The prolonged drought in Kenya has caused a disturbing decline in the welfare status of pastoralists, agropastoralists and marginal agricultural households. The viability of pastoralist livelihoods, in particular, has deteriorated to alarming levels. Rising livestock mortality, falling prices and increasing incidents of banditry have combined with worsening malnutrition to further strain the precarious food security status of pastoralists following the failure of the fourth production season.
The World Food Program (WFP) continued its Emergency Operations Program (EMOP) in 19 districts during August, distributing an estimated 19,000 MT of cereals, 3,300 MT of pulses and 1,028 of oil. UNICEF, World Vision, ICRC and OXFAM also planned to distribute 1,370 MT of UNIMIX to the worst hit districts of Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Samburu and Mandera.
An estimated 180,000 MT of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, blended foods and salt are required for targeted distributions under WFP's extended EMOP from July to December 2000. Collectively, the United States Government (USG), the Government of Kenya, United Kingdom/DFID, France, Egypt, the African Development Bank and Israel have contributed 98,858 MT of food to date toward WFP's extended EMOP (of which the USG has contributed over 60 percent). Nevertheless, these contributions amount to only 55 percent of needs. WFP remains hopeful that other donors will contribute to the EMOP.
Although the long-rains season (March-June) has ended in several areas of the country, fairly heavy rains fell in the western, coastal and central areas of the country during August. Weather stations in the western areas of the country reported higher than average rainfall during August. Most other areas of the country, including the severely drought-affected pastoral, agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas remained characteristically dry.
National, regional, and international climate and food security experts met in August to develop the climate outlook for the Greater Horn of Africa region for the September - December period. According to the Climate Outlook Forum, there is little relief in sight for the severely drought-affected northern and eastern pastoral districts that will likely receive 'below normal' rainfall during the September-December Period.
Poor domestic maize production during 2000, coupled with insignificant imports, has culminated in expectations of a considerable maize deficit during the remainder of the 2000/01 consumption year. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MoARD's) mid-season estimates indicate that only 1.4 million MT of maize will be harvested, relative to a 1991-97 average of 2.2 million MT. An estimated 544,000 MT deficit is anticipated, during the August 2000 – June 2001 period, after taking available stocks into account.
The upward pressure on the price of the key maize staple reported last month has eased in several reference markets, following the conclusion of maize harvesting in most of Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza Provinces. Maize prices are expected to fall considerably in Rift Valley Province markets after the onset of harvesting in October.
1. Factors Affecting Food Availability
1.1. Rainfall and Vegetation
Although the long-rains season (month-month) has concluded in several areas of the country, fairly heavy rainfall occurred in the western, coastal and central areas during August. Weather stations in the western Kenya reported higher than average rainfall during August. Most other areas of the country, including the severely drought-affected pastoral, agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas, remained characteristically dry. Figure 1 compares actual and long-term mean rainfall in key rainfall stations spread across the country.
National, regional, and international climate and food security experts met in August to develop the climate outlook for the Greater Horn of Africa region for the October - December short-rains production period. 'Near normal' to 'above-normal' rainfall is forecast in the southern Rift Valley, districts adjacent to Mt. Kenya and a few southeastern districts. 'Near normal' rainfall is the most likely outcome in the arable districts of the Rift Valley Province, the lake region, the coastal and southern pastoral districts. However, the forecast indicates that the severely drought-affected northern and eastern pastoral districts will more likely receive 'below-normal' rainfall during the October - December short-rains season. Climate scientists emphasize the fact that even with improved information about the likelihood of an event occurring, it is difficult to predict exactly that the event will occur. Thus, they caution that the regional forecast is relevant only to seasonal time scales and relatively large area s, allowing considerable variations locally.
1.2. Crop Production
Poor domestic maize production during 2000, coupled with the absence of significant imports, has culminated in the expectation of an estimated 544,000 MT maize deficit during the remainder of the August 2000-June 2001 consumption year. Future relief food imports should reduce this maize deficit and that this partial balance sheet does not take into account the possible substitution of other cereals (or other foods) for maize. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MoARD's) mid-season long-rains estimates indicate that only 1.4 million MT of maize will be harvested, relative to a 1991-97 average of 2.18 million MT.
Figure 2: National Maize Availability: August 2000-June 2001
|August 2000||Household Stocks (mainly Rift Valley Province)||
|August 2000||NCPB Commercial and Relief maize stocks||
|August 2000||Millers' stocks||
|August 2000||Traders' stocks||
|August - December 2000||Long-rains harvest [all regions]||
|February - March 2001||Short-rains harvest - Eastern, Central and Nyanza Provinces [assuming normal short-rains harvest]||
|August 2000||All imports (through Mombasa, Uganda and Tanzania)||
|Total Estimated Availability||National Cumulative||
August '00 to June '01
(at 245,000 MT/Month)
[Estimated population - 30 million persons.
