Kenya Key Message Update: Consecutive below-average agricultural seasons increase household food insecurity, September 2021


Key Messages:

Across the marginal agricultural areas, household food stocks remain significantly below average following the below-average March to May long rains production. Household food stocks are expected to last through September/October compared to the typical November/December. According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) 2021 long rains assessment, the production of maize and pulses (green grams and cowpeas) ranged from 39-58 percent below average in the southeast, while in the coastal marginal agricultural areas, production of maize and pulses was 11-30 percent below average. The below-average household food stocks are continuing to drive atypically high market dependence for food. With below-average income from crop sales and agricultural waged labor opportunities, households increasingly rely on off-farm incomes and coping strategies indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to meet their non-food needs.

Across pastoral areas, an atypically high number of livestock are migrating to dry season grazing areas driven by the decline in rangeland and water resources. Between July and August, livestock trekking distances to watering points increased by 60-90 percent, likely driving the 13-55 percent decline in milk production compared to the three-year average. In August, milk production at the National Drought Management Authority's (NDMA) pastoral sentinel sites was recorded at around one to two liters per household per day. In the northwestern, southern, and southeastern pastoral areas, the goat-to-maize terms-of-trade ranges from average to 40 percent above average, but the goat-to-maize terms-of-trade in the northern and eastern pastoral areas are 15-37 percent below average, limiting poor household access to income for market purchases. Overall, the decline in livestock productivity and body conditions is constraining household access to food and income and maintaining area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across pastoral areas.

In August, staple food prices remained mixed due to the below-average long rains production, cross-border imports, and increased demand. Maize prices ranged between average to 9 percent below average in most monitored markets except in Isiolo, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Mandera, and Nairobi, where prices ranged between 8-37 percent above average due to reduced local supply following the below-average long rains season and reduced cross border imports from Ethiopia. Bean prices were average in Kitui and Eldoret but ranged between 6-41 percent above average across all other monitored markets following four consecutive below-average production seasons. On September 15, Tanzania began requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test to all travelers, including truck drivers, which is likely to cause delays in food import supply chains.

As of September 28, Kenya has a seven-day rolling average of 276 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 5.1 percent. According to the Ministry of Health, from September 20-26, around 24 percent of confirmed cases were reported in Nairobi County. Nationally, the COVID-19 Delta variant accounts for 97 percent of all new infections. The government has announced plans to manufacture vaccines in early 2022 to improve availability and enhance the national vaccination rate. As of September 26, Kenya has administered at least 3.6 million COVID-19 vaccines, enough to vaccinate around 5 percent of the population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.