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Below-average crop harvests and livestock production heightens household food insecurity

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • July 2021
Below-average crop harvests and livestock production heightens household food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Crop and livestock production is below average in eastern and northern Kenya following the cumulatively below-average March to May long rains. Harvests in marginal agricultural areas are ongoing and expected to be below average. In marginal agricultural and pastoral areas, livestock continue to migrate for forage and water resources, reducing household access to milk access and income as livestock body conditions deteriorate. Anticipated below-average crop harvests and declining livestock sale values are expected to result in lower household income, reducing household purchasing power and market access to food, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in marginal agricultural and pastoral areas. 

    • Across the marginal agricultural areas, yields are expected to be below average due to the below-average planted acreage and poorly distributed March to May long rains. Harvesting is ongoing for beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, and green grams. The maize crop varies from the knee-high to harvesting stage and is in poor condition due to moisture stress, with the maize crop in Taita Taveta likely to be in very poor condition. In Embu (Mbeere), there are reports of fall armyworm (FAW) infestations of the maize crop, which is likely to impact yields negatively. In Kilifi, the late-planted maize crop is in good condition, supported by near-average rainfall in June and July, with cassava, vegetables, and mangoes currently being harvested. Overall, the poor crop yields in marginal agricultural areas are reducing agricultural labor opportunities for households during the harvest. However, the harvest is maintaining household food availability in the short-term, supporting area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, but the most vulnerable households are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • In the pastoral areas, vegetation is seasonally declining, and distances from water sources to grazing areas for livestock are atypically high. Across most pastoral areas, trekking distances range from 10.5-23.8 km, 23-65 percent above the three-year average. However, trekking distances are average in Mandera and 9-12 percent below average in Wajir and Marsabit, but livestock watering frequencies are expected to decline. The decline in rangeland resources continues to drive intra- and inter-county and cross-border livestock migration. Resource-based conflicts have resulted in increased tension, human fatalities, and restricted livelihood activities in affected areas. Livestock prices range from average to 8 percent above the five-year average across most pastoral markets due to fair livestock body conditions. However, in Turkana and Wajir, livestock prices are 7-20 percent below average due to declining livestock body conditions. As rangeland resources continue to deteriorate, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to persist as livestock body conditions decline, impacting household access to milk and income.

    • In June, maize prices were 18-23 percent above the five-year average in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa, driven by high demand for household consumption and livestock feed. However, prices ranged from average to 17 percent below average across the rest of the country, supported by local stocks and cross-border imports. In Nairobi and Mombasa, maize prices were 28-38 percent below average, supported by cross-border sources. Bean prices are on a decreasing trend and range from average to 27 percent below average as harvests occur across Kenya. However, in marginal agricultural areas, bean prices were 9-14 percent above the five-year average due to high demand and the expected below average and slightly delayed long rains harvest.

    • As of July 29, Kenya has registered 201,009 cumulative COVID-19 cases since mid-March 2020, with a seven-day rolling average of around 843 new cases per day. Kenya has administered 1.71 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with around 2 percent of the population receiving at least one vaccine dose. On July 1, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) warned that Kenya is likely to experience a fourth wave of infections between July and August, attributed to the fast-spreading Delta variant. On June 29, in response to the rise in daily cases, the government continued the country-wide and “hot spot” specific restrictions. The continuation of the COVID-19 related restrictions is likely to continue impacting urban poor income-earning opportunities and drive the continued engagement in coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 

    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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