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A delayed start to the March-to-May long rains expected to further intensify food insecurity

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • March 2022
A delayed start to the March-to-May long rains expected to further intensify food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • According to international and regional forecasts, the March-to-May long rains season is expected to be below average. Most arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya are forecast to receive 60-75 percent of normal rainfall, with deeper deficits amounting to less than 60 percent of average likely in localized areas of northeastern pastoral Kenya. The typical start of seasonal rainfall in March is delayed by 10 to 20 days, with regional forecasts indicating that an effective start of rainfall will not occur until late March or early April, around when peak rainfall is typically recorded.

    • Staple food prices remain atypically high, driven by below-average production across the country. High food prices are reducing household purchasing power and limiting household food access. In February, maize prices were 8-28 percent above the five-year average, except in Nairobi, Kilifi, and Turkana, where prices are average, supported by cross-border imports. Across the country, bean prices were 11-35 percent above the five-year average following four consecutive below-average production seasons. In February, goat prices were 10-30 percent above the five-year average in West Pokot, Laikipia, and Tana River, average in Samburu, Baringo, and Isiolo, and 14-39 percent below the five-year average in the rest of the pastoral markets due to declining livestock body conditions. Goat prices in Wajir, Marsabit, and Turkana are the lowest recorded since April 2017, October 2011, and December 2011, respectively.

    • Land preparation is underway in marginal agricultural areas, but the planted area is expected to be below average due to below-average income from crop sales and limited seed availability following the below-average short rains. Similarly, income from agricultural waged labor remains below average, driving continued household reliance 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 county governments, non-governmental organizations and humanitarian partners, and school meal programs to bridge food gaps. With atypically low household food availability and limited incomes, more poor households continue to engage in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in southern parts of Kitui and Makueni.

    • Household food access remains below average in the pastoral areas, with goat-to-maize terms-of-trade 10–51 percent below the five-year average in northern and eastern pastoral areas. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in pastoral areas, with at least one in five households in Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, and Isiolo counties facing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), supported by humanitarian assistance for food and income. The return trekking distances for livestock continue to increase and range from around 12 to 33 kilometers. Livestock body conditions are “fair-to-poor” for all species and “very poor” in Marsabit, with a liter or less of milk production per household per day, around 50-80 below average the five-year average. Increased migration is also resulting in resource-based conflicts in Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, and Turkana, causing insecurity and restricting livelihood activities.   

    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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