Kenya: Pastoral Northwest Cluster Acute Food Insecurity Situation in August 2013 and Projection for September 2013 - February 2014
01.08.2013 > 28.02.2014


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Food security is largely rainfall dependent in Kenya. This makes the assessment of the performance of the bimodal nature of rainfall on crops and livestock of great importance. Basically, Kenya can be divided into two broad - the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) zone and a Medium- to High-potential cropping and livestock zone. This report is a presentation of the 2013 long rains performance in the Arid and Semi-Arid zones covering all the pastoral livelihood zones, southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones. While the long rain season is more reliable (primary) in the Medium- to High-potential areas, it is less reliable (secondary) in the ASAL areas.

A total of 23 counties were covered during the assessment that was conducted between August and September 2013. The aim was to provide an objective, evidence-based and transparent food security situation analysis following the long rains season of 2013, by taking into account the cumulative effect of previous seasons on key indicators. Moreover, the assessments targeted to give a timely food security prognosis as well as provide recommendations for possible response options.

Food insecure population
The population in need of emergency assistance declined from 1.1 million to 0.85 million, between February 2013 and August 2013.
This is mainly attributed to the implementation of various resilient programs and average performance of the current and previous rainfall seasons. Of the total population in need of food assistance, 63% was located in the pastoral livelihoods in the northeast, northwest and agro-pastoral livelihood zones while 37% is located and equally distributed in the southeast and coastal marginal agriculture areas.

Food and Nutrition Security Status 
Based on the effects of rainfall, availability of some food stocks at household level and replenished markets, and availability of milk, food security showed a general improvement or stability. However the situation is largely classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in much of the southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture livelihoods, the pastoral northwest and northeast clusters and parts of the agro-pastoral cluster including West Pokot, Laikipia, Baringo, and Kajiado County. There were notable improvements to the Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in localized parts including the upper relatively high altitude areas of Makueni County and parts of Meru North County that received consistent and above average long rains and much of the agro-pastoral cluster.

Nutrition status was assessed in terms of the proportion of children below five years 'at risk' of malnutrition. Results indicated that the levels of nutrition had improved in much of the livelihood zones, remaining below the five-year average between February and August due to the effects of the long rains. In part, the decline in malnutrition was attributed to the ongoing supplementation programs and the generally good availability of milk across the livelihoods.

Food security situation in the projected period
The food security situation is expected to remain stable in most of the agro-pastoral livelihood zone in both Samburu and Turkana counties except in Marsabit, and no acute food insecurity is anticipated over the next five months in these areas owing to the off season precipitation which will further improve the forage situation and water availability. If the expected short rains are favorable, the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas are likely to improve further as the available pasture will be sufficient up to the next season. Crop production in the irrigation schemes would further improve availability of food. The pastoral livelihood zone is however likely to deteriorate in the next two to three months as the remaining grazing resources diminish. Distances to and waiting time at water sources are likely to continue increasing. Therefore, households are likely to continue experiencing shortfalls in food consumption. Malnutrition rates are likely to be on the increasing trend with the seasonal decline in the food security situation. However in Marsabit County the food security situation is expected to deteriorate further across all livelihood zones in the next three months. Livestock are likely to move further from their settlements in search of water and pastures aggravating the situation further. The food security situation is expected to begin improving across the cluster from the month of November when the impacts of the short rains are expected to rejuvenate pastures and replenish water sources across all livelihood zones.

The main factors affecting food security in the cluster were:

  • high food commodity prices in the market
  • escalation of conflicts over grazing resources predominantly in the pastoral and agro pastoral zone of Turkana and Samburu
  • Locust invasion occurred in northern Turkana between July and August
  • poor road infrastructure in Samburu County
  • reduced livestock productivity in agro-pastoral area in Turkana
  • limited household food stocks in Marsabit County.

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