Kenya Food Security Outlook, June 2019 to January 2020

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected in many pastoral areas during the lean season

Key Messages

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the March – May long rains season has officially ended and rains are expected only in the western and central parts of Kenya through the rest of June. Cumulative rainfall was 50-80 percent of average across eastern Kenya and 25-50 percent of average in Tana River county. Due to ongoing drought and a second consecutive below-average rainfall season, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that 1.6 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in need of humanitarian food assistance.

In pastoral areas, the ongoing lean season will be more severe than usual, driven by anticipated declines in livestock prices and rising staple food prices. Poor households are expected to face increased difficulty purchasing their minimum food needs without engaging in crisis coping strategies and livelihood asset depletion. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through September. The forecast average October-December short rains are expected to support improved livestock production, resulting in improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

In marginal agricultural areas, maize production is expected to be less than 50 percent of average and delayed to August. Poor households are expected to increasingly rely on consumption coping strategies through September to cope with exhausted household food stocks, below-average agricultural labor, and rising staple food prices. However, income from typical livelihoods activities during the short rains season is expected to stabilize food security outcomes until the arrival of next harvest in January. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the scenario period.

The price of maize, which remained well below average in the first quarter of 2019, has increased significantly since March, driven by declines in local market supply, declines in cross-border imports from Uganda and Ethiopia, and market speculation regarding the anticipated below-average long rains harvests. In urban markets, the wholesale price of maize was 8-12 percent above the five-year average while dry bean prices were 7-21 percent above average. Household purchasing power is expected to continue to decline throughout the scenario period.