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Varied rainfall impacts in pastoral and cropping areas as long rains come to an end

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • May 2024
Varied rainfall impacts in pastoral and cropping areas as long rains come to an end

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The March to May onset of long rains was in average ranges, except in parts of the Rift Valley and northeastern part of Kenya where the rainfall onset was around 10 days late, with localized areas experiencing an onset of almost a month late. Despite a delayed start, cumulative rainfall has been near to above average across the country, with most of the country receiving rainfall ranging from 115 to above 145 percent of the average. However, the coastal, western, northern, and eastern parts of Kenya received average, and localized parts of coastal and western Kenya received slightly lower than average. According to short-range forecasts through early June, rainfall is expected to follow typical trends, falling only in western and coastal Kenya, with none expected in the eastern parts of the country.
    • Severe flooding occurred across the country, especially in flood-prone and riverine areas, from early May due to the high-intensity rains in April and high soil moisture content accumulated over consecutive above-average rainfall seasons since the 2023 March to May long rains. According to a report by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), the flooding occurred in 43 counties, affected about 82,000 households, and displaced about 49,000. The floods have resulted in an estimated 300 human fatalities, destroyed 61,000 acres of cropland, and resulted in 11,300 livestock deaths. In particular, affecting the Nairobi, Kisumu, Mandera, Garissa, and Tana River areas, where about 60 percent of the total flood-affected households are located. The Kenyan government has evacuated people living in riparian areas, a majority of whom are urban poor, increasing the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in IDP camps, schools, and other makeshift shelters. According to an early May report by UNOCHA, the national and county governments, together with humanitarian agencies, have provided humanitarian assistance in the form of food and non-food items, reaching approximately 480,000 flood-affected people across the country.
    • Staple food prices continue to decline due to the availability of short rains production, the above-average unimodal production from areas of the North Rift and western Kenya, and imports from Uganda and Tanzania. However, the high marketing costs driven by high fuel prices are lessening the expected seasonal decline in food prices. In April, maize prices were within the five-year averages in Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, Kajiado, and Laikipia. In the rest of the country, maize prices were between six to 33 percent above the five-year average; except in Kwale, Embu, and Meru, where the prices were six to 23 percent below the five-year average following average to slightly above average short rains production. Across the country, the price of beans was seven to 41 percent above the five-year average due to low harvests following below-average short rains production. Overall, the seasonal decline in staple food prices is improving household access to food. 
    • In marginal agricultural areas, crop performance has been varied. In the Southeast, where rainfall has been above average, maize is at the tasseling and grain-filling stages but in poor condition due to waterlogging and leaching of key nutrients from recent flooding. Pulses such as beans and green grams are at the podding stage, but a poor harvest is expected due to excessive moisture during the vegetative and flowering stages. In the Coastal marginal agricultural areas, where rainfall has been average to below average, maize crops are at tasseling and grain-filling stages, and pulses are at podding stages. However, in Kilifi, maize is below knee-high and experiencing moisture stress, and pulse planting did not occur due to poor rainfall performance. Across the country, a slightly to moderately below-average long rains production harvest is expected. Household food stocks from the short rains production and income from the sale of crops are gradually declining. However, agricultural wage labor opportunities during weeding and spraying are narrowing income deficits, supporting household purchasing capacities, and allowing households to maintain minimal reliance on the markets for food. Consequently, most households continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 
    • In pastoral areassatellite-monitored water points indicate that water levels are above the long-term average levels, except in northern Marsabit and northern Turkana, where levels were between 50 – 100 percent of the long-term average. Vegetation greenness, as indicated by the Normalized Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI), is average to above-average, except in localized parts of Tana River, Marsabit, Turkana, and coastal Kenya, where it is less than 90 percent of normal. April NDMA early warning bulletins indicate that livestock body conditions are good across most counties. However, in Turkana, West Pokot, and Tana River, body conditions for cattle are only fair due to less favorable forage conditions. Overall, improved body conditions are improving milk production trends. Milk production is average, except in Baringo, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, and Turkana, where it is above the five-year average due to more complete livestock recovery. Household purchasing power, indicated by goat-to-maize terms of trade, is above the five-year average in Garissa, Turkana, and Wajir and more than twice the average across the rest of the country. Despite favorable terms of trade, low livestock herd sizes constrain household purchasing power. In most pastoral areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected until September. However, in flood-affected areas, particularly Garissa, Tana River, and Mandera counties, households face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and need humanitarian assistance. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Key Message Update May 2024: Varied rainfall impacts in pastoral and cropping areas as long rains come to an end, 2024.

    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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