Kenya Food Security Outlook, April to September 2011

Situation Report
Originally published
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Poor start to the 2011 rains of major concern

Key messages

--An estimated 2.4 million people in Kenya are classified in the IPC Stressed and Crisis phases and face inadequate food and non-food interventions. In the northern and northeastern pastoral districts, food insecurity is precarious for about 700,000 people after failure of the 2010 short rains and a poor start to the 2011 long rains in Marsabit, Isiolo and parts of Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa. Marked deterioration in grazing resources, coupled with severe water scarcity, has caused exceptionally long migrations, heightened clustering of livestock, and resurgence of debilitating conflict. Reduced productivity of livestock amidst rising food prices has severely compromised purchasing capacities and access to food, heightening malnutrition. Households are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) but are likely to decline to Emergency (Phase 4) if rains fail to restart. An additional 650,000 people in the northwestern and southern pastoral rangelands are also food insecure.

--Approximately 1.05 million people in the short rains-dependent southeast and coastal marginal agricultural areas are suffering heightened food insecurity. The near-total failure of the short-rains season caused extensive crop losses in the worst-affected districts of Mwingi, Kitui, Tharaka, Mwea, Kwale, Kilifi and Malindi. Depleted household food stocks, above-normal food prices, and reduced on-farm labor opportunities have caused declines in household food security for the poor and very poor.

--The prognosis for the 2011 long rains is not promising – below-normal rains are anticipated in drought-affected pastoral and marginal cropping lowlands. Food insecurity is anticipated to substantially rise, after a brief respite from April through July, due to the impacts of the poor long rains. Heightened food prices, rapidly depleting grazing resources, an expected increase in conflict, and likely upsurges in livestock and waterborne diseases could severely accentuate food insecurity for pastoral and marginal agricultural households after July.