Kenya: Wajir district 2008 long rains assessment report 21 - 25 Jul 2008



1.1 District Profile

Wajir District covers an area of 56,501 Km2 with a population of 533,587 settled in 13 administrative divisions with 74 locations. The district borders the republic of Somalia to the East, Republic of Ethiopia to the north and Mandera district to the north-east. The district is classified as arid land where rainfall is unpredictable and erratic, on average recording 250-300 mm annually. Annual evapo-transpiration is about 300 mm and temperatures are high, ranging between 28-390 Celsius. The soil types are mainly sandy and sandy loams with some pockets of clay and loam in the North.

There are four dominant livelihood zones; namely; Pastoral camel, Pastoral Cattle, Pastoral All species, Agro-Pastoral and Small Business.

1.2 History of relief operations

The district has been on emergency food assistance since 2004 up-to date with the highest caseload targeting 301,118 persons in 2006 drought season. Successive assements indicated positive gains on recovery was realized over the successive years leading to reduction of population requiring food assistance. Currently 139, 893 people are targeted for food aid.

1.3 Food security trends

1.3.1 Rainfall performance

The 2007/2008 short rains had mixed performance with crop production suffering negatively but having positive effects on pasture regeneration across the whole district.

Favourable recharge of water sources during the long rains season 2008 was depended on the timely rains, which however started about one month late (after mid March) in Central, Diff, Griftu and Wajir Bor as illustrated in figure 1. For the rest of the divisions, the rains were close to the seasonal normal. These areas include; Habaswein, Hadado, Kutulo and Sabuli as illustrated in figure 2 below.

Shallow wells in most divisions had good recharge however, a number of water pans have already dried up Bute, Buna, Eldas, Korondile, Habaswein and Griftu. Those currently holding water are expected to last for the next 1 to 2 months. Areas that will be most affected are those without permanent water sources or those that are low yielding e.g. Arbajahan in Griftu, Ingrir and Lesayu in Buna.

1.3.2 Trends of other Food Security Indicators

Pasture and browse condition is near season's normal in all divisions although declining in quality and quantity. Trekking distances to watering points and pasture are within seasonal norm. Inward migration of livestock from a neighboring country and Mandera may pose greatest risk contributing to stress on the grazing resources and may lead to early depletion (within 1-2months).

There are no unusual livestock disease outbreaks in the long rain's season. However, Peste des Petit Ruminant (PPR) Quarantine (since February 2008) continues to undermine sale of small stock. Livestock body condition is fair to good for all species and similarly their prices recorded slight increase.

Cereal prices on the other hand have continued to rise especially in the remote markets but the effect on household access to food has not been very obvious.

Trends of human diseases were normal over the season except a rise in cases of Kalazaar. Nutrition indicators show signs of improvement an indication that both food access and utilization have not been gravely compromised, but an upsurge in Kalazaar may undermine nutrition status of children below five years of age.

If the current trends in food security indicators persist and short rains are timely, majority of the households will have made gains that will ensure they can stand on their own. In the event of poor performance or delayed short rains, support will be required in water provision and nutrition.