Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

Atypical high food insecurity expected through September

February 2017 to September 2017

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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
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

  • According to the January 2017 Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) short rains assessment, which included FEWS NET, large areas of the country are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food security outcomes and atypical high food assistance needs, mainly in the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, following the poor October – December 2016 rainy season. 

  • An atypical deterioration of acute food insecurity is expected in the majority of pastoral areas, including northwestern, northeastern, northern, and southeastern regions between February and April, with many poor households likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes. There is also the possibility that some localized poor households in parts of Marsabit, Turkana, Samburu, and Garissa could experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in the absence of emergency food assistance, especially during the February to April and July to September periods.

  • Additionally, while many northern pastoral areas of Kenya have frequently experienced “Critical” levels of acute malnutrition in recent years, the “Critical” and “Extremely Critical” levels of acute malnutrition currently observed in northern areas are very important to note for response purposes.

  • Coastal and southeastern marginal agricultural areas are also expected to experience an atypical decline in food security due to the significantly below-average short rains crop production, depleted food stocks, and reduced on-farm casual labor opportunities. Some households in parts of Kilifi and Lamu are projected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes through April, and between July and September, while the other marginal agricultural areas will likely remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. 

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

Nationally, food security is gradually declining, as food commodities’ supply to the markets dwindle, while market demand continue to increase. The dwindling supplies are a result of the below-average 2016 crop production, from both the long and short rain harvests, and reduced regional imports from neighboring countries that also had below-average production. FEWS NET estimates that 2016 long rains maize production was about 2.6 million metric tons, which is up to 10 percent below the five-year average. For the 2016 short rains crop production, the poor rains severely affected cropping activities, and the Kenya State Department of Agriculture (SDA) projects that maize production is likely to be up to 70 percent below the five-year average, at 0.15 million metric tons. As a result, the reduced supplies into the markets are already being reflected in staple food price increases across most markets. An analysis of wholesale maize prices across the major urban consumption markets of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret reveal that between October 2016 and January 2017, prices have increased by up to 10 percent. January wholesale prices were up 18 percent above the 2012/16 average. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, between February 2016 and February 2017, the food and non-alcoholic drinks index increased by 16.5 percent, mainly attributed to increases in the price of vegetables, dairy products, and cereals/grains, due partly from lower production of these commodities, against a sustained high demand.

Reflecting the substantial decline in food security, the KFSSG short rains assessment that was conducted in 23 counties in January 2017 estimated that a total of 2.6 million people are acutely food insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance, mainly in Kenya’s pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. This represents an increase in needs by about 100 percent from the last long rains assessment in July 2016.   

In the southeastern marginal mixed farming zone, the October – December 2016 short rains started about a month late, around mid-November, and were below average, marked by poor temporal and spatial distribution. The majority of areas received between 50 and 90 percent of normal rainfall, except for a large part of Tharaka Nithi and Kitui South that received 90 to 110 percent of normal rainfall. The season ended early, ranging from one to four weeks, except in Meru North where it was timely. The zone is largely dependent on the short rains, which account for up to 70 percent of annual output. Crop production was generally poor in the zone with an 83 percent reduction in maize production in Tharaka Nithi and Nyeri (Kieni), and an 89 percent reduction in both Makueni and Kitui, attributed to the poor performance of the rains, especially due to its temporal distribution. The reduced crop production has significantly reduced on-farm casual labor opportunities, reducing household income and increasing reliance on other non-farm casual labor opportunities and petty trading. Between October 2016 and January 2017, retail maize prices across representative markets of Kitui, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, and Nyeri have increased by 10 – 20 percent. January prices were five to 27 percent above respective five-year averages. Increased demand from households due to depleted household stocks, against dwindling market supplies, has resulted in the price increases. Bean prices have also continued to gradually increase as supplies are drawn down. Between October 2016 and January 2017, bean prices have increased by up to 15 percent across these markets and remain up to 11 percent above respective five-year averages.

