Kenya Food Security Outlook Update, December 2020

Situation Report
Originally published
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Mixed short rains likely to negatively impact crop production and range resources regeneration

Key Messages

  • The October to December short rains has had a mixed performance across the country. According to data from CHIRPS, cumulative rainfall across eastern and central Kenya rainfall has largely been below-average, ranging from 50-80 percent of average, with localized areas receiving 25-50 percent of average. However, western, northwestern, and southern parts of the country have received average to over 150 percent of average rainfall.

  • In the marginal areas, crop production is ongoing and providing below average casual labor income opportunities. Crop conditions are good, with maize mostly at the knee-high stage with pulses and potatoes at the flowering stage. Household food stocks are dwindling, and households are mostly dependent on market food purchases and facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In the pastoral areas, goat prices are above the five-year averages and supporting household food access. However, milk production is below average, and livestock have begun migrating to dry season grazing areas within the counties. This is reducing household food consumption, increasing malnutrition, and driving Stressed (IPC Phase2) outcomes.

  • There was a second wave of COVID-19 infections in November, with the highest number of cases and fatalities since the virus was first reported. A Level 4 alert for Kenya was issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Counties identified as high risk are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu, Busia, Machakos, Kisumu, and Kilifi. The government is likely to consider implementing stricter control measures to curb the surge in coronavirus infections.

  • In November, the World Bank reported that one in three workers in Kenya is currently employed by firms that face a high risk of temporary or permanent closure, while unemployment has doubled compared to pre-COVID times. Poor urban households continue to rely heavily on credit facilities to narrow food gaps from constrained incomes, further sustaining atypically high indebtedness. Households in the informal settlements are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with the most affected households engaging in coping strategies indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.