Kenya + 3 more

FEWS Bulletin - July 1998

On July 23, WFP received authorization from its headquarters in Rome for the extension of the December 1997 Emergency Operations Program (EMOP) in flood-affected pastoral areas in eastern Kenya. USAID has moved quickly to finalize its pledge, bringing its total contribution to the WFP Kenya Flood EMOP to 8,390 MT of commodities. The European Union will also be finalizing its pledge of 4,400 MT. The extension will cover distribution of approximately 20,000 MT of food between July and September to over 500,000 pastoralists who lost a large share of their animals to waterborne and other diseases in late 1997 and 1998. Improved road access, improved herd health, increased milk production, and improved livestock-to-cereal terms of trade are facilitating recovery for pastoralists, but WFP field assessments in June confirmed that global acute malnutrition rates among children remain very high, particularly in Garissa, Mandera, and Tana River Districts. The worst situation is in Bura Division of Tana River District, where 70 percent of children under 5 years of age are malnourished. In other divisions, rates of malnutrition vary from 10 to 30 percent.

In Kenya’s agricultural areas, long-rains crops are in good condition, with the following exceptions: In Coast Province, heavy rains at planting limited the area planted to less than 60 percent of average. At lower elevations in the marginal agricultural districts of Eastern Province, 70 percent of the maize crop suffered drought stress at the critical tasseling stage. In the lakeshore areas of Nyanza and Western Provinces, flooding of Lake Victoria washed away at least 15,000 ha of crops. In Coast and Eastern Provinces, households will experience increased hardship because of reduced crop production, but most should be able to meet their food needs this year by relying on other income sources. In the lakeshore areas of Nyanza and Western Provinces, however, households will need outside assistance to protect livelihoods and human health.

The latest Ministry of Agriculture crop production estimates put total long-rains maize production at 2.22 million MT—just under the average for 1991 through 1996 and well over last year’s 1.84-million-MT long-rains output. These estimates are contingent upon the rains’ continuing beyond the normal period, because heavy rains at the start of the season in all long-rains areas forced farmers to plant maize late. Maize prices in June at major reference markets were 30 to 45 percent below last year’s levels, but 30 percent higher than the average for 1992 through 1996. They should fall over the next 4 to 5 months as long-rains harvesting begins in August, providing adequate food access for the majority of the population.


Food from the recent vuli (short rains) harvest (January to March) in bimodal areas and from the ongoing masika (long rains) harvest (June to September) in unimodal areas is readily available across Tanzania. Prices of most food staples continued to decline in June. Maize prices probably reached their seasonal lows in most markets, settling to levels between those of 1996, a good production year, and 1997, a poor year. Rice prices have fallen almost 70 percent during the harvest period in two key production Regions (Shinyanga and Tabora), and they have fallen 40 percent in the major consumption center of Dar es Salaam. June 1998 rice prices in these markets were well below June 1996 levels. The low rice prices reflect increased rice production in key production zones, where heavy rains at the beginning of the season flooded fields usually planted to maize, prompting farmers to shift from maize to rice production.

Farm families in bimodal areas may find food availability and access difficult later this year. Prospects for the masika harvest (July to September) in most bimodal areas are poor, because late-planted crops did not receive adequate rainfall in June. Farmers planted up to two-thirds of their masika crops late because of El Niño-related changes in rainfall patterns. Yields of crops planted on time are also likely to be below average, because heavy rains at the start of the season hampered land preparation, reduced germination, and caused nutrient loss through leaching. Updated estimates of crop production from a joint crop assessment by FAO, WFP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Directorate of Meteorology, performed between mid-June and mid-July, should be available at the end of July. Pasture conditions and water availability are better than usual, thanks to the heavy rains earlier in the season. Increased milk production, lower food prices, and well-functioning livestock markets are ensuring pastoralists’ food security.


Following a good rainy season that ended at the beginning of June, the agricultural sector in Rwanda continues to recover from the 1994 war. The Ministry of Agriculture, FAO, WFP, the European Union, and FEWS conducted a preliminary crop assessment in late May, and they estimate overall production for season B at 2.2 million MT - 14 percent above last year’s season B (figure 3) and 18 percent less than prewar levels. Season B cereal production decreased 8 percent relative to last year’s season B, due in part to late plantings of wheat and poor quality sorghum seed. The assessment team estimates the nation’s food import requirement for July through December at 114,000 MT: 49,000 MT as commercial imports and 65,000 MT as food aid. Roughly 40,000 MT of food aid is already committed. Gains in season B production have reduced food aid needs to two-thirds of the level of January through June. Over the past 6 months, prices of most staple food crops have been falling, signaling better food security for most Rwandans.

