Kenya: GIEWS Country Brief: Kenya 17-November-2016


  • “Short-rains” crop production severely affected by dry weather conditions

  • “Long-rains” crop production expected at average levels

  • Dry weather conditions affecting pasture availability in most eastern and northeastern areas

  • Prices of maize firm or on the rise in most markets

  • Severe food insecurity in most agro-pastoral and pastoral areas

Unfavourable prospects for 2016/17 “short-rains” season crops

In southeastern and coastal bi-modal rainfall areas, planting of the 2016/17 “short-rains” season crops, which accounts for 70 percent of the total annual production and normally starts in mid-October, has been significantly delayed by severe dry weather conditions. As of the first dekad of November, very minimal rains have been received and most farmers have been unable to plant so far. Some farmers decided to early dry plant and most germinating crops wilted. As rains continue to be unfavourable, planted areas are very likely to be well below-average. The FAO Agricultural Stress Index (ASI) indicates a significant risk of drought conditions developing, especially in cropping areas of the coastal counties of Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu (see red area in ASI map). According to the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) forecast, the remainder of the season (October-December) is likely to be characterized by low and erratic amounts of rains that will severely constrain the possibility of crops to recover. As a result, “short-rains” production prospects are unfavorable, leading to a second consecutive poor harvest in these areas after the below-average “long-rains” output gathered last August/September.

Average production expected from 2016 “long-rains” season crops

In western uni-modal rainfall areas, harvesting of the 2016 “long‑rains” season crops is ongoing and will continue until the end of the year. Production is forecast at average levels as precipitations in most surplus‑producing areas resumed after a prolonged dry spell between end‑May and early June with a positive effect on yields.

Aggregate cereal production in 2016 is early forecast at low 4.1 million tonnes, mainly due to the below-average output expected for the “short-rains” season crops to be harvested early next year. Accordingly, cereal import requirements for the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June) are set at 2.7 million, about 15 percent higher than the level of the average of the previous five years.

Dry weather affecting grazing resources in eastern and northeastern pastoral areas

Poor rains affected pasture, browse and water availability in the most pastoral and agro-pastoral areas. The (March‑May) “long-rains” were characterized by a late start and low rainfall amounts, especially in eastern and northeastern Garissa, Marsabit and Tana River counties, limiting pasture regeneration before the start of the August-October dry season. The poor start of the ongoing “short-rains” season has caused a further deterioration of pasture conditions in these areas. As a result, milk production in October was up to 80 percent below-average, livestock body conditions are generally poor and drought-related deaths of animals have been reported in Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu counties. Trekking distances are increasing and animals tend to concentrate in the remaining areas with some pasture, causing its quick deterioration. As the remaining part of the “short-rains” season is forecast to be below-average in cumulative amounts, rangeland conditions are expected to remain depressed and a faster-than-normal depletion is expected to take place during the next dry season between January and March 2017.

Maize prices firm or increasing in October

In most markets, wholesale prices of maize remained firm or increased in October despite the ongoing “long-rains” main season harvest. Prices of maize in October were around their year-earlier levels in Nairobi and Mombasa, the largest urban areas, as sustained imports from neighbouring Uganda contributed to contain the recent price increases. By contrast, October prices were well above their levels of one year earlier in other monitored markets, including Kisumu, located in a deficit rural area and Eldoret located in a key surplus-producing area of the Rift Valley.

Concerning food insecurity conditions in most pastoral and agro-pastoral areas

According to the latest national food security assessment, the overall number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is estimated at about 1.25 million, up from 700 000 in February 2016. The most acute food insecure people are located in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas, with a higher concentration in Tana River, Garissa and Isiolo counties. The poor performance of the ongoing “short-rains” has induced households to keep much of their livestock in the dry season grazing areas, limiting access to livestock products as a source of food and income. Although livestock body conditions and milk production may slightly improve during the remainder of the rainy season, the overall food availability and access for most pastoral households is expected to be very low until the start of the 2017 “long-rains” season in March.

In southeastern and coastal areas, most households have already depleted food stocks from the below-average “long-rains” harvest gathered last July/August and mostly rely on local markets to satisfy their food needs. In addition, the reduced and delayed planting activities of “short-rains” crops due to current dry weather conditions have significantly limited casual labour opportunities and household incomes, thus constraining food access.

The country hosts a large number of refugees and asylum seekers, with about 330 000 refugees from the Federal Republic of Somalia as of late September 2016. About 80 percent of them reside in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Garissa county where access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, water and sanitation is often precarious due to a high concentration of people. In addition, as of late October, about 90 000 refugees have crossed over to Kenya since violence erupted in South Sudan in mid‑December 2013, with most of them currently residing in the northwestern area of Kakuma in Turkana county.

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