Kenya - Drought Situation Report #1 (FY 2002)


Note: the last information bulletin was dated June 19, 2001.


In early 1998, as Kenya began to recover from the floods of 1997, the Horn of Africa experienced the first of several seasons of below-normal rainfall that culminated in a severe drought between March and June 2000. The 2000 drought was Kenya's worst drought in 60 years. According to the World Bank, long-term economic decline had pushed 48 percent of the rural population into absolute poverty by 2000, further intensifying the adverse effects of the drought.

Kenya has two rain seasons, a short season that typically occurs from October to December and a long season from March to June. The below-normal long season harvest of June 2000 threatened the food security of pastoral and subsistence agrarian populations throughout the northern, central, and eastern areas of the country. Malnutrition and disease became more prevalent among agrarian and pastoralist populations. Agrarian populations' purchasing power decreased, resulting in a gradual depletion of food stores. Greater distances between diminishing pasture and water sources weakened pastoralists' cattle stocks and triggered localized conflict over decreasing resources. The distances between water and pasture also strained the health of both cattle and pastoralist populations. The decreased availability of currency and declining market value for weakened livestock undermined pastoral coping mechanisms.

The Government of Kenya (GOK) responded to the crisis with a consolidated appeal in July 2000, issued in cooperation with United Nations (U.N.), bilateral, and non-governmental assistance organizations (NGOs). Donors promptly responded to the appeal and the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Horn of Africa later credited this assistance with averting serious food insecurity in 2000. By November 2000, 3.2 million vulnerable Kenyans were receiving food assistance.

The short rains between October and December 2000 rains were sporadic and sparsely distributed, providing little relief to some areas and worsening conditions in others. The 2001 long rains between March and June were short and poorly distributed in certain regions, resulting in a deterioration of food security in eastern and northern areas, particularly in pastoral and coastal areas. However, the 2001/2002 short rains began in early November 2001 and replenished some water sources in previously dry pastoral areas and in the severely drought-affected marginal agricultural regions in eastern and coastal provinces. The rains contributed to favorable harvests in the key growing areas, and some regions such as Western and Nyanza Provinces are recovering. The 2002 long rains were not sufficient to warrant a favorable crop production outlook throughout the country, and food insecurity continues in certain coastal marginal agricultural districts. However, some pastoral and agro-pastoral regions have improved and many areas are transitioning from peak drought emergency levels into recovery efforts.

Numbers at a Glance

Drought-affected: 1.2 million (WFP)
Refugees in Kenya: 240,000 Total (UNHCR and WFP)

Total FY 2001 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Kenya $5,928,260
Total FY 2001 USG Humanitarian Assistance to Kenya $101,022,395
Total FY 2002 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Kenya* $962,997
Total FY 2002 USG Humanitarian Assistance to Kenya** $29,990,695


Food insecurity and food assistance response efforts.

Food insecurity persisted from the middle of 2001 through the end of the year as a result of the brief, modest, poorly distributed 2001 long rains and the previous five seasons of drought conditions in some areas. Food security diminished in eastern and northern regions, particularly in pastoral and coastal areas, following the poor long rains between March and June 2001. The inadequate rains were detrimental to water and pasture resources and resulted in declining livestock health and diminished milk output, further decreasing food security.

To respond to the food security needs of drought-affected populations, the U.N. World Food Program's (WFP) Emergency Operation Program (EMOP) assists 1.2 million people in pastoral areas. WFP also supports food-for-work (FFW) activities in marginal agricultural and agro-pastoral districts. The general food distribution program will continue through October 2002 and the FFW program will continue to assist approximately 284,000 people in drought-affected areas in the coming months.

The outcome of the 2001/2002 short rains season varied across the country, but certain drought-affected pastoral and agro-pastoral areas significantly improved. As a result, early in 2002 WFP began the gradual reduction of the EMOP relief assistance activities and shifted the food assistance program towards initiatives that rebuild pastoralists' capacity for mitigating the effects of drought and other recovery efforts. However, the short rains did not considerably improve food insecurity in coastal marginal agricultural districts, particularly in Kwale, Kilifi, and lowland areas of Taita Taveta.