Consumption per capita/yr = 98 kg]
Maize harvesting has been completed in most areas of Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza Provinces as well as in the southern lying and early-planting districts of the Rift Valley Province. Harvesting should conclude in all of these areas at the end of September. The early-harvesting areas also constitute the most highly populated areas of the country.
The greater part of the country's long-rains maize will be harvested in November and December in the key 'grain-basket' districts of the Rift Valley Province. That crop is expected to cause a depreciation in prices toward the end of the year as increased supplies reach market. However, the usual marketable surplus from the 'grain-basket' districts will be comparatively lower than in normal years. Figure 2 illustrates expected availability of the key maize staple, during the August 2000 - June 2001 production period.
Bean harvesting has concluded in most of the growing areas, leading a notable increase in supplies. Final MoARD estimates for the 2000 long-rains season indicate that 108,000 MT of beans will be produced. This quantity is only 30 percent of the 1991-97 long-rains average output of 310,000 MT.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has nearly depleted its maize stock. Although the strategic grain reserve should normally amount to 270,000 MT, August stocks totaled only 20,700 MT. About 18,000 MT of that quantity is set aside for the GoK's relief food program. Consequently, NCPB's commercial stocks are estimated to be only 2,700 MT.
2. Food Accessibility and Prices
The previous upward pressure on prices of the key staple, maize has relented in several reference markets from July to August. The reduction in maize prices has been attributed principally to increased supply of maize, following the conclusion of harvesting in most of Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza Provinces. Further, a pronounced decline in maize prices is expected to be a prominent feature in Rift Valley Provinces' markets after October. The bulk of maize harvesting should occur in the Rift Valley Province in November and December. That Province should contribute close to 60 percent of national long-rains maize output during the 2000 long-rains season. Yet, in the absence of imported maize, the reduction in prices is expected be short-lived relative to normal production seasons.
Although maize prices have declined in most key markets, they remain higher than at a comparable period in the previous years in all markets, as illustrated in Figure 3. These exceptionally high maize prices in August are attributed to the reduction in domestic supplies while demand for this food staple remains stable.
The MoARD and FEWS NET/Uganda have reported that substantial supplies of maize from eastern Uganda continued to cross into neighboring Kenyan markets continued during August. The major points of entry include Busia town situated on the Kenya/Uganda border, Taita Taveta and Isebania towns located on the Kenya/Tanzania border. These maize imports by millers, traders and relief agencies have also improved the supply of maize in western Kenyan markets.
3. Areas of Concern: Turkana District and other Northern Pastoral Districts
The prolonged drought in Kenya has caused a disturbing decline in the welfare status of pastoralists, agropastoralists and marginal agricultural households. The precarious food security status of the worst hit households has resulted from the failure of four successive poor seasons beginning during the short-rains in 1998. The viability of pastoral livelihoods in particular has deteriorated to alarming levels. One of the key districts of concern during August is Turkana District. The current status in Turkana district typifies the situation in several pastoral districts across northern Kenya, in particular Marsabit, Moyale, Mandera and Samburu Districts. Subsequently, the status of pastoralists in Turkana District will offer insights into the precarious food security situation facing other pastoral districts.
The Kenya Food Security Steering Group, of which USAID-FEWS NET is a member, is planning urgent field assessments in Marsabit, Isiolo, Moyale, Makueni and Narok Districts, during the last two weeks of September. The assessments should provide better understanding of the nature and severity of food insecurity across the worst affected areas. The degree to which the current relief operations are re-dressing food insecurity will also be assessed.
3.1. Introduction to Turkana District
The predominantly pastoral Turkana District is 77,000 km 2 and is found in the northwestern part of Kenya (see Figure 4). The population of the district is estimated to be 447,000. As in most Kenyan districts, Turkana District is characterized by a combination of several food economy zones. Save the Children Fund/UK (SCF/UK) estimated that up to 70 percent of the population constitutes pastoralists and agropastoralists. The major livestock reared are sheep, goats, cattle and camels. Sheep and goats are distributed widely throughout the district, while the cattle are concentrated in the relatively upper lying areas of the district. The rest of the population is comprised of 20 percent fishermen and 10 percent destitute pastoralists. The Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP) has indicated that the proportion of fishermen has steadily declined while that of 'drop-out' pastoralists has increased.
