Kenya: Mandera district 2008 long rains assessment report 14 - 18 Jul 2008



1.1 District Profile

The larger Mandera district is at the extreme end of North Eastern Province covering an area of 26,470 Km2 with approximately 325,000 inhabitants. The district has three dominant livelihood zones; Pastoral-all species- accounting for 28% mostly livestock keepers, agro pastoral in the western flank accounting for 40% practicing both livestock keeping and some farming, while Irrigated cropping zone along the river Daua in the north accounts for 32% of the population involved in small scale farming along the riverhine. About 80% of households in the larger mandera district derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from livestock and livestock products which are camels, cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys. However, an estimate of about 20-30% of the population is assumed to have dropped out of pastoralism.

1.2 History of relief operations

The district has been under emergency food aid since October 2004 with the highest caseload between March and September 2006 targeting 240,000 beneficiaries. The number of people requiring food aid reduced drastically to about 104,000 by September 2007, but after the poor performance of the 2007/2008 short rains which lead to an earlier than normal onset of draught, an assessment recommended the revision upward by 9% to 115,000 beneficiaries.

1.3 Food security trends

The 2007/2008 short rains ended earlier than normal leading to an early onset of drought. Long rains also started about 3 weeks late (after mid march) across the whole district and was poorly distributed with at least ten divisions recording about 50% of normal rains in the last month of the long rain season.

As a result, most water sources recharged poorly, leading to earlier than normal drying of some surface water sources e.g. all the pans in Takaba location, Shimbir Fatuma among others. Linked to the poor performance of rain was a total crop failure in rain fed cropping areas in the West. Pasture and browse availability which was very good both in quantity and quality since the beginning of the rains in March, started declining in the month of June.

Because of the decline in pasture condition, coupled with water scarcity especially in the west, livestock have been forced to migrate to the neighboring district of Wajir in search of pasture and water. This has lead to fewer animals left at the homesteads across the whole district and their body condition ranges from poor in Khalalio division while it is fair to good in the rest of the divisions. Milk supply is low while livestock prices especially for small stock have also declined due to their poor body condition attributed to poor pasture and disease (suspected to be Peste des Petit Ruminant-PPR) mainly in Dandu on the western part of Mandera.

Cereal prices on the other hand have probably continued to rise almost two fold in the remote markets thus affected HH purchasing power. However, market prices for Posho on the major markets showed remarkable stability.

After alarming GAM levels from nutritional assessments in March / April 2008, ALRM MUAC data and CHANIS data from district health facilities indicated and improvement in nutritional status of children despite constrained access to food at household level. This could be an indication that the ongoing interventions are meeting the basic requirements or the coping abilities of the households have not been outstretched.

Nonetheless, there is very high likelihood that the nutritional status may worsen fast over the coming two months as the water situation deteriorates leading to poor access to clean water for domestic use. Further deterioration of grazing resources is also expected to lead to further lack of animal products.