National Drought Early Warning Bulletin (March 2020)

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➢ Most ASAL counties received unexpected off-season rains that were enhanced in comparison with the long term mean for the month.

➢ Sustained improvement in vegetation condition was observed across all ASAL counties as a result of the enhanced performance of the short rains season and the off-season rains received during the month of February. Consequently all the 23 arid and semi-arid counties are currently categorized in the above normal vegetation greenness class.

➢ Return distances to water for households have generally reduced in all the 23 ASAL counties. Similarly, in nearly all ASAL counties access to water for livestock is currently below the seasonal average.

➢ Across all the ASAL areas, higher availability of pasture and browse and lower return trekking distances between water points and grazing fields has led to general improvement in livestock body condition, which has in turn boosted overall livestock productivity including increased milk production.

➢ The above average performance of the short rains has led to a favourable crop production situation across the marginal agricultural counties. In most counties harvesting has already been completed with majority of the semi-arid counties reporting above average crop production.

➢ In almost 80 percent of the ASAL counties the terms of trade (ToT) were above or close to LTA in February 2020. An indication that household purchasing power as measured by the goat to maize terms of trade is broadly favorable due to high livestock prices.

➢ The nutrition status of children in most counties improved in February with most counties now on a stable or improving trend. This improvement was attributed to higher milk consumption in pastoral counties and improved dietary diversity due to availability of green vegetables and pulses in the marginal agricultural counties.

➢ On the basis of the range of indicators monitored which includes: rainfall performance, vegetation condition and the state of water sources, all the 23 ASAL counties are currently categorized in the normal drought phase, with the trend worsening in only one county, improving in 5 counties while a stable trend was observed in 17 counties.