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- The October to December short rains started on time across most of the country, with localized areas recording an effective start of the season 10 days early to 10 days later than normal. As of November 20, cumulative rainfall across much of the country is over 150 percent of the 40-year average, with rainfall over 300 percent of the 40-year average in Mandera, driven by prevailing El Niño conditions. Flooding has affected at least 19 of the country’s 47 counties, with Mombasa, Mandera, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, and Marsabit the most affected counties. Estimates by humanitarian agencies indicate the widespread flooding has resulted in at least 50 human fatalities and displaced around 136,000 people. According to OCHA, humanitarian partners are working with the government to respond to the floods and have reached around 950,000 people in affected counties with food assistance. In the medium to long term, the impact of the floods will likely be mixed as households recover their livelihoods, replant crops, and livestock benefit from the atypically good rangeland resources. However, there is an increased risk of water and vector-borne diseases for humans and livestock.
- Staple food prices remain atypically high, driven by high demand, high fuel and marketing costs, and the depreciation of the KES. In October, maize prices ranged from average in Lamu to nearly 95 percent above the five-year average, with prices highest in Nithi, West Pokot, and Nyeri (Kieni). Dry bean prices are also elevated and around 15 to 80 percent higher than the five-year average in most areas, but prices are nearly 120 percent higher than the five-year average in the Mombasa and Eldoret markets due to lower-than-normal cross-border imports from Tanzania and Uganda and low local availability. In the pastoral areas, livestock prices are around 15 to 50 percent above the five-year average, with prices 75-90 percent higher than the five-year average in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa due to improving rangeland resources and livestock body conditions and lower supply as pastoral households seek to recover their herd sizes.
- In the pastoral areas, poor households are slowly recovering from the impacts of the historic drought, with most households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. The above-average rainfall is improving water and forage resources, with most monitored water points higher than the long-term median. Pasture and forage conditions are also recovering with the above-average rainfall. However, vegetation conditions are below average in localized areas along Lake Turkana but are expected to improve through the rainy season. Livestock body conditions are improving and range from fair to good, with good to very good livestock conditions in Marsabit and Wajir. Milk production, an important source of food and income, is recovering and is largely similar to well above the three-year average in pastoral areas, but households in NDMA sentinel sites in Samburu are reporting an average of 0.1 liters per household per day due to low herd sizes. In the coming months, the positive impacts of the rains are expected to support area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes; however, flood-impacted households that have lost assets will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
- Across the marginal agricultural areas, households are earning near-average income from agricultural waged labor opportunities such as weeding and spraying, which, in addition to the good rains, is driving a slightly above-average area planted under food crops. The food crops are in good condition and at various developmental stages, ranging from knee-high in maize, sorghum, and millet to early flowering in beans and green grams. However, in areas that continue to receive heavy rainfall, such as Meru (Meru North) and Embu (Mbeere), the excess moisture is impeding the growth of legumes such as beans. Most households remain reliant on market purchases, but the unusually high staple food prices are limiting household purchasing power, driving widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Key Message Update November 2023: Flooding and high staple food prices are constraining drought recovery in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, 2023.
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.