Below-average long rains bring about short-lived improvements
Near Term: February - May 2017
Medium Term: June - September 2017
Despite enhanced rainfall in mid-May, which caused flooding in some isolated areas, the March – May long rains have been moderately to significantly below average across the arid and semi-arid counties, ranging between 25 – 75 percent of normal and poorly distributed in time and space. Flooding in Kilifi, Kwale, and Taita Taveta counties affected about 2,500 households, destroying infrastructure, property, and recently planted farms. In Dukana and Maikona areas of Marsabit County, about 20,000 livestock were lost.
Pastoral areas have experienced modest improvements in water availability and forage, but these are expected to be short-lived. A May mid-season assessment by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) that included FEWS NET determined that food insecurity is set to increase from late June, with more poor households likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Ongoing humanitarian assistance is preventing worse food security outcomes, especially in Turkana, given the scale of assistance.
Crop production activities are ongoing in the marginal agricultural areas, with crops ranging from germination to knee-height due to late planting. Below-average production is expected during the July harvest due to a high probability that there will not be adequate rainfall through the end of the season and the Fall and African armyworm infestation that has already affected about 69,000 hectares of cropland. More households in these areas are expected to move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) after the harvest, from August onwards, as household food availability and consumption declines.
Staple food prices in both urban and rural markets have steadily risen since January and are 20 – 60 percent above five-year averages, prompting the Government of Kenya to intervene by subsidizing sifted maize flour and authorizing the importation of about six million bags of maize to offset the deficit and stabilize prices. Food access is expected to be constrained by high prices until July when they are likely to begin falling. In pastoral areas, terms of trade remain below-average as livestock prices remain low amidst higher staple food prices, constraining purchasing power, and leading to growing household food consumption gaps.