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Pastoral areas remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the pastoral lean season concludes

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • September 2023
Pastoral areas remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the pastoral lean season concludes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Forage and water resources are seasonally declining in the pastoral areas, increasing the return trekking distances for people and livestock. However, the distances traveled remain largely shorter than in the past few years except in Turkana, Samburu, and Garissa, where households and livestock travel around 20 percent further than the five-year average. Pastoral households continue to engage in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to minimize food consumption gaps as household milk consumption slowly recovers. However, Wajir and Turkana households consume around 20 to 35 percent more milk than during the last three years of drought. High maize prices continue to limit household purchasing power, but goat-to-maize terms of trade are improving as goat prices increase as households limit sales to improve livestock herd sizes. This is driving the goat-to-maize terms-of-trade to 22 percent above the five-year average in Mandera, similar to the five-year average in Garissa and Isiolo, but it remains around 10 to 35 percent below the five-year average across the rest of the pastoral areas. Overall, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing in most pastoral areas, but outcomes are largely expected to improve through the forecast of above-average October to December short rains. 
    • Across the marginal agricultural areas, land preparation and planting for the October to December short rains are ongoing in the southeastern marginal agricultural livelihood zones. However, in the coastal marginal agricultural livelihood zones, the long rains maize crop harvest is also taking place. The harvest in the coastal marginal agricultural livelihood zones is expected to be above average except in Taita Taveta, where the harvest was significantly below average due to poor temporal distribution of rainfall. Poor households in the southeastern marginal agricultural livelihood zones and Taita Taveta are relying on market food purchases primarily for food. However, household purchasing power and food access remain constrained by below-average incomes from agricultural waged labor and crop sales, driving households to increasingly engage in off-own farm income activities such as petty trade and sale of firewood and charcoal to narrow the income gaps. With limited food stocks and constrained access to food, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are ongoing in most marginal agricultural areas, with the worst affected households likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 
    • Fuel prices hit historically high levels on September 15, with petrol retailing at around 212 KES (~1.43 USD), diesel at 201 KES (~1.36 USD), and Kerosene at 203 KES (~1.37 USD) per litre in Nairobi, a 9 to 20 percent increase since mid-August. The high prices are being driven by higher landing costs of fuel, increases in value-added tax, and the removal of subsidies on petroleum products. The increased fuel prices are already driving up the costs of food and non-food commodities due to the increased production and transportation costs, negatively impacting household purchasing power across the country.
    • Staple food prices remain high, driven by atypically low market availability following successive below-average production seasons, high-priced cross-border imports from Tanzania and Uganda, and the high marketing costs due to increasing fuel prices. In August, the wholesale maize prices in the urban reference markets of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret were around 30 to 40 percent higher than the five-year average. Similarly, bean wholesale prices in the urban reference markets are 50 to 60 percent higher than the five-year average, with prices in Mombasa around 120 percent above average due to high demand and low local availability. In the retail markets, maize prices ranged from similar to the five-year average to around 100 percent above the five-year average in monitored markets, constraining household access to food, with bean prices around 20 to 75 percent higher than the five-year average. Livestock prices also remain high as households continue to minimize sales to rebuild their herd sizes, with a mature medium-sized goat retailing around 10 to 55 percent above the five-year average. Overall, the high food prices are limiting household purchasing power, particularly for market-dependent households. 
    • Climate forecasts indicate that the October to December short rains in northern and eastern Kenya will likely have an early onset and be cumulatively above average, supported by a strong El Niño event. The rains are expected to improve forage, pasture, and water resources in pastoral areas, supporting livestock body conditions and conception rates as households work to recover their herd sizes. In the marginal agricultural areas, the above-average rainfall is expected to support crop production, improving household access to income from agricultural labor opportunities and crop sales following a likely above-average harvest. However, there is an elevated risk that the above-average rainfall will result in flooding in the flood-prone parts of the country and outbreaks of diseases like Rift Valley Fever in pastoral areas. Floods and flash floods will likely result in localized shocks such as the loss of human lives and livestock, displacement of households, and the destruction of cropland, homes, and infrastructure, which will likely disrupt livelihood activities and essential services and utilities. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Key Message Update September 2023: Pastoral areas remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the pastoral lean season concludes, 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.

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