Kenya food security alert: As an already historic four-season drought leads to widespread need, a fifth bad season is now forecast, 10 May 2022 – Kenya
Marginal pastoral and agricultural areas in eastern and northern Kenya received only minimal rainfall during the long rainy season from March to May 2022, marking the fourth consecutive below-average season.
Widespread livestock mortality, minimal livestock productivity, very low cropping levels and steep declines in purchasing power are creating large gaps in food consumption and high levels of acute malnutrition among millions of households across the country. eastern and northern Kenya. FEWS NET expects 4-5 million people to require humanitarian food assistance, and while ongoing assistance is currently easing the severity of acute food insecurity, emergency (Phase 4 CPI) are increasingly likely as needs outstrip assistance levels. The current drought is already historic in its duration and severity, and forecasting models now signal a high probability that the short rainy season from October to December 2022 will also be below average1, paving the way for an unprecedented drought of five seasons. This will only increase the severity and scale of food assistance needs through 2023, and a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives and livelihoods.
Rainfall totals through April for the main season long rains were below 60% of the 40-year average across most of Kenya, with many parts of northern and eastern Kenya receiving less than 45% of the 40-year average. Rainfall in many areas did not begin until late April, when seasonal rainfall is usually at its peak. Short-term forecasts suggest that large deficits are likely to persist despite average to above-average rainfall in late April and early May, and most regions will end the season with rainfall amounts 25-75% below average .
In pastoral areas, vegetation greenness is significantly below the 2012-2021 average (Figure 1) and monitored waterholes range from empty to well below median depths. Data from Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel sites suggest much longer trek distances, and reports suggest that up to 1.5 million head of livestock, especially cattle and sheep, died between October 2021 and March 2022. County-level livestock mortality rates are above 12 percent, livestock herds dwindling. In addition to the small herd sizes, the amount of maize that can be purchased by selling a goat is around 10-50% less than typical, and at near record highs given the high prices. maize and the low value of livestock.
In addition, milk production from livestock, a key source of food and cash income for pastoralists, is 10 to 80 percent below average.
The overall decline in household food access is driving up levels of acute malnutrition, which exceed extremely critical levels (GAM WHZ ≥ 30%) in Mandera County according to a March 2022 UNICEF SMART survey, while monitoring of NDMA sentinel sites in Wajir County reported deaths. children under five due to complications from severe acute malnutrition.
In marginal agricultural areas, household food stocks are already depleted due to past poor seasons and household income from agricultural labor is lower than normal due to lower demand. Normally, poor households in these areas depend on agricultural production from the long rains to meet about 10 percent of their annual food needs, while the sale of crops, hired agricultural labor and the sale of livestock and livestock products provide income to purchase food. In addition to the low labor demand, the amount of maize a household can buy with the daily wage has decreased; maize and bean prices are 10 to 25 percent above average, contributing to goat-maize terms of trade 5 to 50 percent below average. Available data from NDMA sentinel sites suggest that households are increasingly applying consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies, such as reducing the number and size of meals, buying food on credit, sending household members to eat elsewhere, reducing health expenditures and consuming seed stocks. In addition, despite projections of average rainfall from February to August in western unimodal areas, high fuel and fertilizer prices are driving up production costs, which will likely result in below-average long-rains national production. , which will put additional upward pressure on food prices.
Ongoing humanitarian and livelihoods support through the Hunger Safety Net Program (HSNP) and HSNP emergency payouts are mitigating more severe acute food insecurity, and the Government of Kenya has released more than $33 million dollars for drought mitigation. However, the needs far outweigh the levels of assistance. The 2021/2022 Kenya Drought Flash Appeal remains at only 20% funded with only USD 28.5 million received out of the USD 139.5 million required.
Further deterioration is likely at least in early 2023 based on forecasts of a short, below-average rainy season from October to December 2022. Household purchasing power is likely to deteriorate further as labor opportunities Farm labor remains low, the value of livestock is falling and staple food prices are rising, the latter driven by low local production, local currency depreciation and rising global food prices. In the absence of scaled-up humanitarian food and livelihood assistance in pastoral areas, households are likely to lose or sell a significant proportion of their livestock – their main source of food and cash income – resulting in higher levels of acute food aid. insecurity and acute malnutrition and jeopardize the ability of households to recover in future seasons. An increasing number of pastoral households are likely to experience emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes despite ongoing assistance, with zonal-level emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely to occur. to appear by September. In marginal agricultural areas, households are somewhat cushioned by higher purchasing power, additional off-farm work opportunities, and relatively better animal husbandry conditions, allowing for higher milk production, but the subsequent very poor harvest will still result in widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) results. In northern and eastern Kenya, immediate action is needed to end the already widespread and severe acute food insecurity plaguing the country.