Between October 2016 and January 2017, the proportion of children “at risk” of malnutrition measured by Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) < 135mm from the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel sites, increased by six, seven, and 112 percent in Kitui, Tharaka Nithi and Nyeri, respectively, while over the same period, it reduced by 11 and 20 percent in Embu and Makueni, respectively. It is important to mention that these areas have low proportions of children being “at risk” of malnutrition, ranging between five and 10 percent of children. So the increases and decreases in proportions observed between October and January ought to be understood within this context. The increase in cases reported in Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, and Nyeri could be due to a drop in milk consumption and lack of leguminous foods rich in proteins for consumption at the household level. The drops in ‘at risk’ cases in Embu and Makueni, where January 2017 levels were also up to 40 percent below five-year averages, could be attributed to nutrition interventions and the consumption of cowpeas and green grams from the short rains harvest.

Incidences of insecurity due to cattle rustling and banditry have limited access to pasture and browse in Meru North Sub- County, while human-wildlife conflicts were reported in Tigania East and West sub-counties, involving elephants from Imenti Forest in search of better forage. In Mwingi North Sub-county of Kitui County, there was also conflict between farmers and pastoralists, who had moved from Tana River and Garissa counties, over forage. Due to poor crop production, low household stocks, and reduced household purchasing power, the majority of poor households are able to meet their essential food needs by engaging in reversible coping strategies, but are unable to afford non-food needs and remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

In the coastal marginal mixed farming zone, there was massive crop failure for maize, cowpeas, cassava, and green grams, and production is expected to drop by 95, 88, 93, and 84 percent, respectively, compared to the five-year average. The reduced crop production has led to a 70 – 90 percent drop in on-farm casual labor income opportunities, significantly constraining purchasing power for poor households. Retail maize prices in January were above average in Kwale, Kilifi, and Lamu, while being near average in Taita Taveta, due to reduced cross-border imports and depleted household stocks. As a result of the below-average short rains seasonal performance, the majority of poor households can only meet their minimum food requirements and are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, localized parts of Kilifi are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), following two consecutive near total crop failure seasons, which has left poor households with no food stocks and limited incomes to support food access. There are also water and forage shortages, especially in the livestock-holding areas, which has resulted in poor cattle body conditions, significantly lowering milk production. (See the area of concern section for more details.) 

Pastoral areas, including northwestern (Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo), northeastern (Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo), northern (Marsabit), southeastern (Garissa, Tana River), and southern (Narok, Kajiado) regions, continue to experience an atypical decline in household food security, a situation that started even before the October – December 2016 short rains. The shorts rains, which were largely between 50 – 90 percent of normal, exacerbated dry conditions, following the longer and drier than normal June – October period (see Figure 1). As a result, forage and water resources had a below-normal recovery, and the current prevailing warmer-than-normal land surface temperatures have further accelerated depletion. While rangeland conditions vary from region to region, ranging from fair to poor, certain areas are experiencing exceptionally severe forage and water deficits, including parts of North Horr and Laisamis in Marsabit, northern parts of Turkana (Todonyang and Nadapal), eastern parts of Turkana (Kapedo and Lomelo), Garissa (Ladgera, Balambala, Modogashe, Sankuri, Dadaab, Warsame, Sangole, and parts of Ijara), Tana River (Chifiri, Titila, Hakoka, Wayu, Bura, and Assa, Kone), Mandera (Shimbir Fatuma, Burmayo, and Guticha-Jiko), and northern parts of West Pokot and Baringo (East Pokot). As a result, pastoralists in these areas moved close to 80 percent of their livestock to dry season grazing areas, and earlier than usual. In some instances, pastoralists had decided to keep their livestock in the dry season fields even before the onset of the short rains, constraining household income and milk production and consumption. Mass migration of livestock into areas outside of the pastoral areas were also reported: from Turkana and West Pokot into Uganda; from West Pokot into Trans Nzoia; from Isiolo and Samburu into Mt. Kenya and Nyandarua; from Narok and Kajiado into areas of Naivasha and Nakuru; from Narok to Tanzania; from Kajiado into Nairobi; from Marsabit to Ethiopia; and from Garissa into Tharaka Nithi and into Somalia.

