Analysis of the food security situation in Kenya at the end of the 2013-2014 short rains season


Drought risk in Kenya

A recent JRC report on the current food security situation in Kenya finds that, due to a poor 2013-2014 short rains season, northern and northeastern parts of Kenya are affected by drought, and agricultural crop production in the southwest is below average. As of the date of publishing, rainfall for the 2014 long rains is also late by 20 days in large parts of the country, further aggravating the situation and making continuous monitoring crucial.

The two main areas that are currently at risk of food insecurity are the southern and coastal zones and the pastoral dry lands of the north. The food security situation in southeast and coastal areas is classified as IPC Phase 2 (stressed), but could deteriorate depending on the 2014 long rains. While drought conditions in the north are not unusual, food security problems in this region are chronic, with some parts showing signs of approaching extreme drought levels and population heavily dependent on food aid. Food security in these areas is further limited by conflict situations and poor infrastructure.

The price of maize, the key staple food in Kenya, has risen significantly this year, putting vulnerable households at increased food security risk. Tensions in neighboring countries leave Kenya exposed to rapid price changes, restrict cross-border market flows and cause refugee influxes that increase the likelihood of conflict for natural resources.

Food insecurity is affected by many sectors, including climate, vegetation, markets, nutrition, political, historical, social and economic factors. Many of these are already being integrated into evolving standardized approaches to reduce risk and plan development and response management. The authors call for a more in-depth and integrated assessment of the issues underlying chronic food insecurity, including conflict, infrastructure, international relations and coping strategies.