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March to May long rains now expected to be below average in bimodal areas

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • March 2019
March to May long rains now expected to be below average in bimodal areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • According to the 2018 Short Rains Assessment conducted in February 2019 by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), 1.1 million Kenyans are currently in need of humanitarian food assistance, including an estimated 800,000 in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 300,000 that are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with a high likelihood of deteriorating to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Areas of greatest concern include Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, Tana River, and Isiolo, where the proportion of the food insecure population is highest. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist at the area level in most pastoral and marginal agricultural counties.

    • The onset of the March to May long rains has been delayed or below average due to tropical cyclone Idai, which redirected moisture away from the East Africa region. This has impeded the start of planting activities in central, eastern, northeastern, and North Rift regions. Hotter-than-normal land surface temperatures (LST) continue to hasten deterioration of vegetation conditions and depletion of water resources, especially in northwestern, northeastern, and eastern pastoral areas where there has been prolonged, atypical dryness since October. Cumulative rainfall in bimodal areas is now likely to be below average. However, rains are likely to be above average from May through August in unimodal, surplus-producing areas of western Kenya and the Rift Valley.

    • Given rapid decline in browse conditions, goat prices in Garissa and Turkana are now expected to decrease to below-average levels until the establishment of the long rains. In pastoral key reference markets in Turkana, maize prices in February remained 18 percent below the five-year average and 24 percent below 2018 prices, moderating declines in livestock-to-cereal terms of trade. However, maize prices were 11 – 12 percent above average in Mandera and Garissa, due to delayed imports from Ethiopia and depleted stocks, respectively, which has lowered the livestock-to-cereal terms of trade. Maize prices in marginal agricultural areas remained low in February, ranging from 20 to 25 percent below the five-year average.

    • In marginal agricultural areas, delayed and below-average long rains are likely to lead to a decrease in agricultural wage labor demand, and crop yields are likely to be at least 25 percent below average. Coupled with currently low household food stocks, more households are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In pastoral areas, accelerated depletion of rangeland resources will cause deterioration in livestock body conditions, lowering productivity and limiting livestock-related income opportunities. Combined with related resource-based conflict, more households are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Should rainfall be significantly below average, the effects of two consecutive below-average rainy seasons could lead to a deterioration in outcomes at the area level beginning in August.

    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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