Food security improvements driven by above-average long rains and low staple food prices
Countrywide, the historically above-average 2018 March to May long rains have continued to drive food security improvements. The marginal areas are currently supported by available harvests and are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), and food availability will increase even further, beginning in October, with harvesting from the high and medium-producing areas. Despite significantly improved livestock productivity and above-average terms-of-trade in pastoral areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist through January 2019.
With an average to above-average forecast for the October to December short rains, livelihood recovery from the 2016/17 drought is expected to continue in pastoral areas. Improved rangeland resources are expected to sustain above-average livestock body conditions, increasing household income. In the marginal areas, despite a mixed long rains crop performance, above-average household food stocks across the zone and below-average staple food prices are supporting household food access. However, parts of Makueni and Lamu and households in Embu (Mbeere) are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through January 2019 due to below-average production.
While the nutrition situation has improved significantly across Kenya compared to February 2018, with better food access and consumption, findings from the recent Long Rains Assessment (LRA) indicate that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) remains Critical (15-29.9 percent) in Turkana, Samburu, Mandera, Baringo (East Pokot), and Marsabit (North Horr). While these levels are concerning, they are in part attributed to non-food security factors, such as poor childcare feeding practices and access to health facilities and are projected to remain stable through the outlook period.
National: The recently concluded 2018 LRA carried out by the Kenya Food Security Steering group, which FEWS NET participated in, found that the food security situation has improved significantly across the country, particularly in the pastoral counties. Generally, income sources in pastoral areas are above normal, facilitating needed market food purchases, as livestock prices remain above average, sustained by the available forage and water resources. In the marginal agricultural areas, income from crop sales remains below normal due to below-average staple food prices. However, this is offset by higher income from livestock sales due to good livestock body conditions and above-average casual labor opportunities from harvesting of the long rains crop and land preparation for the expected average to above-average short rains cropping season.