The 2002 long rains began uncharacteristically early during the first week of March in some areas, followed by no rainfall countrywide through the end of March. The rains that recommenced in April were widespread and heavy, resulting in flooding in some areas. However, marginal agricultural areas in the southeast and parts of western agro-pastoral areas received insufficient rainfall. According to food security specialists, during the month of May crops require moisture but not in extreme amounts. The long rains, particularly during May, replenish water sources and pasture areas that pastoralists and agro-pastoralists depend on. The 2002 long rains ended early during the first week of June. Critical crop production areas in Eastern, Central, and Coast Provinces remain at risk to food insecurity and national and international specialists continue to monitor these areas closely.

The erratic 2002 rainfall has diminished expectations for favorable crop production, according to Kenya's Drought Monitoring Center (DMC), particularly for farmers in Rift Valley Province. However, the DMC expects normal to above-normal output for the maize crop in Western and Nyanza Provinces. Output should also be favorable for the farmers who planted early in Central, Eastern, and Rift Valley Provinces.

Maize prices decreased as a result of a surplus from January 2001 until May and early June 2002. Prices continue to rise in key reference markets, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), which is consistent with the seasonal pattern of increasing prices through June and a general decrease in July and August when long-rains harvests commence. If the harvests are significant, maize prices could decrease towards the end of 2002.

Continuing localized drought conditions.

FEWS NET reported substantial improvements in several previously drought-affected pastoral districts following the 2002 long rains. However, areas that received below-average cumulative rainfall levels and remain of continuing concern are located throughout Kenya and include southern parts of Tana River District, Mandera District, Moyale District, eastern parts of Marsabit District, and agro-pastoral districts in West Pokot, Koibatek, Marakwet, and Baringo.

Desertification has adversely affected the capacity of populations to cope with drought conditions. According to the GOK, dry lands cover 88 percent of Kenya's total land surface, and forest cover has decreased to 2.8 percent of the total land area due to commercial usage, clearing for settlements, timber usage, and domestic activities such as firewood and charcoal.

Heavy rains cause significant flooding.

In May 2002, heavy rains caused floods and landslides in eastern pastoral districts and in the Lake Victoria basin in western Kenya that affected more than 120,000 people and contributed to 68 deaths, according to international humanitarian sources. Later in May, continuing heavy rains caused additional flooding that adversely affected more than 175,000 people and displaced more than 60,000 people throughout Kenya. Tana River District was the worst affected, with 27,000 people impacted. Representatives from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) participated in an assessment to flood-affected areas to determine the humanitarian needs. The GOK promptly responded with assistance to flood victims and on June 28 launched an international appeal for $62.5 million to assist drought and flood victims.

Shortfalls in the food pipeline.

Planned food distributions in WFP's EMOP and refugee programs have been adversely affected by pipeline shortfalls during 2002. FEWS NET reported a 17,800 metric ton (MT) shortfall in early July, resulting in the temporary suspension of FFW activities in seven districts. The FFW program continued in six districts.

Malnutrition in Mandera District.

The Arid Lands and Resource Management Project (ALRMP) reported increased rates of child malnutrition in Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, and Tana River Districts in early October 2001 following unfavorable rains. According to FEWS NET as of early June 2002, high rates of child malnutrition continue in parts of eastern Mandera and Turkana Districts. Low milk yields and decreased livestock availability continue to contribute to increased child malnutrition rates. Clan warfare in villages and towns in Somalia's Upper Gedo region during April and May prompted approximately 10,000 Somalis to flee into the border town of Mandera in northeastern Kenya, where malnutrition among local residents has been a concerning concern. During the past few months, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations have provided medicine, food, water tanks, and plastic sheeting to assist the refugees. Malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea are continuing causes for concern. An estimated 5,000 returned to Somalia during June and July as a result of pressure from the Kenyan authorities and Somali clan elders. The refugee influx continues to strain already limited humanitarian resources in certain parts of Mandera District.

