By NECJOGHA TEAM
NAIROBI, KENYA: A food security group has said that due to the ongoing drought and a second consecutive below-average rainfall season, 1.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian food assistance.
“The negative impacts of the below-average October to December 2018 short rains season were largely mitigated by surplus crop production and livestock productivity realized during the preceeding March to May 2018 long rains season, which served to stabilize food prices and therefore food access for poor households. However, drought conditions that persisted through the 2019 long rains season have now significantly impacted household food and income sources, leading to widespread Crisis outcomes in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas in June. As the June to September dry season approaches, drought appears to be worsening in marginal agricultural areas in Kwale, Kilifi, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi (Tharaka), Makueni, and Lamu counties and in pastoral and agropastoral areas in Isiolo, Tana River, Samburu, and Baringo counties,” an update on the food situation in Kenya by an international group The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said on June 29th quoting the the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG)
FEWSNET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries.
The release by FEWSNET however says the number of people in need of food aid is exclusive of refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab.
The update says that according to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the March – May long rains season has officially ended and rains are expected only in the western and central parts of Kenya through the rest of June. Cumulative rainfall was 50-80 percent of average across eastern Kenya and 25-50 percent of average in Tana River county.
“In pastoral areas, the ongoing lean season will be more severe than usual, driven by anticipated declines in livestock prices and rising staple food prices. Poor households are expected to face increased difficulty purchasing their minimum food needs without engaging in crisis coping strategies and livelihood asset depletion. Crisis and Stressed outcomes are expected through September. The forecast average October-December short rains are expected to support improved livestock production, resulting in improvement from Crisis,” the update said.
On the price of maize which remained well below average in the first quarter of 2019, FEWSNET says that it has increased significantly since March, driven by declines in local market supply, declines in cross-border imports from Uganda and Ethiopia, and market speculation regarding the anticipated below-average long rains harvests. In urban markets, the wholesale price of maize was 8-12 percent above the five-year average while dry bean prices were 7-21 percent above average. Household purchasing power is expected to continue to decline throughout the scenario period.