Poor crop and livestock production and COVID-19 restrictions drive food insecurity
According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) 2021 Long Rains Assessment (LRA), the poor 2021 March to May long rains resulted in below- average crop production in marginal agricultural areas, reducing casual labor opportunities and household food availability, driving area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In the pastoral areas, below-average rangeland regeneration has negatively impacted livestock production, resulting in below- average milk production and consumption and high staple food prices, driving area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. The national COVID-19 restrictions have continued to primarily impact the urban poor by restricting income- earning opportunities and driving many urban poor households to engage in coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Following the July National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) bulletins, a drought alert for arid and semi-arid areas was declared for most pastoral and marginal agricultural areas across Kenya following the poor March-May long rains. According to the 2021 KFSSG Long Rains Assessment, the population in need of humanitarian assistance in the arid and semi-arid areas increased by 47 percent since the Short Rains Assessment in February 2021 due to the compounding effects of consecutive below-average rainfall seasons on crop and livestock production, coupled with the protracted effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
As of August 30, 2021,Kenya has confirmed 235,298 COVID-19 cases with a daily test positivity rate of 9.7 percent despite ongoing vaccination efforts. On August 18, the government extended the 10 pm to 4 am curfew for 60 days and extended the ban on political rallies, meetings, and gatherings following a sharp rise in national COVID-19 cases. However, public service vehicles have resumed carrying passengers at full capacity, likely reducing transportation costs. In urban areas, particularly the informal settlements, at least one in five poor households are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as income-earning opportunities remain limited due to the economic effects of the pandemic and protracted COVID-19 control measures.
In July, wholesale maize prices in the urban reference markets were within the five-year average in Kisumu and 7-16 below average in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Eldoret, supported by cross-border supplies. In the marginal agricultural areas, maize prices are 7-17 percent below the five-year average supported by the ongoing long rains harvests. In the pastoral areas, maize prices were 14 percent below average in Turkana due to supplies from Trans Nzoia County and Uganda but were 6-32 percent above average across the rest of the pastoral markets due to sustained high demand for human and livestock consumption. In the pastoral markets, goat prices were average in Marsabit, 9-13 percent above average in Isiolo and Garissa due to fair body conditions, and 7-11 percent below average in Wajir and Turkana due to below-average livestock body conditions and oversupply to the market as households sell livestock for income.