Due to depleted forage and water, livestock mortalities have been reported, with some areas in northern Marsabit reporting sheep and goat mortalities of between 10 – 15 percent, for the herds left behind, according to the KFSSG short rains assessment estimation. However, livestock mortalities across other pastoral areas, according to the assessment team, remain at less than five percent of the total livestock population, but likely to increase as the drier-than-usual conditions continue prevailing. Even so, the five percent mortality rates are above the normal thresholds of two to three percent. Average pastoral return trekking distances to water sources from grazing fields are currently above average, being 10 –  20 km compared to a normal of five to 10 km. However, areas mentioned above are experiencing exceptionally higher trekking distances, of up to 40 km. Consequently, livestock body conditions are fair to poor, across all species, and likely to continue deteriorating. In some instances, access to forage and water was limited by insecurity, forcing livestock to seek alternative sources far away from typical grazing fields. Insecurity along the international borders, especially with South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Somalia inhibited access to grazing fields. Inter-county conflicts in Baringo – West Pokot, Marsabit – Wajir, Isiolo – Marsabit, and Samburu – Laikipia borders also hindered access to grazing fields. 

Due to the poor rangeland conditions and livestock body conditions, productivity has also been affected. Household milk production has declined by up to 60 percent, and ranges from 0 – 2 liters per day, compared to one to four liters per day normally. Notably, some areas were reporting zero milk production, especially in Turkana and parts of Marsabit, with households purely relying on powdered milk, which was only affordable to a few households. Consequently, milk prices have increased and ranged from KES 50 – 100, relative to a normal of KES 40 – 60 per liter. The declining livestock prices against increasing staple food prices are eroding households’ purchasing abilities. Currently, goat-to-cereals terms of trade are unfavorable, with pastoral households able to purchase less maize with the sale of a goat (see Figure 2).

The KFSSG assessment team found that the majority of pastoral households were atypically consuming one meal a day compared to a normal of one to two meals a day, comprising mainly of cereals, oil/fat, and occasionally milk, pulses, and meat.  Households have atypically intensified coping mechanisms to support food consumption. These include: skipping meals, reducing meal portion sizes, relying on less preferred and/or cheaper foods, borrowing food or relying on help from neighbors, friends, and relatives; and restricting consumption by adults so children can eat. Due to reduced food access and availability at the household level, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) has increased. According to the Kenya Nutrition Information Working Group (NIWG) analysis during the 2016 short rains assessment, GAM outcomes range from “Serious” (GAM weight-for-height z-score measurements, WHZ, 10.0 – 14.9 percent) in Tana River; to “Critical” (GAM WHZ 15.0 – 29.9 percent) in parts of Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana (south, east, and central), and Isiolo; and finally to “Extremely Critical” (GAM WHZ ≥ 30 percent) in Turkana (north), Marsabit (north), and Mandera counties (see Figure 3). The worsening nutritional status is largely the result of poor dietary intake and the high incidence of disease. This is compounded by the chronic challenges of these areas, such as limited access to quality health services, poor water, sanitation, and hygiene, and inappropriate childcare and feeding practices, which increases susceptibility to acute malnutrition. Even though some of these northern pastoral areas over the last several years recorded “Critical” or worse levels of acute malnutrition, these current levels of acute malnutrition are still very important to note for response purposes.

While most households in these areas remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), some are increasingly experiencing food gaps and are not able to sustain their minimum food needs without engaging in irreversible coping, and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), especially in parts of Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, West Pokot, Baringo, Tana River, Garissa, and Marsabit. 

It is important to note, the pastoral areas have received some off-season rains, beginning in mid-February, and these have resulted in some recharge of a few localized open water sources, albeit at less than 20 percent of their carrying capacities, but still providing some temporary reprieve. At a time when depletion of most water sources continues to be severe, which affects livestock and domestic access to water, it is beneficial. However, as of the end of February, the rains have not led to the emergence of needed pasture yet in most areas. (This section of the report highlights current conditions across all the pastoral areas, but with less focus on northeastern pastoral zone, which is discussed is another section of the report.)

The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), implemented by the NDMA, has doubled its beneficiary caseloads, beginning in November 2016. Currently, about 66,000 households are covered under the emergency phase, in the four counties of Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir, and Mandera, with each household receiving USD 26 monthly. Other partners, like the World Food Programme (WFP) and Kenya Red Cross, are also implementing cash transfer programs to facilitate household food purchases for vulnerable households in both pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, and there are plans for these to continue through July 2017. The scale of pledged funding to date is likely to positively impact food security outcomes, However, given the current level of information on county coverage rates and beneficiaries for these programs, including uncertainty on its implementation with respect to timing, procurements, logistics, and accessibility issues, it is difficult to determine the exact level of impact of this emergency assistance; and as a result, these programs were not included in FEWS NET’s analysis.

