FEWS Kenya Food Security Update: 06 Sep 2002

The outlook for the 2002 September- December 2002 short-rains season points to the likelihood of mostly "normal" rainfall with slight tendencies toward "below normal" rainfall in most areas of the country outside the districts adjacent to Lake Victoria.

Food security conditions have improved markedly in the arable areas resulting from increased household food supplies during this harvest period.

The national long-rains output of 1.89 million MT falls significantly short of the 1991-2000 long-rains average of 2.18 million MT. Nonetheless, Kenya projects a 100,000 MT maize surplus during the July 2002-June 2003 consumption year.

Most pastoralists have experienced marked improvements in their food security during the 2002 long-rains season. However, localized areas of serious concern remain, and sustained recovery in other areas will depend crucially on continued favorable rainy seasons.

The Kenya Food Security Meeting has endorsed plans to phase out the Kenya drought relief emergency operation, in effect since March 2000. Some 500,000 people in Turkana, Mandera, West Pokot, Ijara, Marsabit, and Tana River Districts, where transitory food security is still prevalent, will receive a total of 6,992 MT of food through September.

1. Food Security Conditions and Prospects

Food security conditions improved across most of the arable districts, particularly in areas where harvesting is continuing. Although aggregate 2002 long-rains maize output is significantly below normal, increased availability of foodstuffs at household and market levels has significantly increased food security among farm households in the harvesting areas. However, household food supplies will likely be depleted earlier than usual, particularly in Eastern, Central, and Coast Provinces, due to a mediocre long-rains crop.

In contrast, food security conditions have declined across most of the pastoral areas, as expected in the dry season. A few pastoral districts, such as West Pokot, Baringo, and parts of Mandera, reported high food insecurity, following a poor 2002 long-rains season.

On balance, food security has improved markedly among most pastoral households during 2002 relative to the past five drought-affected seasons, but serious concerns remain about the ability of pastoralists to overcome future bad seasons. These concerns point to a need for a national strategy that protects pastoralism as a sustainable way of life.

Food prices have seasonably declined across most of the country's key reference markets, enhancing food security at the household level, particularly in the previously drought-affected areas, though compromising income levels for the large producers, especially those in "grainbasket" areas.

The mid-term food security outlook will be determined by both the upcoming short rains, which are expected to be "normal" with slight tendencies toward "below normal" in most areas of the country, as well as by the impact of El Niño rains, anticipated toward the end of the year.

2. National Trends

2.1. Agroclimatic Conditions

National, regional, and international climate and food security experts met during the last week of August to develop the Climate Outlook for the Greater Horn of Africa region for the October - December 2002 short-rains period. The forecast for September - December (Figure 1) depicts an enhanced probability of "near normal" to "above normal" rainfall in the southern Rift Valley as well as most of Nyanza and Western Provinces. "Near normal" rainfall with slight tendencies toward "below normal" rainfall is the most likely outcome in all other areas of the country, including the drought-prone pastoral and the short-rains dependent marginal agricultural districts. The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction further indicated that the probability of an El Niño event occurring has increased to 95 percent in September, up from 75 percent in July. However, this El Niño is expected to be weaker than the devastating 1997/98 event, though may become strong in localized areas. The Kenya Meteorological Department is in the process of revising the forecast in relation to Kenya and expects to release a more detailed forecast during the second week of September.

Light to moderate rainfall beginning during the second half July continued through most of August in western, central Rift Valley, in central Kenya, the coastal strip, the marginal districts of the southeastern Kenya, and northwestern Turkana District. Satellite imagery indicates that these rains were generally lower than average, except in districts around Mt. Kenya where cumulative August rains were above normal amounts. Nevertheless, the rains from late July through August have had a beneficial impact on grazing conditions in those few pastoral areas and improved production prospects in the "grain-basket" districts in the northern Rift Valley.

2.2. Crop Production

Farmers have completed harvesting the long-rains maize crop in Nyanza, Coast, southern Rift Valley and in the lowland areas of Eastern and Central Provinces. Harvests in these areas have significantly increased market supplies, as reflected in lowered prices. Maize harvesting should be completed toward the end of August in the highland areas of Central, Eastern, and most of Western Provinces.

Harvesting of maize is expected to begin during late October to early November in Kericho, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu, key growing districts situated in the northern Rift Valley, as well as in Bungoma District Western Province. These five districts are expected to contribute close to 40 percent of the 2002 long-rains maize crop. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) has also indicated that nearly 10 percent of this crop was planted much earlier than the rest and is being harvested.

