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Acute food insecurity is expected to remain high in 2022 following poor short rains

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • January 2022
Acute food insecurity is expected to remain high in 2022 following poor short rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In pastoral areas, rainfall in December provided slight improvements to forage and water resources, but pasture and browse conditions remain mostly “poor to fair” to “poor” at the end of the short rains. Livestock trekking distances are 48-79 percent above average and double the average in Turkana as households seek pasture and water for their herds. Consequently, livestock body conditions at NDMA sentinel sites in pastoral areas remain “poor” and “fair to poor” at the end of the short rains and will likely deteriorate until the start of the March to May long rains. Due to above-average trekking distances and poor livestock body conditions, milk production at NDMA sentinel sites in pastoral areas is 23-89 percent below average, with no milk production recorded at NDMA sentinel sites in Turkana as households prioritize milk for calves/kids. Most households rely on income from casual labor and the sale of livestock and livestock products, with the sale of a goat fetching 58-85 kg of maize, around 52-76 percent of the five-year average. Overall, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to prevail in pastoral areas, with the worst-affected households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

    • In February 2022, the short rains harvest is expected to be up to 70 percent below average following the poor and significantly delayed short rains in the marginal agricultural areas. In most areas, crops are not expected to reach maturity as cereal crops are at the knee-high stage compared to grain filling and maturity normally, and legumes at flowering to early pod filling stages compared to maturity normally. The absence of the typical green and early harvests in late December and January is constraining household food availability. Poor households are increasingly dependent on non-agricultural waged labor opportunities, firewood and charcoal sales, and petty trade to bridge income deficits and support market purchases. Poor households are also relying on humanitarian assistance from national and local governments, NGOs, and school meal programs to minimize food gaps. An increasing number of households are engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes emerging in the southern parts of Kitui and Makueni. 

    • In December, maize prices in Mombasa were 23 percent above average due to high demand and declining maize imports from Tanzania. In the Eldoret market, maize prices were 34 percent above average as farmers limit stocks due to negotiations with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), a major buyer, over prices. However, maize prices remained average in the Nairobi and Kisumu markets, supported by cross-border imports. In pastoral areas, maize prices are average to 34 percent above average, driven by atypically high human and livestock consumption demand. In the marginal agricultural areas, maize prices are average to 15 percent above average due to increased demand and reduced availability. Across Kenya, bean prices in December 2021 are 6-36 percent above average due to low availability following four successive below-average production seasons. In December, goat prices are 7-38 percent below the five-year average, driven by deteriorating body conditions and market oversupply due to poor rangeland resources following the below-average October to December 2021 short rains.

    • According to an urban food security assessment in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, COVID-19 control measures continue to impact urban poor food security, with at least one in five households in December 2021 likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to below-average access to income. However, fewer urban poor households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes compared to 2020 due to increased access to income following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. As of January 31, 2022, at least 6.52 million people in Kenya have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, approximately 12 percent of the population. The government plans to vaccinate 27 million people by June 2022. 

    • There is an elevated likelihood that the March-May 2022 long rains in northern and eastern Kenya will be below average based on historical analogs of La Niña, particularly those with a transition from La Niña to ENSO neutral, and the forecast strength of the warm Western Pacific Gradient. Based on median rainfall in historical analog years, rainfall will likely range from 60-75 percent of average in general. However, deeper deficits of less than 60 percent of average are likely in localized areas of northern pastoral Kenya. The start of the February-August 2022 long rains in western unimodal Kenya is likely to be above average. 

    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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