Besides ongoing emergency assistance in Turkana, the extensive safety net assistance that is being distributed in this County, which is planned, funded and expected to continue through at least the end of 2017, is mitigating the severity of food security outcomes. Currently about 110,000 poor households, which roughly equates to about half of the population in Turkana County, are benefitting from various cash transfer programs, including the Hunger Safety Net (HSNP), and other cash programs that are specifically targeted for very vulnerable populations, including Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Older Persons (OP), and Persons with Severe Disabilities (PWSD). In addition, other programs, like Food For Assets, Social Safety Nets, and relief food distributions from the County and the national government are also supporting food access and consumption.

In Kenya’s Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, acute food insecurity continues to deteriorate. In Dadaab refugee camp, confusions over the status of the fast approaching deadline for the camp closure is affecting normal refugee assistance operations. While the Government of Kenya had planned to close down the camp by May 2017, repatriating all the refugees back to Somalia by then, a recent order by a Kenyan court instructing the Government to suspend the repatriation exercise has fuelled uncertainty about whether the camp will close. Tension remains high in the camp, as humanitarian support remains scaled down. In Kakuma refugee camp, influxes of South Sudanese refugees, fleeing from conflict, continue to exert pressure on the limited humanitarian support resources, with more refugee populations facing acute food consumption gaps. Note, that FEWS NET’s analysis does not cover refugee populations in Kenya. 

Assumptions

The following assumptions have been made at the national level:

  • According to Kenya’s State Department of Agriculture estimates, the 2016 long rains crop harvest completed in January 2017, for the Western and Rift Valley, is likely to be up to 10 percent below average, estimated at about 2.7 million metric tons (MMT).
  • According to FEWS NET projections, the total 2016 short rains maize crop production is likely to be up to 70 percent below average in the marginal agricultural areas, following the poor short rains. Estimates of 0.15 million metric tons (MMT) for the short rains are likely.
  • According to NOAA/CPC, ENSO neutral conditions are expected to extend at least until May 2017 as La Niña conditions dissipate. The forecast for the March May long rains indicates normal to below-normal rainfall in the eastern parts of Kenya. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the season is likely to have an erratic onset and poor temporal and spatial distribution.
  • According to the Kenya Meteorological Department and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the main rains (February to August) in unimodal (western) areas of Kenya are forecast to be average to above average.  
  • Following the significantly below-average short rains, with some areas receiving only up to 25 percent of normal rainfall, rangeland resources across most areas atypically replenished, and are likely to be depleted faster than normal, especially in the northwestern, northern, and northeastern pastoral areas of Kenya, between February and April. Following the resumption of the long rains in April, rangeland resources are expected to regenerate, but at below-normal levels, following atypical degradation from the previous below-average rain seasons, and would again be expected to deplete much faster than normal during the July to September long dry period. 
  • Preliminary forecasts by FEWS NET/USGS/NOAA point toward warmer-than-normal land surface temperatures (LSTs) during the dry period between February and April 2017 across most parts of Kenya.
  • Across most pastoral and marginal agricultural areas, water availability is expected to seasonally decrease from now until mid-March, increasing water stress for both humans and livestock in the zone. Currently ongoing water-related interventions, like water trucking, are expected to be needed until the March – May long rains partially recharge water sources, temporarily easing water shortages. From July, water scarcity is expected to set in earlier than normal and last through at least September.
  • The expected near-normal March – May long rains, especially in the western parts of the country, will likely result in a near-average long rains crop harvest in the typically surplus-producing areas. However, in the marginal agricultural areas, in eastern sides of the country, the forecast for normal-to-below normal rains, is likely to result in a below-average long rains crop harvest, which will unlikely help households replenish depleted food stocks, at typical levels. As a result, food stocks are likely to remain below typical levels throughout the outlook period, especially in the marginal agricultural areas. 
  • Maize prices in the representative urban consumption markets of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret, are expected to atypically increase through mid-2017, as supplies from the previous season’s below-average harvest are drawn down and regional import levels are lower, amidst atypically high demand from households. Following the near-total crop failure for the short rains maize crop from the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, maize stock replenishment in the markets from the short rains harvest is not expected. FEWS NET’s technical projections for the major urban market of Nairobi indicates that maize prices are expected to range between KES 3,000 – 3,800 for a 90-kg bag between February and June, but ease a bit from July as some harvest (South Rift harvest) starts becoming available, and from imports from southern Tanzania. Maize prices, throughout the scenario period, are expected to remain above their respective five-year averages, ranging between 10 – 25 percent above five-year averages.
  • Staple food commodity imports, mainly maize and beans, to Kenya from Tanzania and Uganda are expected to continue but at much lower levels due to below-average harvests in those two countries. In addition to the 39,350 MT imported in the last half of 2016, only about 32,000 MT of maize is expected to be imported from Uganda in the first half of 2017, resulting in about a 91,000 MT (57 percent) shortfall in the estimated 161,350 MT projected to be imported into Kenya during the July 2016 to June 2017 marketing period. Likewise, in addition to the 158,696 MT imported in the last half of 2016, only about 100,000 MT of maize is expected to be imported from Tanzania in the first half of 2017, resulting in about a 100,000 MT (27 percent) shortfall in the estimated 358,696 MT projected to be imported into Kenya during the July 2016 to June 2017 marketing period.
  • According to the State Department of Agriculture’s Food Security Report for December 2016, the national maize stocks stood at 1.62 million metric tons. An analysis of the total available maize stocks from the 2016 long and short rains harvest and cross-border imports against their utilization by different actors (manufacturers, consumers), and taking into account potential post-harvest losses, indicate the available maize stocks will last through the end of May 2017, with a surplus of 0.25 million metric tons thereafter. After May 2017, continued imports are expected to continue ensuring adequate stock availability through the end of the scenario period, but exact statistics will only be provided at a later date by the State Department of Agriculture.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

