FEWS Kenya Food Security Update: 16 Dec 2002

The 2002/03 short-rains season has varied widely across the country's livelihoods - favorable in the eastern and northeastern pastoral areas as well as in the coastal and western arable districts, resulting in improved recovery prospects in these areas.

In contrast, the season has been mediocre in the northwestern pastoral and in the southeastern short-rains dependent marginal agricultural areas, and if sustained, will likely lead to accentuated food insecurity.

Domestic maize availability, although currently favorable is likely to tighten after the first quarter of 2003. The 2002 long-rains harvest was less than expected, while the 2002/03 short-rains harvest will likely be reduced by the adverse impact of erratic short rains in key growing areas.

The World Food Program in collaboration with the GoK and implementing partners is in the process of finalizing the Disaster Preparedness Fund, which is aimed at enhancing the capacities of droughtprone households mitigate the impacts of poor seasons.

Ongoing food security activities during November included flood contingency planning and national livelihood zoning.

1. Food Security Conditions and Prospects

The preliminary prognosis of food security in the country is mixed across the country and will be become clearer in the early months of 2003, after the 2002/03 short-rains season is evaluated.

Initial optimism for improved food security across the country has been moderated somewhat by the mediocre November rains in key short-rains dependent marginal agricultural areas and in the northwestern pastoral and agro-pastoral districts. The 2002 short rains have been particularly erratic in these areas. However, fairly heavy rainfall during the past few days, if sustained, may improve food security prospects. Food security assessments are planned for early 2003, to clarify better the impact of these less than average rains on the food security of households in these areas.

In contrast, pastoralists situated in the eastern and northeastern districts of the country and agricultural households in Nyanza, Western and the highland areas of Eastern and Central Provinces are experiencing much improved food security conditions following fairly good rains. However, because the season started late, a good harvest in the arable areas in particular, is contingent upon the uncharacteristic continuation of rains into January.

Food prices have either remained stable or increased marginally during November in key reference markets, as harvesting continues in the 'grain-basket' districts of the Rift Valley Province. Although maize supply is favorable at present, supplies could tighten considerably after the first quarter of 2003. This is attributed to less than average production in the 2002 long-rains season as well as the expectation of a reduced short-rains harvest if mediocre rains persist in southeastern short-rains dependent and marginal agricultural districts.

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