Kenya | Drought and Hunger Crisis - Operation Update (6 months), DREF Operation n° MDRKE049



Description of the crisis

According to the KFSSSG short rains assessment food insecurity in Kenya has been deteriorating since August 2021. In February, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased to 3.1 million. The high level of emergency needs highlights the urgent and critical need for further funding to be able to appropriately and timely respond to critical needs and mitigate the impacts of the expected prolonged drought conditions. To date, the Emergency Appeal, which seeks CHF 8 million, is only 18% funded.

The food security situation has been on a worsening trend in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) due to the poor performance of rainfall. starting with the October- November- December (OND) 2020 spots of rain. Since then, three consecutive rainfall seasons have failed. The latest OND 2021 season was late-onset and below average in Northern and Eastern Kenya, performing 30-60% below the 40-year average. The coastal and eastern pastoral areas observed one of the driest seasons on record. False, late, and failed onsets of the rains across marginal agricultural areas have severely impacted farmers’ planting of crops and failed harvests are expected. Forage is also reported to continue decreasing in the pastoral areas leading to emaciation and death of livestock. Households are increasingly depending on non-agricultural wage labour, firewood, and charcoal sales, and increased livestock sales for income in the absence of typical agricultural wage labour opportunities. Households are increasing their reliance on humanitarian assistance from national and county governments, NGOs, humanitarian agencies, and school meal programs to minimize food consumption gaps. An increasing number of households are likely to engage in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3)1 . This food insecurity situation is thus projected to persist till December 2022, especially in marginal agricultural and pastoral areas, and if the coming March-April-May 2022 drops of rain fail, the situation will worsen critically.

Most areas that have been experiencing food insecurity are in the ASAL areas in Kenya, where communities practice mainly agropastoralism and pastoralism and thus depend mainly on meat and milk for nutrition and income. The food insecurity situation in some counties has been compounded by sporadic cases of conflicts, particularly in Baringo county, Lamu County, and Marsabit County where conflict and an ongoing security operation have disrupted community livelihoods. Other counties where conflicts have been reported include Meru and Isiolo counties. The conflicts have resulted in the displacement of communities as well as the loss of lives and livelihoods. Disruption of markets has also been noted further limiting communities’ access to income and food.

Above-average temperatures have driven the deterioration of forage and water resources and earlier than the normal onset of the lean season. Livestock productivity is expected to decline further, driving more intensified migration to areas with better forage and water conditions. This will increase incidences of livestock disease outbreaks and resource-based conflicts where livestock congregate in large numbers. Household food access is expected to remain constrained as staple food prices remain above average and livestock to maize terms of trade remain below average. As a result, critical malnutrition outcomes will persist in children under five years of age. As a result of the low total income, households will be unable to meet their basic food requirements and so are expected to exhibit borderline or worse food consumption, as measured by food consumption score. Households are also likely to increase consumption-based coping strategies like reducing the number of daily meals, eating less preferred foods, limiting adult intake for children to eat, borrowing food from friends and relatives, and sale of more livestock than normal.