The national food security situation is expected to remain fairly stable, through at least through May, as a steady supply of most staple food commodities in the markets continue, albeit at a slightly lower scale. Reduced inflows from across the borders and a below-average 2016 cropping season has resulted in a marginal decline in the availability of most staple food commodities in the markets, against a sustained high demand by households. FEWS NET estimates that total maize production from both the 2016 long and short rains is about 2.8 million metric tons, representing about a 20 percent reduction from the five-year average. The maize supply is expected to be limited in East Africa in 2017 as a result of below- average harvests across most countries. In response, maize prices in Kenya are expected to gradually increase through mid-2017, as supplies tighten, and are projected to be 10 – 25 percent above averages. Between February and June, traders are expected to buy and hold grain stocks, with the intention of selling to customers at a higher profit in the future as prices rise. From data provided by the State Department of Agriculture, an analysis of available maize stocks and imports against the expected utilization by both manufacturers and consumers, indicates that by the end of May, the country will have surplus maize of 0.25 million metric tons, which is much lower compared to previous years’ at the same time. In case imports are not sustained at recommended levels, the country is likely to experience substantial deficits after May. In non-arid and semi-arid (ASAL) areas, which were excluded from the short rains assessment, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely through at least September, as the majority of households are expected to be able to meet both their food and non-food needs. 

In the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming zones, the average to below-average March – May long rains will likely provide some marginal income-earning opportunities during land preparation and planting. This will provide some respite for poor households who will access some income for food purchases. In addition, availability of some short-cycle crops between May and June and income opportunities from harvesting activities are likely to further support household food consumption but at below-normal levels. Exceptions for improvements will be in areas likely to receive substantial rainfall deficits (less than 50 percent of normal). For the southeastern zone, though the long rains is not the major production season, households are likely to attempt to increase production of the minor long rains crops, by planting more if they have access to seeds, as a way to compensate for major losses during the short rains season. Notably, poor households will rely more on markets for food, but their access will likely be limited by their yet-to-recover incomes and higher staple food prices. In the coastal zone, where the long rains is the main producing season, the rains are likely to be insufficient for maize crop production, though the drought-resistant crops, like green grams and cassava production, are expected to provide some food availability. Both the coastal and southeastern zones will experience some improvement between May and July but will still remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity as poor households are likely to only be able to meet their minimum food needs but not essential non-food needs. However, coastal areas that experience substantial rainfall deficits will likely continue experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Increasingly, more households are likely to become dependent on coping strategies, such as purchasing food on credit, reducing expenses on healthcare, and to some extent sale of productive assets; and humanitarian assistance to bridge their food gaps, especially between February and April, and the lean season that typically begins in August and extends until the end of October. Important to note, while the March – May long rains forecast points toward average-to-below average rainfall, households are unlikely to have a favorable harvest since land preparation and planting is likely to be hampered by reduced household incomes to support these activities, especially for poor households. As these households have faced extended periods of losing their typical income-earning opportunities, this is likely to be a constraining factor in terms of households’ ability to purchase seeds and even fertilizers. These factors, combined with forecasted erratic rainfall, is likely to lead to a below-average long rains harvest.

