The current food security situation points to significant improvements among northwestern pastoralists in contrast to modest improvements for northern and eastern pastoralists, following mediocre short rains. While overall national crop prospects are good, significant crop losses have occurred in the southeastern lowlands and household food stocks there are diminishing rapidly.
In the most likely scenario, the food security of pastoralists and marginal agricultural households will be determined by the outcome of the short-rains season. If the forecast holds and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) continue to rise, then the food security of both pastoralists and crop farmers will improve.
In the worst case scenario, the expected La Nina event over eastern Kenya is not mitigated by rising SSTs, and the food security of farmers in the southeast and pastoralists in the north and east could deteriorate precariously and trigger a livelihood crisis. Poor rains will also precipitate conflict and enhance the spread of livestock diseases as animals cluster and compete for resources.
Current Food Security Situation
Overall, national food security has improved significantly across livelihoods at the conclusion of the long-rains season, which extended uncharacteristically into September in several areas. Although the season was fairly poor in the northeastern pastoral and southeastern and coastal lowlands, a good short-rains season in 2006 mitigated the impacts of the poor season on household food security. Unfortunately, elaborate livelihood interventions intended to consolidate the recovery process while mitigating the mediocre season in the northeast have not been widely implemented, slowing down the recovery.
Livestock birthings have increased as has milk availability in the pastoral livelihood. The adverse impacts of the Rift Valley Fever, including loss in productivity and market outlets, have ended. While rates of malnutrition have been on a consistent downward trend since April 2006, rates remain higher than the WHO emergency threshold in some parts of Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit districts. Pastoral areas in the northeast that received poor long rains will now begin to show signs of stress exhibited by increased migrations toward western districts and across into Somalia and Ethiopia. Debilitating livestock raiding has characterized most of 2008, compromising the recovery of pastoralists in the conflict epicenters.
Mid-season estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) point to above normal national output, in addition to favorable domestic supply from previous harvests. Unfortunately, the long rains have been excessive in key growing areas in the western and Rift Valley 'grain-baskets' that are reporting significant pre- and post-harvest losses of maize, beans and wheat. Substantial crop losses were also experienced in the southeastern and coastal lowlands arising from poor long rains.
An estimated 650,000 persons, predominately drought-affected and a few flood-affected, still require relief food through Cash for Work (CfW) and Food-for Work (FfW) programs. A further 2.4 million persons in pastoral, agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas are expected to benefit from non-food interventions, across sectors, following recommendations of the just-concluded long rains assessments. An estimated $6.6 million is required for livestock interventions, $7.2 million for crop production, $2.7 million for health and nutrition, $25 million for water and sanitation and $3 million for education.