2016 Kenya Preliminary Drought Appeal Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF / Emergency Appeal n° MDR64008

Originally published


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Kenya has a complex climate that varies significantly between its coastal, interior and highland regions and from season to season, year to year, and decade to decade. Due to poor performance of the long rains in March-April-May 2016, some pastoral and marginal farming communities in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of the country are experiencing moderate to severe drought. ASALs make up more than 80 per cent of the country’s land mass and are home to approximately 36 per cent of the population. The ASALs have the lowest development indicators and the highest incidence of poverty in the country. The incidence of poverty in the ASALs is 55.3 per cent compared to the national average of 45.2 per cent with arid areas having higher poverty incidence estimated at 75.8 per cent compared to 47.6 per cent in semi-arid areas and 41.3 per cent in medium and high potential areas (IFAD 2015). Major drought incidences occur in Kenya about every 10 years, and moderate drought incidences every three to four years. Historically, these extreme climatic events have caused significant loss of life, increase in morbidities related to inadequate nutrition and lack of access to adequate, clean and safe water, and increased severity of disease that have adversely affected the national economy.

According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group Joint Long Rains assessment report (KFSSG LRA), a total of 1,254,600 people mainly from pastoral (750,900) and marginal agricultural areas (503,700) in 19 ASAL counties are acutely food insecure, as they were directly affected by these poor rains, as well as other existing and emerging vulnerabilities and require immediate food assistance. This is an increase of 500,000 more people in need compared to estimates from the February 2016 short rains assessment.

The UNICEF Kenya Nutrition Situation overview report of October 2016 indicates that the rate of malnutrition are critical above 20 per cent in four counties (Turkana, East Pokot in Baringo, Mandera and Marsabit), extremely critical at 30.3 per cent in Turkana North and 15 per cent in West Pokot. An additional four counties (Samburu, Tana River, Garissa and Wajir) have serious acute malnutrition levels (10-14 per cent), refer to figure 1 below. Estimated malnutrition caseloads in ASALs is 294,300 children under five (60,600 under Severe Acute Malnutrition and 233,700 under Moderate Acute Malnutrition). Vulnerable pregnant and lactating mothers comprise 29,400 people.

The main drivers of the current food insecurity and heightened malnutrition levels are largely due to below-average performance of the 2016 long rains, livestock and crop pests and diseases, resource-based conflicts, terror-related threats, especially in areas bordering Somalia, human wildlife conflicts, and high food prices in certain areas (KFSSG LRA 2016 report). The nutrition sector situation update and response plan attributes high levels of malnutrition to poor dietary quantity and quality of diets for young children, driven by household level food insecurity, coupled with a high disease burden and localized outbreaks of cholera, measles and limited access to safe water. In addition, chronic issues facing these vulnerable populations, namely limited access to quality services, poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices and inappropriate child care and feeding practices, increase the vulnerability of the population and aggravate the high malnutrition levels.

Jointly with UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency appeal of USD 8.1 million for the procurement of specialized food required to treat 83,181 children under five with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and another USD 1.9 million for treatment of 23,093 pregnant and lactating women with acute malnutrition in the period October 2016 to April 2017. Treatment of severe acute malnutrition is ongoing and supported by UNICEF. However, there is need to urgently support MAM cases to avoid further deterioration to severe malnutrition situations.

The food security situation is likely to deteriorate further in these areas as predicted by various climate prediction institutions, amongst others, IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), FEWSNET, Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). During October-November-December 2016 season, it is expected that most parts of the country will experience depressed rainfall that will also be poorly distributed both in time and space.

It is reported that the predicted La Nina this year will most likely impact the areas affected by the El Nino of 2014/2015 and more. These areas include, North Eastern counties (Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo); Coast region counties (Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, Taita Taveta); Central Kenya counties (Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Murang’a, Nyandarua), Nairobi County, Central and North Rift, North Western, Eastern Kenya counties (Machakos, Kitui, Makueni, Meru, Embu, Tharaka, Isiolo, Marsabit) as shown in Figure 2.

Pastoral communities in north-west and north east parts of the country depend mostly on livestock for food and income. Currently, due to poor regeneration of pasture and browse, most households are migrating their livestock to dry season grazing areas in large numbers. Mass livestock outmigration has adversely affected availability at the household level, as only a few lactating livestock have been left behind to provide milk for households. Milk production and consumption in these areas ranges from 0.5 to one litre per household per day compared to a normal of two to three litres per household per day.

Conflict over rangeland resources has also been reported between communities in Isiolo, Garissa, and Tana River counties, hindering access to pasture and water in some places. Some parts in the northwest pastoral areas, including Turkana, Marsabit and Samburu, are not so much affected as they received fair amount of rains. However, the situation will typically deteriorate through the lean season from October 2016 to January 2017. According to FEWSNET, the ongoing nutrition interventions in these areas will help in stabilizing the nutrition status of most of the affected population. However, to bridge the income and food gaps, households are expected to intensify various livelihood and consumption-based coping mechanisms requiring further support. Pastoral communities in most of the areas highlighted in yellow in Figure 2 above are likely to be affected as the October to December short rains season are predicted to be below average, hence affecting livestock productivity, with areas to watch closely being Garissa and Tana River counties, as they have high probability of moving to IPC Phase 3. The modest improvements are unlikely to result in substantial changes in household acute food security.

Communities in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, are facing lower food stocks from the below-average long rains maize harvest and reduced income opportunities to support market purchases during the lean season. Since the short rains are the primary production season in these areas, its expected poor performance is likely to exacerbate household acute food insecurity with more households becoming Stressed (IPC Phase 2) by January 2017, while some will likely move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Areas of focus include, Kitui south, Kilifi, Eastern parts of Makueni and Kwale counties.

The counties currently affected by the drought have generally very poor health indicators, resulting in huge populations being at high risk of contracting diseases and these is further exacerbated by the poor/ malnutrition and inadequate supply of safe water as a result of drought. Diseases likely to be on the upsurge include Measles, water washed infections such as eye and skin infections and water borne diseases such as Cholera. As per the Department of Disease Surveillance and Response (DDSR) weekly epidemiological reports for August 2016, it was noted that some of the counties were already reporting measles cases and counties such as Mandera and Tana River still have active cholera cases(Ministry of Health). There is also increased risk of maternal and newborn deaths as much of the household income will be diverted to address the food access and critical actions such as transport for mothers to deliver at the health facilities will be compromised. Unfortunately, the counties affected by drought are in the top 15 counties in the Country that contribute to 90% of maternal deaths.