Short rains drive improvements in pastoral and marginal areas but with varying magnitude
As of mid-November, the short rains have been above average across most of the country, including in Mandera and most of Wajir; however, in other eastern areas to the south, amounts have ranged between 25 – 80 percent of normal, with some pockets in southeastern and coastal areas receiving less than 25 percent of normal rainfall. Even if rainfall continues through December, and 30 percent of the season’s rainfall typically occurs as normal, it is likely there will be some rainfall deficits that could impact marginal agricultural production and pastoral conditions.
Despite available harvests from the high and medium-producing areas, wholesale staple food prices remained above five-year averages between September and October in the urban markets of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret, with maize 7 – 25 percent above average and dry bean prices 18 – 31 percent above average. In response to the continued high prices and to facilitate greater household access, the Government of Kenya extended the maize subsidy program until the end of December 2017.
In the marginal agricultural areas, land preparation and wet planting are ongoing, providing about 70 – 75 percent of household income through casual labor opportunities. Dry planted maize and bean crops have already germinated in Meru, Embu, and Nyeri but are showing signs of water stress in Meru North. The improved household income and easing maize prices due to imports from high producing areas are improving household food access, but most poor households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
Across the pastoral areas, there continue to be improvements in water and forage availability, but the changes are less marked in eastern areas. Livestock have returned to homesteads and their prices are increasing due to improving body conditions, boosting milk availability and income at the household level. More poor households are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between November and December, but a majority of poor households are still expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).