Civil insecurity continues to take its toll on agriculture and food security in the northwest. In Gisenyi and Ruhengeri Prefectures, areas planted in season B to the two major crops, maize and Irish potatoes, fell to 10 and 5 percent, respectively, of prewar levels. As food aid deliveries to these Prefectures get under way and as previously scattered populations arrive at protected camps, WFP’s estimates of needy populations have risen from 95,000 in June to over 120,000 in July. In Gisenyi Prefecture, WFP delivered 20-day rations to about 70,700 displaced persons (1,106 MT) in June. In Ruhengeri Prefecture, where civil security is worse, WFP estimates that 51,600 displaced persons will require 792 MT of food aid per month until they can return to farming. Civil insecurity limited June food aid distributions to 55 MT.

The food security situation in Gikongoro Prefecture continues to improve. In June, WFP delivered 1,067 MT of food aid to the Prefecture - nearly three times the average monthly delivery from January through May. A recently published nutrition study by WFP and UNICEF documents a dramatic slippage in the nutritional status of children under 5 years old in Gikongoro Prefecture in the months before the inflow of relief and harvest produce. In May, about 11 percent of the sampled children were acutely malnourished - a near tripling of the rate relative to a UNICEF study conducted 18 months earlier. A near doubling of the rate of chronic malnutrition, to 56 percent, reflects persistent caloric deficiencies in this historically food-deficit Prefecture.

Households in Gikongoro will continue to benefit from food-for-work projects, including terracing, sweet potato and cassava multiplication, reforestation, wetland reclamation, road maintenance, and school gardens. UN agencies and NGO’s have supplied farmers with sweet potato cuttings and vegetable seeds for season C (July through September in low-lying areas). WFP is supplying more than 61,000 needy persons with free food distributions. Prospects for food security in Gikongoro Prefecture depend on sustaining this flow of food production and relief interventions.


In all but the southwestern and northeastern corners of Uganda, first-season rains ended early. Only scattered rains have fallen since mid-May, whereas they normally continue through mid-June in the south and early August in the north. In spite of the general dryness, most major crops (maize, beans, cassava, and sweet potato) were still healthy as of mid-July, sustained by scattered rainfall and residual soil moisture. The USAID Investment in Developing Export Agriculture Project and Ugandan Government extension officers report that much of the maize crop is tasseling and forming ears and current moisture demands are high. Continued low rainfall will likely result in smaller kernels, but not widespread crop failure. Low staple food prices suggest that buyers and sellers remain optimistic about the harvest. Nationally, maize and bean prices for June are about 46 and 24 percent lower, respectively, than last year at this time.

WFP, FAO, Catholic Relief Services, and Action Against Hunger-USA conducted an assessment in mid-June and found that the cumulative effects of a poor crop last year, planting delays due to extended El Niño-related rains in late 1997, and current-season dry spells have eroded food security in eastern Kitgum District and parts of Moroto and Kotido Districts. Household cereal stocks are exhausted, livestock prices are falling, and the most desperate families are eating cactus fruits, bitter leaves, and beer residues. WFP will provide 2,500 MT of food for 130,000 persons in these Districts from mid-July through October.

WFP continues to provide food to over 400,000 internally displaced persons in Gulu and Kitgum Districts of northern Uganda, although an increase in looting, ambushes, and raids disrupted food distributions in June. In Bundibugyo District and parts of Kasese District, WFP is providing food for roughly 50,000 persons (most of whom are internally displaced), and it has scheduled distribution of seeds and tools in Bundibugyo District for July 1998.


The FEWS bulletin is published for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Africa Bureau, Assistant Administrator, Disaster Response Coordination (AFR/AA/DRC) by: The FEWS Project, No. 698-0491 (Contract No. AOT-0491-C-00-5021-00), ARD, Inc. Contractor: Associates in Rural Development, Inc., Burlington, VT.

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