The county was classified in the stressed food insecurity phase (IPC Phase 2). About 20 percent of the households were food insecure with either borderline or poor food consumption score. The global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates were 2.6 percent while crude death rate (CDR) was at 1/10,000/day. There was increase in coping strategy index (CSI) from 13 in the long rains assessment to 29 in the short rains assessment 2016.
The poor performance of the rainfall in the season led to minimal productivity consequently reducing food availability. Currently the expected production is 24 percent and 39 percent of the long-term average, for maize and cowpeas respectively. As a result, food crop prices have increased exemplified by maize prices ranging at Ksh 40 - 45 compared to a normal of Ksh 35 – 40. During the season there was destruction of the little field crops by Quilea birds in Mutomo,
Ikutha and Athi wards.
Poor performance of the short rains led to partial regeneration of pasture. High temperatures experienced in the county led to a fast deterioration of pasture and browse. Milk production and consumption per household was two litres and one litres respectively compared to a long term average production of three litres and a long term average consumption of two litres. Due to pasture stress and need for income to purchase food as well as school fees, farmers are doing distress sales of livestock which have led to upsurge of traded volumes in the markets. As a result a sharp decrease in livestock prices was recorded which was affecting household purchasing power exacerbated by high county poverty level that stands at 60.4 percent and county limited resilience to climatic shocks; livestock diseases; foot and mouth disease (FMD) and Mange, were reported. Average tropical livestock units (TLU) were at 2-3 which is low.
Earlier than usual livestock migration were reported along the border with Tana River County.
Conflict flare-ups over dwindling pasture and water resources was also reported in Ngomeni and Ukasi wards temporarily disrupting the livelihoods. Wages have declined, thus reducing household purchasing power and access to food. At the same time, domestic staple food prices have been high in recent months. Other sources of instability were heavy reliance on maize as a staple crop, pest and diseases and conflicts especially in Mwingi north.