WFP has been assisting approximately 5,000 Somali refugees in Mandera District, but faces a 4,000 MT food shortfall until the end of the year. FEWS NET reported that with currently available resources, WFP will meet 88 percent of refugees' needs through December, which will decrease to 67 percent in January and to 35 percent in February 2003, should additional deliveries not be forthcoming. On June 14, UNHCR reported the GOK allowed UNHCR to relocate some of these refugees to Dadaab refugee camp located approximately 400 kilometers (km) south of Mandera. The move improves access and assistance to the refugees.

Continuing health concerns.

On June 17, the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the Kenya Red Cross Society commenced a seven-day measles vaccination campaign targeting approximately 14 million children between the ages of nine months and 14 years. According to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), measles immunization coverage is currently between 60 and 70 percent countrywide, and approximately 18,000 children die from measles annually.

Humanitarian organizations reported more than 300 deaths as a result of malaria infection in Kenya's Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces in early July. Provincial medical authorities report that thousands of people in western areas have been affected, and more than 5,000 have been treated in local hospitals in the two provinces. The GOK responded to the outbreak by providing free treatment for malaria in all state-run hospitals. Health organizations in Kenya continue to effectively respond to the malaria situation.


On October 10, 2001, U.S. Ambassador Johnnie Carson re-declared a disaster in Kenya as a result of three consecutive years of drought that continue to affect more than 1.8 million people.

In FY 2001, USAID/OFDA provided more than $5.9 million in emergency assistance in Kenya. To date in FY 2002, USAID/OFDA has provided approximately $900,000 to assist drought victims in Kenya. Due to improving food security conditions, USAID/OFDA emergency activities began to phase out during FY 2002. Some areas of Kenya are adequately recovering from the drought. Other areas, particularly pastoral areas, require continued assistance. USAID/OFDA continues to closely monitor the effects of rains on vulnerable populations and could increase emergency assistance activities should the need arise.

In FY 2001, USAID's Office of Food For Peace (FFP) provided approximately $38.7 million in P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance to Kenya. In FY 2002 to date, USAID/FFP has provided 10,100 MT of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance to WFP in order to assist food insecure populations throughout Kenya. The estimated cost of this pledge is $4.7 million.

In FY 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided 103,200 MT of 416(b) surplus food commodities to Kenya, valued at more than $46.3 million.1 In FY 2002, USDA has provided 20,550 MT of 416(b) surplus food commodities, valued at approximately $4.7 million, to assist food insecure populations in Kenya.2 Since last year, nationwide Kenya has faced a surplus of marketable maize, but populations in pastoral areas of the north and northeast have remained food insecure and in need of assistance. In accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the GOK and WFP, USDA contributed 10,000 MT of wheat (rather than corn) and 2,500 MT corn-soy blend to the WFP EMOP in Kenya in FY 2002. The MOU includes agreement on the terms for bartering the donated wheat for local corn at a ratio negotiated with the GOK based on the local market value of the two grains, including applicable fees and duties for the wheat.

To date in FY 2002, the State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) provided more than $10.4 million to assist refugees in Kenya. State/PRM earmarked $3.4 million to UNHCR for refugee activities, contributed $2.4 million towards WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) in Kenya, and provided $20,000 to the Ambassador's Fund to support shelter activities at the Kakuma refugee camp located in northwestern Kenya. At the beginning of 2002, international organizations were assisting more than 65,000 refugees in Kakuma, including more than 67,000 Sudanese and 12,000 Somali refugees. The NGO CARE received more than $1.7 million in FY 2002 for camp management and other assistance programs at the Dadaab refugee camp located in northeastern Kenya, which supports more than 132,000 refugees including 129,000 from Somalia. State/PRM contributed more than $1.2 million to Lutheran World Federation and more than $1.5 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for camp management, education, health, sanitation, and other programs at Kakuma refugee camp.


1. In addition, USDA contributed 70,900 MT of food commodities in FY 2001 valued at more than $44.0 million towards WFP's school feeding program.

2. In FY 2002, USDA also provided more than 10,000 MT of corn to WFP's school feeding program at an estimated cost of $3.3 million.

(pdf format)

Map on USAID/OFDA FY 2002 ongoing assistance to Kenya (pdf format)

USAID/OFDA bulletins can be obtained from the USAID web site at