FEWS Kenya Food Security Warning 26 Aug 2004 - 1.8 million need food aid

An estimated 1.8 million food insecure to be targeted with food aid from August 2004 to January 2005

The Intervention

An Emergency Operation was launched in mid-August, following the disaster declaration made by the President in July. About 1.8 million persons in 26 districts are considered highly food insecure and will receive food assistance implemented by WFP in partnership with the Office of the President (OP). Figure 1 is shows the percentage of the total population targeted in each district.

MAP - Fig 1: Proposed percent of total population to receive relief food

The total food aid requirement is estimated at 166,000 MT between August 2004 and January 2005. This total is made up of 136,000 MT of food for general food distribution, supplementary feeding and Food-for-Work (FfW) programs; and 30,000 MT of food to address the needs of 544,000 children who have been added to the regular School Feeding Program (SFP), which normally covers one million school children. The expansion of the school feeding program is the direct result of many children not attending school because of the crisis. The food intervention is valued at $ 81 million.

General food distribution (GFD) will be provided to the most food insecure and drought-affected households. Beneficiaries for general distribution will be targeted based on livelihood zones and the severity of the drought and food insecurity in an area. Supplementary feeding will be provided to 'at risk' children under five years and pregnant and nursing mothers in the districts of Turkana, Garissa, Ijara, Wajir, Mandera, Moyale, Marsabit and Isiolo and in parts of Eastern Province. FfW will be implemented largely in the marginal agricultural districts of Machakos, Mwingi, Kitui, Makueni, Kwale, Kilifi and Tharaka and in parts of agro-pastoralist districts like Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot, Laikipia, Narok and Kajiado. In pastoral districts, FfW will be implemented in limited areas where feasible.

Existing food security co-ordination and collaboration structures will be employed. The coordination structures are fully operational and have been upgraded based on the emergency operation of 1999- 2002.

Non-food interventions in the sectors of nutrition and health; water and sanitation; agriculture and livestock; and education have also been proposed.


While the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and few other countries have pledged support, initial indications suggest that pledges fall far short of estimated needs. Traditionally, non-food needs are poorly resourced which reduces the effectiveness of the food interventions.

Well-targeted and appropriate food and non-food interventions should significantly mitigate rising food insecurity. This has been the case in Turkana and Marsabit districts where early interventions in March averted a probable catastrophe.

The August-October period will be especially difficult, particularly for those pastoralists and marginal agricultural households facing several successive poor seasons. National maize output has been revised downward once more to 1.71 million MT and is now 20 percent below normal; bean output is only 50 percent of normal; maize prices are 25-40 percent above average; and coping strategies are over-stretched.

The government has waived the 25 percent duty levied on maize imports so as to dampen the impact of the high prices on the highly food insecure. However, the waiver may be too late with the beginning of the main harvest only two months away. High regional prices coupled with the limited handling capacity of the port of Mombasa may limit the import volumes, but a maize glut could adversely impact on future production.

The potential for conflict has heightened - pastoralists have migrated one-and-a-half months earlier than usual; already conflict is imminent, such as in Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera and in Turkana Districts.

Recommended Additional Actions

  • Deliberately employ the community-based targeting method in all districts paying special attention to areas where the targeted population is only a small fraction of the total district population.

  • Implement recommended non-food interventions, concurrently with the food intervention, to improve effectiveness of interventions.

  • In addition to on-going peace-building efforts, the GoK needs activate a conflict mitigation and prevention mechanism at this time.

  • Regularly review the intervention plan with respect to the changing agroclimatic, market and conflict environment.

  • Carefully monitor the expected 351,000 MT August-September maize imports to ensure that production incentives for key producers are not compromised.