Tharaka Nithi County: 2017 Long Rains Food Security Assessment Report (July 2017)



The main drivers of food insecurity in Tharaka Nithi County are poor rainfall performance and high food commodity prices. The county depends on rainfall for both crop and livestock production. The poor performance has affected forage availability for livestock as well as crop production through poor harvest. The household stocks are 21 percent of the long term average (LTA).Cereal prices and especially maize has been on an upward trend even though the price as from May is declining though still above the long term average for the season. The price of the other commodities remains relatively high. The terms of trade are below the long term average, an indication that the household’s purchasing power has been compromised.

The four dimensions of food security have been affected differently. Food is physically available in the households (21 percent of LTA) and markets (31 percent of LTA). Water for both domestic and livestock use is available in the water sources. However, financial access has been affected by the poor terms of trade and poor road network especially in the marginal livelihood areas. Utilization of food has been affected by consumption of less preferred foods as households readjust to cope with the food gaps. Moreover, about 50 percent of households treat water, leaving the rest exposed to water borne diseases. The available household stocks are likely to be depleted within one month and the traders are expected to bridge the gap with supplies from outside the county. However market operations are expected to be normal. Due to over abstraction of water from the permanent rivers in the upstream, these sources are likely to dry or be severely stressed. The latter will also affect the other water sources. Pasture and browse is expected to be depleted within two months.

Majority of households are having borderline food consumption scores (52.5 percent) with 19 percent having a poor food consumption score, while the coping strategy index is 14. The percentage of children at risk of malnutrition is stable at nine percent, although above the long term average of 7.9 percent.

The region’s food security situation is classified in the ‘stressed phase or ‘phase two’ , an indication that even with any humanitarian assistance, at least one in five households in the area have the following or worse: Minimally adequate food consumption but are unable to afford some essential non food expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies. The actions required are those geared towards disaster risk reduction and to protect livelihoods.