In the pastoral areas, food security is expected to continue declining at atypical levels during the February – April dry period. With the majority of households maintaining their livestock in the dry season grazing areas, far from homesteads, consumption and income from livestock will remain atypically low. Following the below-average short rains and due to poor rangeland conditions, livestock health and body conditions are expected to atypically deteriorate, with livestock prices in the markets declining at abnormal levels. Consequently, the poor health and body conditions will result in low demand in the markets. In some areas, especially in northern parts of Marsabit, Turkana, Garissa, and Tana River, increased livestock mortalities are likely, between February and April, if no rapid interventions, like livestock offtake and provision of animal feed supplements and water, are put in place, as exceptionally severe deficits of forage and water prevail in these areas, with a high proportion of weakened livestock. Mortalities will also likely increase at the onset of the long rains as typically happens as there is a heightened risk of hypothermia due to the temperature change; however, cases could be even higher than normal due to the poor livestock body conditions. Loss of food from livestock and livestock products is likely to result in an atypical, higher market demand for food, but access will be constrained for the majority of poor households due to their lack of income from limited livestock sales and other income opportunities. Acute malnutrition is expected to continue deteriorating across the pastoral areas as reduced food access, including that from livestock (milk and meat), predisposes household members, especially children, pregnant and lactating mothers to higher malnutrition outcomes. An increase in malnutrition cases is also likely due to an expected increase in morbidity prevalence, following reduced access to water in terms of quality and quantity during the prolonged dry period, which will predispose the population to waterborne diseases. According to SMART Nutrition surveys conducted as part of the short rains assessment, overall, “Critical” levels of acute malnutrition (GAM 15-30%) are projected in many areas throughout the outlook period, except in parts of Marsabit, Mandera and Turkana where “Extremely Critical” levels (GAM >30%) are expected to persist, if nutrition interventions are not adequately implemented. Increasingly, more households are likely to become dependent on humanitarian assistance to bridge their food gaps. Through April, more households are likely to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with a few localized households likely to experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, in parts of Marsabit, Turkana, Samburu, and Garissa, since some of these households have been in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) since September 2016 and have exhausted all available coping mechanisms and face an extreme loss of livelihood assets. The onset of the long rains in late March, forecasted to be average to below-average, will bring some marginal improvements to pastoral households. The beginning of the rains is likely to trigger some households to move their livestock back to wet season grazing areas, albeit at below-normal levels, less than 50 percent of their total livestock holdings, especially in areas that suffered the greatest resource depletion. This will provide some poor households with much needed livestock products, like meat and milk, for consumption and sale. Livestock prices are also expected to marginally stabilize, and improve a bit, as livestock health improves, and demand for livestock increases from May through June, as the market supply remains low. Typically, pastoral households would want to hold onto their herds and fatten them, even with the slightest improvements in rangeland conditions. Between May and June, food security will improve, but at below-normal levels, as consumption of household-owned livestock milk and meat resumes, while some livestock-related labor opportunities like herding become available, providing needed income. While some households are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September, others will likely have improved outcomes and move back to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), especially in areas that will not have significant forage and water deficits from May through July. However, due to the expected below-normal regeneration of rangeland conditions since many areas have experienced deteriorations for close to a year, their depletion is likely to be faster than normal, with most pastoral households likely to start experiencing the lean season earlier than normal, from July instead of August, and some households are likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes again. Note that the FEWS NET mapping will not show this change in improvements since only the highest and most predominant area classification for a period is reflected.  

For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming six months. Learn more 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 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.