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The long rains harvest improves rural food security, but urban food insecurity persists

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • September 2020
The long rains harvest improves rural food security, but urban food insecurity persists

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Across the country, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes continue across most pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in areas with high crop and livestock production. In the previously flooded riverine zones of Tana River and Mandera, and the informal settlements of major cities, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present where below-average income-earning opportunities have limited household food access and driven households to increasingly apply consumption and livelihood coping strategies to meet minimal food needs.

    • According to international forecasts, La Niña conditions are favored through April 2021 in the northern hemisphere. The October-December 2020 short rains are most likely to be below average with above-average temperatures. The short rains are expected to briefly stabilize rangeland resources but begin deteriorating rapidly in January, driving worsening food security outcomes. However, localized areas of northwestern Kenya are likely to receive average rainfall. Although uncertainty exists with long-range forecasts, there is an elevated likelihood of below-average rainfall during the March-May 2021 season.

    • In August 2020, in the major urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, an urban food security assessment by WFP and IPC TWG reported 45-55 percent of households are experiencing moderate hunger per the Household Hunger Scale (HHS). About 57-65 percent of households reported engaging in livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes to obtain their minimum food needs. Acute food insecurity in the informal urban settlements is primarily driven by the loss of income and high food prices due to COVID-19 related impacts on income-earning opportunities and market supply.

    • Maize prices were 8-20 percent above average in Eldoret, Garissa, and Mandera due to low supplies in the markets due to continued slowdowns in the supply chain. However, prices ranged from within average to 13 percent below average across the rest of the monitored markets due to available supplies from the long rains harvests and neighboring source markets, including cross-border markets. Bean prices were within average in Nyeri, Kilifi, Taita Taveta due to available harvests and cross-border imports but remain 9-36 percent above average across most monitored markets and 80 percent above average in Eldoret due to limited supplies from below-average production.

    • In the marginal agricultural areas, the average to above-average long rains harvest is maintaining good food availability, along with income from crop sales and agricultural waged labor opportunities, driving short-term improvements to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through October. It is expected that households will begin facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in November as their household food stocks begin to dwindle typically, and households start relying on income from agricultural waged labor for market food purchases.

    • In the pastoral areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist along with seasonal declines in available rangeland resources. Return trekking distances from grazing areas to water sources are 13-42 percent below average, and livestock migration to dry-season grazing areas has stayed within counties except in Isiolo where there is outmigration to Laikipia. Milk production and consumption are 5-18 percent below average due to most livestock being in-gestation. However, the goat-to-maize terms of trade remain favorable, ranging from 10-24 percent above average across monitored markets, and within average in Wajir, facilitating average to above-average household food access.

    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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