Food insecure population expected to peak in October
As the dry season progresses in eastern Kenya, the food insecure population is expected to continue to rise through October. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are widespread. However, cumulative rainfall in the west and northwest has been above average since May, which is driving relative improvements in livestock and crop production. Forage and water resources are recovering in Turkana and West Pokot, leading most livestock to migrate back to wet season grazing areas. In unimodal high potential agricultural areas, including Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, and Nakuru, maize crops are now in the early maturation stages. Despite significant crop recovery since mid-season, total unimodal long rains maize production is still expected to be 15-25 percent below average.
In August, high food prices continued to constrain food access for poor households. Wholesale maize prices in most urban and rural reference markets ranged from eight to 35 percent above the five-year average, driven by below-average local supply and cross-border imports as well as maize hoarding and price speculation. However, local prices continue to differ in select markets due to proximity to domestic source markets or cross-border trade flows. In Marsabit, prices are near average given the availability of imports from Ethiopia. In Turkana, prices are 10 percent below average given the availability of supplies from Trans Nzoia and Uganda.
Food insecurity in pastoral areas remains elevated and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present across most pastoral livelihood zones. Return trekking distances for livestock from grazing areas to water sources have continued to increase and are 15-50 percent above normal. Longer distances are driving declines in body conditions, milk productivity, and sale values. Increasing levels of atypical migration across Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, and Tana River continue to lead to resource-based conflict events and disrupt livelihoods activities. In Garissa, Mandera, and Wajir, the goat-to-maize terms of trade have declined to 26-36 percent below the five-year average. In other counties, the terms of trade have declined to near-average levels.
In marginal agricultural areas, most poor households have already depleted own-produced food stocks from the below-average long rains harvests and are relying on markets for high-priced food commodities. In mid- to late September, agricultural labor demand for land preparation began to seasonally increase. Although this is beginning to increase poor households’ income, their total income remains below normal. To meet their food and non-food needs, households are increasingly relying on limited alternative income sources at an atypical point in the season, including petty trade, remittances, casual labor, and livestock sales. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in most areas, while parts of Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kitui, and Meru continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).