Food Security Outlook Update

Food security to remain stable or improve slightly during March to May long rains

April 2016

April - May 2016

Kenya April 2016 Food Security Projections for April to May

June - September 2016

Kenya April 2016 Food Security Projections for June to September

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
Kenya - NDMA
WFP

Key Messages

  • Food security throughout most of Kenya will remain stable through at least June due to adequate food stocks from the previous season’s harvest, continued imports and expected upcoming harvest of long rains short-cycle crops. The long rains harvest projections are for an average harvest beginning in July due to average to above-average rainfall, partly influenced by El Niño, in central and western parts of the country though there have been rainfall deficits in other areas.   

  • In pastoral areas, the average to below-average long rains, will cause some improvements in household food consumption as regenerated rangeland resources support improved livestock productivity. Through September, the majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, localized households in areas with significant rainfall deficits over the last two seasons are likely to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September. 

  • In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, short-cycle long rains crops harvested in June, along with casual labor opportunities and intensified coping mechanisms, such as petty trading, are expected to allow households to maintain current levels of food access. Most households will remain in None (IPC Phase 1) through September, though some households are likely to move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by September. 

CURRENT SITUATION

After a late start, at the end of March and early April, the 2016 long rains are continuing across all parts of the country. The rains have been average to below average in cumulative amounts, except in some central and western parts, and have had poor temporal and spatial distribution. Specifically, eastern parts of the country have experienced substantial rainfall deficits (Figure 1).

Improvements in household food security are expected, albeit at moderate levels, in the pastoral livelihood zones. While average to below-average long rains have been experienced in these areas, the cumulative effects of the previous above-average short rains continues to support fair to good rangeland resources and livestock productivity. Most households, except for localized areas in Mandera, Isiolo and Wajir, maintained their livestock near their homesteads, which supported household food consumption and income from the livestock products. Parts of Mandera, Isiolo and Wajir have experienced substantial rainfall deficits in the current and previous short rains season and are reporting fair to poor rangeland and livestock body conditions, which has negatively affected household incomes and food consumption.

Retail maize prices remained stable. They were near or slightly below average across most markets between February and March due to increased inflows of food commodities from other parts of the country. The availability of other substitute commodities, like rice, lowered the demand for maize. Household food security has been aided by these stable staple food prices, which continue to support food access. Goat prices have remained stable or seasonally declined due to the typical deterioration of livestock body conditions during the February to March dry period and low market demand. However, livestock prices are still favorable and are up to 43 percent above the five-year average. Livestock-to-cereal terms of trade remain favorable too, being near average to above average in most markets. While some households remain in None (IPC Phase 1), the majority of pastoral households are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as they have few livestock units and are unable to raise sufficient income to meet food and non-food needs, like education and health care, from livestock sales and other income sources. There are limited on-farm casual labor opportunities. 

In the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, food security remains stable, following above-average crop production during the last short rains. Households are currently involved in either land preparation, planting or weeding. Some farmers in parts of Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi and Embu, who planted earlier in March, had to replant as crops dried up due to moisture stress. Crops are at various stages of development with maize mainly at germination to knee height. Availability of other staple crops like beans, cowpeas and green grams, from the previous season’s harvest, are supporting stable or declining staple food prices. Retail maize prices seasonally decreased six to 38 percent across most markets between February and March and remain below their five-year averages. Concerns remain on active cholera cases noted in parts of Meru and Tharaka Nithi, which could affect food access due to reported market closures in Tharaka North and Tharaka South. Nevertheless, due to the relatively stable food security outcomes in the area, the majority of households are in None (IPC Phase 1).

In the coastal marginal agricultural areas, household food security also remains stable. Though the region experienced a below-average short rains harvest, especially for maize, imports of maize from other areas and the availability of other food commodities like cassava, beans, vegetables, cowpeas and green grams have ensured adequate supplies. The availability of on- and off-farm casual labor opportunities have provided households with income to support market purchases. Stability in staple food prices since the beginning of the year, supported by the inflows from Tanzania and other parts of Kenya, has boosted market access. Most households are currently involved in long rains season land preparation and planting, albeit late, due to the late start of the rains. Floods in parts of Kwale earlier in April affected about 3,700 households, through displacements of populations, destruction to farms and household properties. Regardless, the majority of households remain in None (IPC Phase 1) due to stable food security outcomes. 

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the Kenya Food Security Outlook for February to September 2016 remain unchanged, except for:  

  •  The March to May long rains have been characterised by a late onset, have poor spatial and temporal distribution, and have largely been average to below average in cumulative amounts.

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2016

Long rains crop production prospects points to an average harvest beginning in July in the high and medium rainfall areas. An average harvest is projected despite the erratic rains currently being experienced and the challenges of farm input access due to late delivery and inadequacy.   

In pastoral areas, between April and June, household food security is expected to seasonally improve as the long rains support improved rangeland, livestock body conditions and livestock productivity. Kidding, lambing and calving activities are expected to be normal, following previous favorable seasons during conception. This is likely to result in improved milk production, which will further supplement household food consumption. Beginning in May, livestock prices are expected to increase and livestock-related casual labor opportunities will rise. As a result, household income is expected to increase from livestock and livestock product sales and labor-earning potential. While some households will be in None (IPC Phase 1), the majority of households will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June due to insufficient household income to meet food and non-food needs. The below-average performance of the long rains is likely to trigger an earlier than normal onset of the dry season in July instead of August. The faster than normal depletion of rangeland resources will affect livestock productivity and trigger households to move their livestock to dry season grazing areas earlier than normal. Household income is expected to decline between July and September as livestock prices and casual labor opportunities decline, constraining market purchase and consumption at the household level. While the majority of households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), some households in parts of Mandera, Isiolo and Wajir, who have experienced significant rainfall deficits over the last two seasons, are likely to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by September.

In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, household food consumption is expected to remain stable through June supported by income from on- and off-farm casual labor opportunities and the availability of some short-cycle long rains harvested crops. The majority of households are expected to remain in None (IPC Phase 1). From July through September, household food access is expected to seasonally wane as household food stocks are depleted, market reliance increases and staple food prices typically increase due to supply draw-down. The long rains crop harvest from July onwards is expected to be below average. The reduced availability of income-earning opportunities during the lean season will limit market purchases by the majority of poor households. As a result, households will intensify the use of coping mechanisms, including petty trading, sand harvesting, charcoal burning and labor out-migration, to bridge the income gaps. While some households are expected to move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), the majority of households will remain in None (IPC Phase 1) through September. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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