The MoARD expects that 1.89 million MT of maize will be harvested during the 2002 long-rains season. Although this output compares unfavorably with the 1991-2000 average output of 2.18 million MT, initial fears of a further reduction in output were allayed by beneficial light to moderate rainfall during late July and August in the key growing areas of the northern Rift Valley Province. Consequently, the abundant maize supply that characterized most of 2002 is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2003, following harvests from the "grain-basket" districts in November and December and short-rains harvests in February, barring large-scale exports. The MoARD expects an estimated 100,000 MT maize surplus for the July 2002-June 2003 consumption period, assuming a normal short-rains season and taking into consideration carryover stocks and imports. Figure 2 illustrates the trend in national maize production and projected availability relative to production and consumption during July 2002-June 2003, showing the anticipated 100,000 MT surplus.

Already 2002 short-rains land preparation is ongoing in parts of Central, Eastern, southern Rift Valley, and Nyanza Provinces. Farmers are increasingly aware of seasonal climate forecasts and the expectation of good rains from a possible El Niño event has motivated earlier-than-usual land preparation across most of the short-rains growing areas.

2.3. Commodity Prices

It has been a quiet period on the main food markets. Prices of maize dropped between July and August in three out of the four key reference markets - by 17 percent in Nairobi, 6 percent in Mombasa, and 8 percent in Kisumu. Prices remained stable in Eldoret at Ksh. 700 per 90-kg bag in August and during the first week of September (Figure 3).

Close to 80 percent of harvesting is complete or ongoing in Eastern, Central, South Rift, and Nyanza provinces, resulting in increased food supplies into the markets. Although the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is offering Ksh. 800 on credit per 90-kg bag for maize delivered to its stores, farmers prefer to sell their maize directly to traders and millers who pay between Ksh. 700 and Ksh. 750 in cash. The government is planning to release funds to NCPB to enable it to purchase maize for the Strategic Grain Reserve. Changes in price trends may be expected when NCPB begins to pay farmers.

The forces of supply and demand are relatively stable during this period and no substantial increase or decrease in market prices of maize is expected in the coming weeks. Maize prices this year are still lower when compared with prices the same period last year and are lower than the 1998- 2000 average. Prices of cereals have also remained low in most pastoral areas although there is an increase of the number of households buying cereals due to the planned phase-out of relief food distribution.

2.4. Pastoral Food Security

The improvement in pastoralists" food security has been the most encouraging feature of the 2002 long-rains season. Most indicators of pastoralists welfare, both agroclimatic and livestock, point to substantially improved conditions relative to the past three long-rains seasons. The Arid Lands and Resource Management Project (ALRMP) has reported that most grazing, livestock, and pastoralist "fundamentals" are within normal ranges for this time of year. However, one generally favorable long-rains season cannot completely mitigate the negative impacts of the previous three-year drought.

Pastoralists in nearly all areas are now found in their traditional dry-season grazing areas, most of them having migrated during August in response to diminished water, pasture and browse in the wet season grazing areas. Vegetation and water availability is generally favorable in most of the dry season areas with the exception of the hinterland areas of Tana River, West Pokot, and parts of Baringo and Mandera Districts. In some of these areas, absence of water has limited the utilization of pasture and browse, leading to secondary migration into other districts.

The ALRMP has reported that body conditions of livestock are generally good in most pastoral districts. Nevertheless, the health of some of the livestock has been adversely affected by disease, such as worm infestation in Isiolo District, Lumpy Skin Disease in Samburu District, and Contagious Caprine Pluero Pneumonia (CCPP) among the small livestock in Wajir District. Although the birth rates of livestock declined in August, as seasonally normal, mortality rates have likewise declined at a faster rate, thus maintaining overall positive herd growth rates.

Livestock prices declined across all pastoral markets, with the exception of some markets in Wajir - a response to favorable conditions resulting from extended rains. In all other pastoral markets, the seasonable decline in livestock prices during August was not strong enough to reverse favorable pastoralist terms-of-trade, in spite of lower maize prices following the longrains harvests, particularly in areas where the supply of maize has increased, such as in Samburu, Mandera, and Marsabit Districts. The reduction in livestock prices has been attributed principally to increased supply of livestock to markets as pastoralists seek to finance cereal purchases following the downsizing of emergency food distributions. In addition, pastoralists are unwilling to continue rebuilding herds during the middle of the dry season.

