FEWS Kenya Food Security Update: 08 Nov 2002



Exceptionally heavy rainfall across most of the country during the last week of October has heralded the onset of the 2002 short-rains season.

Flooding caused by continuing heavy rainfall in neighboring highland areas threatens the recovery prospects of pastoralists in eastern districts.

In northwestern districts, however, after a tentative onset, the heavy rainfall in late October has been welcomed by pastoralists and likewise, the arable farm households situated in Eastern, Central, Coast and Nyanza Provinces.

The trends in food prices are predictably mixed -- seasonably falling in the early harvesting areas but rising in the late harvesting 'grain-basket' areas, key reference markets as well as in pastoral markets.

In collaboration with the Office of the President and other partners, The World Food Program is preparing to implement the 'Fund for Disaster Prevention', aimed at increasing the capacity of persistently food insecure households to deal with future droughts.

Ongoing food security activities include national livelihood zoning, the strengthening of disaster management capacity and flood contingency planning exercises.

1. Food Security Conditions and Prospects

Pastoralists residing in the severely drought-affected southeastern pastoral districts bordering Somalia and adjacent to the Tana River are fearful that their recovery prospects may be threatened by flooding caused by heavy rainfall, in neighboring highland areas. A dam wall along the Tana River broke down, leading to serious flooding in localized areas. The resultant loss of life and livestock, the displacement of pastoralists and severing of access, during late October is reminiscent of the adverse impacts of the El Niño rains of 1997-98.

However, in several other pastoral districts including those of continuing concern such as West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana and Mandera, the heavy rainfall in October, though poorly distributed, has been beneficial. The rainfall has enhanced food security prospects and may initiate a recovery process.

Apart from drought and occasional floods, livestock raiding remains the major obstacle to enhanced pastoralist food security. During October, repeated livestock raiding in Isiolo, Turkana and Samburu and Samburu Districts jeopardized recovery prospects among drought-affected pastoral households.

Food security conditions in arable districts have improved significantly. Enhanced household food supplies following the 2002 long-rains harvest, coupled with the onset of the 2002-03 short-rains season, points to the likelihood of improved short to medium term food security in cropping areas, barring excessive rainfall.

Increased supply of cereals and pulses at the household level is expected to keep maize prices fairly low, particularly in areas adjacent to the key harvesting areas. Nevertheless, lowered 2002 long-rains maize output will likely moderate both the downward pressure and duration of lowered prices.

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