Tharaka Nithi County: Drought Early Warning Bulletin for February 2014

Situation Report
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Situation Overview:

  • High temperatures and less cloud cover prevailed throughout the month with off season rainfall recorded in localized areas of Karocho and Ciakariga for two days while Kithino and Kathangachini for one day; the rainfall amounts were recorded in the 1 st dekad of February.

  • The quality and quantity of pasture and browse was fair to poor and have worsened compared to the previous month.

  • The main sources of water for domestic use and livestock utilization were rivers, shallow wells and piped water systems. The current situation is attributed to ongoing short dry spell and declining water volumes in available sources.

  • Distances to grazing areas increased from 4.23 km in January to 4.50 km in the period under review, which was above the long-term average of 2.66km for this time of the year.

  • Cattle body condition was fair across all livelihood zones however all other main species of livestock are currently in good to fair body condition across all the livelihood zones attributed to deteriorating quality of pasture and browse coupled with increasing distances to water sources across livelihoods. This was below normal observations at this time of the year.

  • The average price of cattle decreased from Ksh. 13,000 in January to Ksh. 12,111 in the period under review, which was above the long-term average of Ksh. 10,454 for this time of the year.

  • Livestock productivity has declined as evidenced by 15.07 percent reduction in milk production at household level, while the average household consumption decreased by 10.98 percent in February, as attributed to poor pastures and browse quality and increasing distance to grazing and water sources .

  • The average price for cereals remained high at Kshs. 40.00 for maize for the period under review in reference to similar price of Kshs. 40.00 recorded in January, which was above the long-term average of Ksh. 32 and the February 2013price, at Ksh.30 for this time of the year.

  • Millet maintained a stable high trend of price at Kshs. 43.00 for the period under review in comparison to Kshs. 44.00 recorded in January, which was above the long term mean of Ksh. 29 and the February 2013 price, at Ksh. 24 for this time of the year. High cereal prices are attributed to minimal harvest owing to poor performance of the short rains season.

  • The main source of household income in the period under review was casual labour contributing 29 percent and Sale of crops at 25 percent. Sale of commercial crops (Gardam sorghum and green grams) recorded a sharp increase from the 7percent recorded in January to 25 percent as households disposed off harvests in the month.

  • The MUAC measurements for children under five years decreased from 8.83 percent in January to 7.87 percent in February. Implying that 7.87 percent of the assessed children are at risk of suffering from malnutrition in the period under review. This is attributed to ongoing harvest availing food stocks at household level and interventions by Ministry of Health - Localized areas of Kanjoro, Ciakariga, Kamanyaki, Kathangacini, Kamarandi and Kanyuru need close monitoring on their food security; this is because of the minimal harvest, high cases of malnutrition and high food prices.

The overall Early Warning System phase for February was alert with a stable trend