In January, the ongoing short rains harvest and above-normal gains in livestock sale values and milk productivity are driving widespread improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, staple food prices remained atypically high in December and households in riverine and low-lying areas are still recovering from extreme rainfall and floods during the short rains season. According to the Government of Kenya, the floods affected about 470,000 people, displaced more than 145,000 people, destroyed more than 10,000 acres of cropland, and resulted in the deaths of 266 people and more than 28,000 heads of livestock. In Tana River, Mandera, Wajir, and West Pokot counties, households in areas that were worst affected by floods likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Desert locusts entered Kenya from Somalia through Wajir and Mandera in late December and quickly spread to 15 additional counties (Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Lamu, Meru, Samburu, Laikipia, Kirinyaga, Tana River, Embu, Kitui, Baringo and Machakos). Although the impact on crops and rangelands are relatively limited to date, locusts pose a significant threat to ongoing cash crop production and the cereal production season that begins in February and March. Together with partners, the national government is implementing aerial control measures to combat the locusts. However, there are access challenges in insecure areas in the northeast. Based on conducive ecological conditions for breeding and spreading, the FAO Locust Watch warns that the infestation is likely to persist through June.
In southeastern marginal agricultural areas, green and dry harvests of beans, green grams, cowpeas and pigeon peas are ongoing while maize is nearing maturity. Despite localized crop losses from floods, the maize harvest is likely to range between average to above average on the county level. However, coastal marginal agricultural areas such as Kilifi and Kwale expect a delayed harvest, supported by a forecast of atypical rainfall in January that will be conducive for late crop development. Short-cycle legume production is likely to range from average to below average, given flooding and excessive soil moisture that led to rotting.
In pastoral areas, forage conditions and water resources are above normal in most areas, which has generally led to good livestock body conditions, above-average milk production, and a reduction in trekking distances to domestic and livestock water sources. In Isiolo and Marsabit counties, daily household milk production is nearly double the average amounts. In parts of Mandera, however, forage availability is more varied and livestock body conditions are fair as they slowly recover from the preceding drought.
The delayed long rains harvest in western Kenya’s high and medium production areas and low cross border imports continued to drive high staple food prices in many key reference markets in December. Maize prices in urban reference markets were 20-48 percent above the five-year average, while maize prices in most rural markets were 12-55 percent above average. However, maize prices are likely to drop from January through March as harvests from high and medium production areas and marginal agricultural areas reach the market.
Livestock prices in most pastoral key reference markets ranged from near average to 42 percent above average in December. Above-average livestock prices are driving gains in household purchasing power despite high maize prices. In Mandera, however, livestock prices were 23 percent below average, attributed in part due to market oversupply as households were seeking income for school fees and in part due to market disruptions caused by insecurity. The goat-to-maize terms of trade were 6-23 percent above average in December, except in Turkana and Mandera where they remained near average and 24 percent below average, respectively.