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Below-average harvest anticipated following poor March-May long rains

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • May 2021
Below-average harvest anticipated following poor March-May long rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following the late start of the March to May long rains, cumulative rainfall across most of northern and eastern Kenya is less than 55 percent to 70 percent of normal, except for Mandera, where rainfall has been 95-115 percent of normal. Most of western Kenya has received normal to above-normal rainfall, with parts of northwestern Turkana and the western agropastoral zone receiving less than 55 percent to 85 percent of normal rainfall. The poor distribution of rainfall over the long rains is expected to drive poor crop yields in the marginal agricultural areas and below-average livestock body conditions in the pastoral areas.

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, most crops are in the vegetative stages; however, in Kitui, Kwale, Kilifi, Meru (Meru North) counties, crops are in the germination to early vegetative stages following the poor start to the rains. Most households are engaged in weeding and spraying. Below-average harvests are expected due to likely moisture deficits during the critical grain-filling stages. Dwindling food stocks are driving poor households to atypical market dependence in the presence of below-average incomes from agricultural waged labor opportunities, driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes among poor households, with the most vulnerable households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • In the pastoral areas, cumulatively below-average rainfall has improved forage and increased water availability through May for domestic and livestock use, driving intra-county migration to areas where rangeland resources have improved. However, in Marsabit, rangeland resources as measured by NDVI remain below average. According to the NDMA April bulletins, livestock body conditions are largely “fair” across pastoral areas, with the worse off livestock exhibiting “poor” body conditions. Milk production remains average to below average across the pastoral areas as households increase their reliance on market purchases. As the dry season begins, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist across pastoral livelihood zones.

    • Although the government has shortened the national curfew to 10 pm to 4 am and lifted the COVID-19 containment zone in Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru, and Kajiado counties, below-normal labor opportunities are constraining poor urban household incomes and food access. An increasing number of poor urban households continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, employing crisis-coping strategies such as purchasing food on credit, reducing the number and size of meals, borrowing food, skipping meals, and reducing healthcare expenses. The most affected households in the urban areas are applying coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) by engaging in illegal income activities such as prostitution and selling illicit liquor.

    • In April, maize prices were average to below-average, supported by production from the high and medium production areas of western Kenya and the North Rift and increased regional cross-border imports from Uganda and Tanzania. However, in Garissa and Mandera, maize prices were 11-22 percent above average due to lower market supply-driven by COVID-19 restrictions limiting cross-border trade with Somalia and Ethiopia. Bean prices ranged from 9 percent below average in Kisumu to 26 percent above average in other monitored markets following three consecutive below-average production seasons.

    • As of May 26, 2021, Kenya has registered 169,356 COVID-19 cases, with a seven-day rolling average of 425 daily confirmed cases. Around 20 percent of the national COVID-19 cases are being recorded in Kisumu County, believed to be caused by the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India, raising nationwide concern of a fourth COVID-19 wave. Kenya has vaccinated around 960,379 people with at least one dose but has received just 1 million out of 24 million doses ordered from COVAX. Due to India banning vaccine exports, Kenya is procuring additional doses from neighboring counties that cannot administer the vaccine doses before they expire in June. The government has also ordered 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with the hope of vaccinating most of the adult population by next year.

    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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