestock sale prices and maintaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area-level outcomes; however, an increasing proportion of the population is expected to be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, food crops such as maize, beans, millet, sorghum, green grams, and cowpeas are in the knee-high to tasseling and pod filling stages but exhibiting moisture stress following the below-average October to December 2020 short rains. The upcoming harvest is anticipated to be approximately 30 percent below-average.  As household food stocks diminish, households are increasing their reliance on market food purchases, driving a gradual increase in food prices. Agricultural waged labor opportunities, and livestock, charcoal, and firewood sales are maintaining household income and food access and driving area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • According to field reports and by FAO, there are currently mature desert locust swarm invasions ongoing in central and northern Kenya, while immature bands and groups of hoppers have been reported along the coast in parts of Kilifi and Taita Taveta. With the upcoming March to May long rains, mature swarm invasions are expected to persist in northern and parts of southeastern Kenya, with hopper invasions in coastal areas. The desert locusts continue to pose a serious threat to crop and forage production in affected areas.

    • Poor urban households in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, driven by constrained access to labor and incomes from ongoing COVID-19 restrictions like the 10 pm to 4 am curfew, reduced business operating hours, and increasing food prices. Urban poor households are engaging in crisis-coping strategies such as reducing non-food expenses like healthcare and selling productive assets such as sewing machines, wheelbarrows, and bicycles to meet their minimum food needs. The worst-affected households in the Mukuru and Dandora informal settlements of Nairobi continue to engage in coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    • In December, maize prices were 10-18 percent above the five-year average in monitored markets of Nairobi, Eldoret, Kajiado, Garissa, Mandera, and Kwale, driven by low market supply from COVID-19 restrictions and border closures with Ethiopia and Somalia. Across other monitored markets, maize prices ranged from average to 22 percent below average, buoyed by the unimodal harvest from high and medium potential areas of the North Rift and Western Kenya, and cross-border imports. Bean prices were average in Eldoret, Taita Taveta, and Meru, and 16 percent below average in Kisumu, driven by the unimodal long rains harvest and neighboring markets. Bean prices across remaining monitored markets ranged between 10-30 percent above average following the two consecutive below-average seasons in 2020.

    • Kenya has continued to record less than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases since January 15, 2021, and a weekly test positivity rate of less than 3 percent. Following the full reopening of schools in January, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has projected that Kenya will record approximately 13,700 new COVID-19 cases by June, with daily case rates spiking in mid-March. Following the purchase of 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations, health workers and teachers will begin receiving the vaccinations in February. However, COVID-19 control measures are likely to remain in place through at least June and continue impacting income-earning opportunities for urban poor households.  

    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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