Rates of child malnutrition declined marginally across several pastoral districts during July and August, even as milk availability declined. The downward trend in rates of child malnutrition may be difficult to sustain, since most pastoralists and livestock have now migrated away from their home manyattas to dry-season grazing areas, thus reducing milk access to sedentary household members who constitute the most vulnerable members of any pastoral household.

Nevertheless, improvements in the food security of pastoralists during the 2002 long-rains season have provided widespread relief among severely drought-affected pastoral households. Yet, the number of destitute pastoralists has grown significantly during the three-year drought. In addition, the recovery of pastoralists' herds is expected to take longer than usual, not only due to the extended 1999-2001 drought, but successive poor seasons that began in mid-1996 and continued into 1998. In several pastoral districts current herd sizes are unable to support the household food security of pastoralists. An alternative, holistic long-term strategy that would enhance the ability of pastoralists to manage poor seasons is urgently required.

3. Ongoing National-Level Food Aid Interventions

3.1. Emergency Operation (EMOP) for Drought-Affected People

The Kenya Food Security Meeting (KFSM) has endorsed plans to phase out the Kenya drought relief EMOP, in effect since March 2000. The KFSM also endorsed the findings of the recent long rains assessment, conducted by its members, which concluded that after two relatively good rainy seasons, most of the country has recovered from the effects of prolonged drought. Free food distribution will be phased out by the end of this month. The EMOP's last general food distribution will target people in the six districts where transitory food insecurity is still prevalent (Turkana, Mandera, West Pokot, Ijara, Marsabit and Tana River). Some 500,000 people will receive a total of 6,992 MT of food at the end of the program in September.

Food-for-Work (FfW) activities will go on in seven districts under the Kenya EMOP. A total of 4,861 MT of food has been allocated to these districts. However, no further allocations of food will be made to people in these districts once the existing food balances have been depleted. FfW participants are expected to complete their FfW-supported activities by the middle of September. Implementing partners and NGOs are also expected to phase out their activities by the end of September.

With the end of the EMOP it is essential that the useful lessons learned are not lost. Thus, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) plans to conduct a review of the Community- Based Targeting and Distribution (CBTD) System this month. In addition, WFP is undertaking a major internal review of EMOP experiences. In the event of a future emergency, it is hoped that CBTD and related coordination structures can be reactivated quickly.

WFP and the Office of the President plan to reactivate a "Fund for Disaster Preparedness Activities," which includes a provision for FfW and food-for-assets for selected arid and semiarid lands (ASAL) districts. It is hoped that this will permit the continuation of successful FfW activities already initiated. Moreover, it will ease the transition from free food distribution in some of the most food insecure areas. While some resources have already been committed to the fund, additional financing will be required, particularly to cover the non-food costs of the activities.

Prepositioning of food to extended delivery points is ongoing for the Expanded School Feeding Programme. General distributions will begin shortly for term three of the school year, which commenced on September 2. More than 1.3 million beneficiaries in more than 4,400 schools throughout the country will receive 14,000 MT of WFP food, consisting of cereals, vegetable oil, and corn-soya mix as part of the EMOP food basket.

3.2. The Refugee Operation

Some 208,755 beneficiaries at the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps received WFP relief oil, pulses, and maize during August. An additional 200 grams of maize every day will compensate refugees for a shortfall of wheat flour. This allocation increases the kilocalorie intake from an average of 1,800 kilocalories to 2,000 kilocalories per person per day.

The recent cash contribution of $2.4 million from the U.S. Government will be used to locally purchase 2,000 MT of blended foods, 1,450 MT of pulses, and 710 MT of vegetable oil. A contribution of $700,000 from the Government of Sweden will be used to purchase 829 MT of vegetable oil and 187 MT of salt. These contributions have helped to offset further pipeline shortfalls.

UNHCR and WFP will undertake a joint Food Security Assessment Mission for the Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO), with Government of Kenya and donor participation. The mission, which will start on September 23 and last for about two weeks, will survey food security and nutrition conditions in the camps and make recommendations for requirements and food aid programming. A short evaluation of the needs of the host community is also planned.

Telephone: (254-2) 350523/4/5
E-mail: "Nancy Mutunga"<>

The World Food Program/VAM
Telephone: (254-2) 622687
E-mail: "Ben Watkins"<>