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The drought is reducing livestock productivity and significantly delaying cropping activities

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • November 2021
The drought is reducing livestock productivity and significantly delaying cropping activities

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • According to CHIRPS satellite data, as of November 20, the October to December short rains are 60-110 percent of the 40-year average in the unimodal western areas of Kenya, but less than 30-60 percent of the 40-year average in northern and eastern Kenya. Across the eastern pastoral and coastal districts, the season currently ranks as one of the driest recorded. Based on CHIRPS estimates, GEFS forecast, and median rainfall in analog years, cumulative rainfall is likely to be less than 45 percent of average in northern and eastern Kenya. Additionally, based on historical analogs, there is around a 70 percent likelihood that the March to May long rains will be below-average. 

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, a false onset of rainfall in Nyeri (Kieni), Makueni, and Meru North resulted in the germination of dry planted crops, but the following dry spell led to moisture stress and widespread withering of the crop. Due to the late-onset and significantly below average cumulative rains, most marginal agricultural households have not planted their crops, particularly in Makueni, Taita Taveta, and Kilifi counties. A failed season is likely across much of these areas as the typical peak rainfall period passes.  Households are increasingly depending on non-agricultural wage labor, firewood and charcoal sales, and increased livestock sales for income in the absence of typical agricultural wage labor opportunities. Households are increasing their reliance on humanitarian assistance from national and county governments, NGOs, and humanitarian agencies, along with school meal programs to minimize food consumption gaps. An increasing number of households are likely engaging in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3), although area-level acute food insecurity outcomes remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • In the pastoral areas, forage and water resources continue to deteriorate due to the drought. Livestock return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources are 16-28 percent above the three-year average and double the three-year average in Marsabit. Livestock productivity continues to deteriorate, with livestock body conditions being reported as poor for all species. Milk production is around 1 liter per household per day, around 30-69 percent of the three-year average. Sectoral interventions such as water trucking and the delivery of livestock feed from national and county governments, NGOs, and humanitarian agencies are helping stem further deterioration of livestock body conditions despite livestock deaths being reported in Taita Taveta and Garissa. Humanitarian assistance in the form of cash transfers from both government and non-governmental agencies is helping supplement household income for market purchases; however, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist.  

    • Maize prices in October were 7-37 percent above average in Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa due to sustained demand, and 9-35 percent above average in the pastoral areas due to increased demand for human and livestock consumption. However, maize prices are at average levels for October in the Nairobi, Turkana, and the marginal areas, driven by the availability of cross-border imports from Tanzania and Uganda and maize supplies from Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties. Bean prices are 8-50 percent above the five-year average across the country due to sustained high demand and low household stocks following four consecutive below-average production seasons. In the northern and eastern pastoral areas, goat prices in October are 9-26 percent lower than the 2016-2020 average due to deteriorating body conditions driven by atypically low availability of rangeland resources.

    • The easing of COVID-19 restrictions on transportation and the removal of the national curfew continues to slowly improve income-earning opportunities for poor urban households. However, slow economic activity recovery is resulting in urban poor households continuing to rely on coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to minimize food consumption gaps. Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, around 4.1 million people have received at least one vaccine dose, well below the government target of 10 million fully vaccinated individuals by January 2022. To increase vaccination rates, the government announced on November 21 that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for individuals seeking in-person government services from December 21. This is likely to impact unvaccinated people obtaining business permits, immigration documents, and tax remittances, likely constraining household income-earning opportunities.

    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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