Below-average short rains harvest and declining livestock body conditions drive food insecurity
Based on data collected during the 2020 short rains assessment, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that around 1.4 million Kenyans in arid and semi-arid areas are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, an increase of 93 percent compared to the preceding long rains season. Cumulatively below-average rainfall across eastern Kenya resulted in a poor harvest in marginal agricultural livelihood zones and declines in rangeland resources in pastoral areas driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across northern and eastern Kenya.
The COVID-19 control measures continue to impact income-earning opportunities for both urban and rural poor households. In urban areas, reduced income-earning opportunities for casual labor and petty trade are limiting household purchasing power and driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes for poor households. In the rural areas, the indirect impacts of COVID-19 such as increased transportation costs, market supply chain slowdowns, below-average non-agricultural labor opportunities, and reduced remittances have lowered poor household access to food and income, contributing to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
According to FAO's Desert Locust Bulletin, the northern desert locust invasion peak passed in early February. However, there are numerous small but highly mobile immature swarms in 24 counties across northern and central Kenya. Control operations have been effective and remaining swarms are smaller and less numerous compared to 2020. Rainfall in late February is likely to allow swarms to mature rapidly and lay eggs, with hatching in late March.
The forecast below-average 2021 March to May long rains are expected to negatively impact crop production and rangeland resource regeneration. Below-average household food stocks and income-earning opportunities, and declining livestock body conditions are expected to limit food and income access maintaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across marginal agricultural and pastoral areas. However, the February-August 2021 long rains season for western Kenya is likely to be above average improving national market supply.