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Kenya Food Security Outlook Update, February to September 2020

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Control measures and favorable rainfall anticipated to mitigate impact of desert locust upsurge

Key Messages

  • Based on data collected during the 2019 short rains assessment, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that 1.3 million Kenyans are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes, a decline of nearly 50 percent compared to the preceding long rains season. Although floods in late 2019 caused crop and livestock losses, the above-average 2019 short rains season led to favorable harvests in most marginal agricultural areas as well as above-average livestock sale values and milk productivity. Many areas of concern have improved to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in Tana Riverine livelihood zone, where 55 percent of planted area was destroyed.[1]

  • Desert locusts are present in 21 counties of Kenya, but the impact on food security has been localized and limited to date. In pastoral areas, rangeland resource availability is historically above normal and livestock migration is atypically low. In marginal agricultural areas, net short rains production is approximately 26 percent above the long-term average. Crop losses in late 2019 were primarily affected by heavy rainfall, including post-harvest losses equivalent to more than 10 percent of unimodal production in high and medium potential areas.

  • Food availability has improved in early 2020 compared to late 2019, but the delayed unimodal maize harvest, below-average beans harvest, and tight regional supply are still driving high maize and bean prices. In February, the retail maize price in key urban and rural reference markets reached up to 33 percent above the five-year average while wholesale bean prices reached up to 40 percent above the five-year average. However, livestock price increases have outpaced maize price increases and the goat-to-maize terms of trade ranged from 15 to 55 percent above average.

  • A forecast of above-average March to May rainfall is expected to consolidate recent gains in livestock production and lead to near-normal crop production, driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through September. The negative impacts of desert locust are expected to be mitigated by current and planned control efforts, headwinds and cooler temperatures that discourage locusts from entering high production areas, and the likelihood that rainfall will regenerate pasture. Areas of greatest concern include Tana Riverine areas, where households are still recovering from the floods, and parts of Northeastern Pastoral livelihood zone, where insecurity will limit control efforts.

[1] FEWS NET is a member of the KFSSG. However, FEWS NET’s mapping units differ from the KFSSG, leading to a difference in mapped outcomes.