Pure pastoralism is still considered the more superior livelihood, amongst the Turkana. Subsequently, during favorable production seasons, agropastoralists and fishermen use a substantial proportion of their disposable income to re-stock rather than to re-invest in crop production or fishing.
3.2. Current Status
Households in Turkana District are in the midst of one of the most severe and prolonged droughts, in history. The food security status of pastoralists has reached alarming proportions. The principal long-rains season (March-May) has been especially unfavorable during 2000, culminating in four successive poor seasons. The absence of significant rainfall in Turkana district during the 2000 March-May has resulted in the depletion of all grazing indicators - pasture, browse and water, to levels that are unable to support livestock. Figure 5 compares the striking near-absence of rainfall in Lodwar situated in Turkana District during 2000 with normal rainfall levels. As the pressure on boreholes intensified during August, frequent breakdown of overused pumps has become the norm. The Geographic Review Team (GRT) evaluating the western pastoral areas has recommended that urgent rehabilitation of non-functional water sources is crucial to mitigate severe water stress currently facing the pastoralists and livestock. Few riverine areas in Kerio and Turkwell Divisions have benefited from unseasonable rainfall in August.
The ALRMP has indicated that livestock mortalities amongst all species have reached alarming levels. An estimated 40 percent of the district's livestock has been decimated. Livestock mortalities have occurred due to worsening nutrition status of the livestock, especially in the central and northern areas of the Turkana District. Livestock mortalities amongst livestock migrating from western Turkana, toward eastern Uganda have resulted from the increased incidence of Pleuro-Pneumonia, due to the inability of the animals to adapt to the cooler climate. The GRT has emphasized the need to avail veterinary drugs to pastoralists as the poor nutrition status of the livestock has predisposed animals to diseases.
The Turkana pastoralists have also lost a significant number of the animals through banditry. Heightened reciprocal livestock raids have not only resulted in the loss of livestock, the pastoralists' main asset, but have also restricted grazing options due to increasing insecurity. During the past six months, severe livestock raids have occurred across Turkana's borders with the neighboring West Pokot, Marakwet, Samburu as well as Karamojong of Uganda and the Merille herdsmen of Ethiopia. The GRT has also recommended that security measures be put in place so as to avoid further destitution of pastoralists through preventable livestock raids.
Somewhat unexpectedly, pastoralist terms-of-trade have uncharacteristically improved since April. Increased availability of relief maize in markets has caused a significant reduction in maize prices. Livestock and meat prices have declined as well, but the rate of decline in maize prices outweighs the reduction in meat prices. Subsequently, the relative terms of trade of pastoralists has improved between April and July, as illustrated in Figure 6. However, despite these improvements, pastoralist terms of trade remain unfavorable.
The ALRMP has classified the situation of sedentary household members, in particular, as an Emergency, the most critical under its system of warning stages. Exceptionally high rates of child malnutrition are being reported in several areas of all divisions of the Turkana District. One bright spot is a reversal in the previous exceptionally high rates of child malnutrition in the northern Lokitaung Division has been attributed primarily to timely delivery of supplementary and normal food rations.
Figure 7 is an illustration of the poor nutrition status of children under five years as measured by mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), by division. UNICEF has commenced the distribution of an estimated 350 MT of UNIMIX to households in the worst hit areas of the district. However, UNICEF is apprehensive that sub-optimal quantities and constitution of food rations may minimize the effectiveness of its Supplementary Feeding Program. Security concerns as well as the poor state of the roads continues to hinder the effective delivery of relief food as well as other non-food interventions.
4. Current Interventions at the National Level
WFP continued its Emergency Operations Program (EMOP) in 19 districts of the country during August, distributing an estimated 19,000 MT of cereals, 3,300 MT of pulses and 1,028 of oil. UNICEF 's allocation for August was 1,370 MT of UNIMIX, to be distributed in the worst hit districts of Turkana, Marsabit, Moyale and Mandera.
An estimated 180,000 MT of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, blended food and salt are required for targeted distributions under WFP's extended EMOP (from July to December 2000). Of this quantity, blended foods account for 15,494 MT. Collectively, the United States Government (USG), the GoK, UK/DFID, France, Egypt, the ADB and Israel have contributed a total of 98,858 MT of food and 11,934 MT of CSB toward WFP's EMOP (of which the USG has contributed over 60 percent). Nevertheless, these contributions amount to only better than half of needs. WFP is optimistic that other donors will contribute toward the EMOP.
Readers are invited to visit www.fews.net to read the full (PDF) version of these country and regional Food Security Updates