The Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) in conjunction with the Kitui County Steering Group (CSG) carried out a joint long-rains food security assessment whose overall aim was to develop an objective, evidence-based and transparent food security situation analysis following the March to May long rains season of 2019, taking into consideration the cumulative effects of previous seasons, and to provide actionable recommendations for possible response options based on the situation analysis. This assessment was carried out from 15th to 19 th July.
The March to May long rains are typically erratic and are less dependable compared to the October to December short rains. The 2019 long rains were exceptionally below average, characterized by a late onset of 30 days and poor spatial and temporal distribution. Cumulative seasonal totals ranged between 50-75 percent of normal. The season was also characterized by atypically high land surface temperatures that ranged between 0.8-7.5 Degrees Celsius above average.
Crop performance was significantly below average, with yields of maize, green grams and cowpeas projected at four percent, nine percent and six percent of the five-year averages.
Household stocks held were considerably low due to lack of carry-over stocks from the below average 2019 short rains and the current poor crop performance. Maize stocks held by households are at 24 percent of the five-year average, expected to only last a month. Majority of households were relying on markets for their weekly supplies. Pastures range from fair to poor and are expected to only last a month. The body conditions of livestock range from good to fair. However, given the rapidly depleting pastures and browse, and the lack of farm residues for fodder, body conditions will rapidly deteriorate. Most open water sources have dried up following poor recharge during the season, thereby increasing trekking distances and lowering watering frequencies.
Markets are well provisioned but supplied from outside the county.
Traders are having below average food stocks due to the absence of local supplies and the high cost of imports. Currently, maize stocks held by traders are 35 percent of the long-term average.
Staple food prices are significantly above average, while livestock prices have declined to nearaverage levels. As a result, terms of trade, and by extension, household purchasing power have been considerably eroded.
Food consumption has deteriorated compared to the short rains season. About 72.1, 24.3 and 3.5 percent of households had acceptable, borderline and poor food consumption scores respectively.
More poor households in the Marginal Mixed Farming Livelihood Zone were employing Crisis consumption-based coping strategies than in the Mixed Farming Livelihood Zone, indicative of increasing food gaps. Majority of households were consuming one meal a day compared to 2-3 meals a day normally. The risk of malnutrition among children under the age of five years was below the five-year average at eight percent.
Currently, the Marginal Mixed Farming Livelihood Zone is classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3) while the Mixed Farming Livelihood Zone is classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2).