1.1 Summary of Key findings
Significant improvements in pastoral and marginal agricultural livelihoods
Sustained deterioration in food security after a succession of poor or failed seasons that began in 2007 has been reversed significantly, after improved short rains in many parts of the severely droughtaffected pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. In addition, the October – December 2009 short rains extended into January and February 2010 in some drought?affected areas in the northwest and southeast. Generally, a higher than average short rains farm output is anticipated in the overwhelmingly drought?prone marginal agricultural districts of southeastern Kenya. The improvement in food security in the southeast is highly significant since the region accounts for the highest population of the food insecure. The drought?affected pastoral livelihood has also experienced a marked resurgence in environmental indicators which are slowly translating into improved household food security, through enhanced availability of milk and livestock products at the household and market levels, coupled with significant improvement in pastoral terms of trade. However, localized areas of heightened food insecurity remain and are located in parts of Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo and Marsabit districts. Many of these areas experienced an abbreviated season which lasted just over one month.
Nevertheless, rains in early March 2010 are anticipated to begin to improve environmental conditions and food security among these predominantly pastoral households.
Improvements moderated by succession of poor seasons across livelihoods Significant improvements in food security have been reported in several areas as shown by the reduction in numbers of persons requiring interventions on figure 1.1. However, the impacts of an extended period of poor or failed past seasons have eroded livelihood productivities and resilience, to the extent that several successive good seasons will be required to fully restore livelihoods, if at all. In the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas in particular, undesirable coping strategies, most of them detrimental to the environment or to the health and nutrition of households are slowly becoming entrenched as livelihood strategies, such as the practice of charcoal production and skipping of meals.
Urban food insecurity is also becoming intractable even in areas that are situated in traditionally food secure districts. More than half of the 13 million persons in urban areas dwell in informal settlements, many of them unable to meet their food needs without compromising non?food expenditure. Factors underlying urban food insecurity suggest that favorable cropping and livestock output alone, is unlikely to redress heightened food insecurity, in the absence of interventions that are tailored specifically to complex urban livelihoods. Other sources of current food insecurity have arisen from adverse impacts of floods, conflict and sustained higher than normal food prices for households that are predominantly net b of food.