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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in northern and northeastern Kenya

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • May 2022
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in northern and northeastern Kenya

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • From March 1 to May 20, CHIRPS seasonal cumulative rainfall is largely less than 85 percent of the 1981-2010 average across much of Kenya, with less than 55 percent of average rainfall recorded in Tana River, Garissa, southern Wajir, and localized areas of central Kenya. In late April and early May, heavy rainfall events resulted in around average March-May cumulative rainfall in Mandera, northern Wajir, western Marsabit, and eastern Turkana; however, rainfall distribution was poor. As a result, households face another below-average to failed harvest and poor rangeland resource recovery, reducing access to food and income. According to the NMME and WMO weather forecast models, there is a strong probability of a fifth consecutive below-average rainy season during the October-December 2022 short rains. However, the February-August long rains in western unimodal Kenya are likely to be average. 

    • In the pastoral areas, the March-May long rains have driven some slight but incomplete recovery of rangeland resources, with vegetation greenness less than 60 percent of the 2012-2021 average across Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River, Kwale, Taita Taveta, western Wajir, and western Garissa. The widespread poor vegetation conditions are keeping atypical migration high and livestock away from homesteads and in the dry season grazing areas. Livestock body conditions range from very poor to fair, with livestock mortalities continuing to be reported in Marsabit, Mandera, Turkana, and Wajir counties, driven by a combination of drought, disease, and the impact of sudden heavy rains on their weakened body state. Livestock milk production has remained around 60 percent below average in pastoral areas, with households consuming zero to 1.3 liters of milk per day, around 65 percent below average. 

    • In pastoral areas, the low household milk production and consumption is driving increased malnutrition rates, as evidenced by the Extremely Critical (GAM ≥30 percent) recorded in Mandera in a SMART Survey in March 2022. Food insecurity continues to rise, driven by declining goat-to-maize terms-of-trade as staple food prices increase, deteriorating livestock body conditions, declining herd sizes, and distressed livestock sales. Due to the continued loss of productive livelihood assets, atypically low livestock productivity and food access, and increasing malnutrition rates, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in Marsabit, Mandera, and Wajir.

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, the shortened growing window due to the late onset of rainfall and poor cumulative rainfall through May is likely to result in widespread poor to failed harvests in June. Following multiple past poor harvests, a delayed onset of rainfall, and poor rainfall distribution, the crop planted area is generally below average. Key informants report widespread wilting in Kilifi and Kitui, poor crop conditions in Kitui and Meru North, and widespread crop failure in Nyeri (Kieni). Crop infestations of Fall Army Worm have also been reported In Embu (Mbeere), while African armyworm infestations are being reported in Makueni and Tharaka Nithi. Most marginal agricultural areas are likely Stressed (IPC Phase 2) supported by stable access to income and average to above-average terms-of-trade (TOT). However, Kitui and Meru (Meru North) counties are likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) following consecutive poor harvests, below-average TOTs, and increasing food prices.

    • In April, staple food prices continued to rise in most monitored markets due to low market supply following four consecutive seasons of poor crop performance, high demand, and declining household food stocks. Maize prices are 12-46 percent above the five-year average in urban markets and 6-34 percent above the five-year average in the marginal and pastoral areas but were within average in Turkana, likely due to high maize prices in 2017 and 2018. Dry bean prices are 6-29 percent above the five-year averages due to the high demand and low availability of supplies. However, due to below-average body conditions, goat prices are 8-34 percent below the five-year average. Across marginal agricultural and pastoral areas, rising food prices limit household purchasing power and increase household reliance on coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to minimize food gaps.  

    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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