Like its neighbors in the Horn of Africa, Kenya is experiencing extreme drought conditions and some 3.5 million people are facing severe starvation.
Following the failure of a third consecutive rainy season in eastern and northern Kenya, most of the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) are experiencing critical drought conditions. According to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net), 3.5 million people are expected to be food insecure IPC (Integrated food security Phase Classification) and above, including more than 360,000 people in IPC 4 (Emergency).
With rainfall, below 60% of the 40-year average across most of Kenya, widespread livestock mortalities, minimal livestock productivity, very low cropping levels and a sharp drop in purchasing power are creating challenges. wide gaps in food consumption and high levels of acute malnutrition.
Deteriorating food insecurity is attributed to multiple shocks, including dry spells following three consecutive low seasonal rainfall events (all below the five-year average), below-average agricultural and livestock production, localized conflict related resources and the effects of the covid19 pandemic. Added to this is a fuel crisis linked to the war in Ukraine – which has been felt across Africa and rising fuel prices are driving up the price of all foodstuffs. Ukraine has also captured much of the world’s attention and resources.
The current drought is already historic in its duration and severity. Long-range forecast models now predict a high probability of another (the fifth) rainy season below average for the “short rains” from October to December, paving the way for an unprecedented five-season drought , which will further increase gravity and escalation. food needs until 2023.
Severity of humanitarian conditions
1. Impact on the accessibility, availability, quality, use and awareness of goods and services.
Marginal pastoral and agricultural areas in eastern and northern Kenya received only minimal rainfall during the long downpours from March to May 2022 of the rainy season, marking the fourth consecutive below-average season. Widespread livestock mortality, minimal livestock productivity, very low cropping levels and steep declines in purchasing power are creating large gaps in food consumption and high levels of acute malnutrition among millions of households across the country. eastern and northern Kenya.
Fifteen of the 23 ASAL counties are experiencing widespread water stress, with recent rains (October to December) having replenished less than 50% of surface water sources. Additionally, many water sources that are generally resilient to climate variability have dried up in Kenya, dramatically increasing walking distances to and from water sources for livestock and communities. Severe extreme vegetation deficits and water stress in some areas, along with flooding in others, have resulted in high livestock mortality through early 2022.
Most of the areas that have experienced food insecurity are in the ASAL areas of Kenya, where communities practice agro-pastoralism and pastoralism and therefore rely primarily on meat and milk for nutrition and income. Three consecutive failed rainy seasons, resulting in crop losses and extremely high livestock mortality, have had a devastating effect on community livelihoods.
Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) suggests much longer trekking distances, and reports suggest up to 1.5 million head of livestock, particularly cattle and sheep, have died between October 2021 and March 2022. Cattle milk production, a key source of food and cash income for pastoralists, is 10 to 80% below average. The overall decline in household access to food is driving up levels of acute malnutrition.
Lack of rain also leads to displacement as families are forced to move in search of water and pasture, leading to inter-community conflict. Disruption of markets has also been noted, further limiting communities’ access to income and food. Poor households increasingly depend on off-farm wage labor opportunities, firewood and charcoal sales, and petty trade to fill income gaps and support market purchases.
As a result of the above, malnutrition rates remain high and could worsen if no immediate humanitarian assistance is provided. Around 755,000 children under five in Kenya are likely to be acutely malnourished throughout 2022 and need treatment. Around 103,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are likely to be acutely malnourished and in need of treatment.
2. Impact on physical and mental well-being
The drought exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and social marginalization of women and caused displacement, with the majority of those displaced being women and children. Drought also places an additional burden on women in terms of household food consumption, water collection and family responsibilities, which puts them at greater risk. The impact of drought is reflected in the extent and nature of vulnerability and poverty and in the increased risk of falling into poverty, losing self-reliance and facing increased discrimination and marginalization.
Droughts also negatively affect older people’s traditional roles, and perhaps more specifically their social position, as communities and power and support structures are dismantled, leaving older people with less influence and power. Cases of child marriage have been reported in some areas and school dropouts have been reported, where children engage in labor or survival activities to support their families, including the production of charcoal for generating income or walking in search of water.
3. Risks & vulnerabilities
Increase in conflicts over natural resources: Due to the scarcity of natural resources – pasture and water – there is an increased risk of inter-community conflicts. Conflicts escalate during drought, as communities compete for scarce water and pasture resources. Some nearby communities are raiding areas that seem less drought-stricken for their resources. Resource conflicts have led to loss of life, looting of livestock and displacement. They have also disrupted livelihoods, access to markets and education. In some cases, cross-border migration to Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda has led to conflicts over resources. To minimize the risk of business disruption, KRCS will work with all stakeholders, including communities, to ensure response ownership and response team safety. KRCS will prioritize the dissemination of its humanitarian mandate and principles to increase community understanding and acceptance. Orientation and security briefings for all teams prior to deployment will also be undertaken to help ensure the safety and security of response teams.
Activism: Counties bordering Somalia (Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu) remain vulnerable to militancy, intercommunal violence and high levels of societal violence or crime, including kidnappings. The al-Shabab militant group is known to be active in the area and carries out low-level militant attacks – including improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, roadside ambushes and kidnappings – on a base recurring. Most often, the attacks target the security forces or the local population. The group has on rare occasions attacked industrial and construction sites.
protection: Due to disruption of livelihoods, there is a higher incidence of early marriage and child labor as a negative coping strategy. Women and girls are at risk of being trafficked as they travel long distances in search of food and water.
Internally displaced people left behind: ASAL counties in Kenya host nearly 459,000 refugees, including approximately 234,000 in Dadaab refugee camp (Garissa county) and 225,000 in Kakuma refugee camp (Turkana county) (UNHCR 28/02/ 2022). Rising levels of food insecurity in these counties are also affecting refugees.
Escalating food prices: The Ukraine crisis has implications for food security across the region, as Russia and Ukraine are key in global food markets (wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil), and Russia occupies a prominent place in global nitrogen fertilizer energy trade and export and the second largest supplier of potassium and phosphorous fertilizers. Somalia depends on imports from Russia and Ukraine for up to 90% of the country’s wheat supply. Rising fuel prices have pushed up the cost of transport and food. With food prices escalating, households are also facing a drop in purchasing power due to the rise. Families have been forced to sell their properties and belongings in exchange for food and other vital items.
COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE: Across Kenya, the socio-economic and political pressures of COVID-19 remain a risk.
Intense and abundant rains in March April May Rainy seasons cause cyclical flooding in other parts of the country, with the latest being floods in Kitui County in December 2021 and flash floods in Marsabit County in January 2022. Increasing soil dryness due to droughts greatly increases the likelihood of flash floods and river floods.
locusts: The 2021-22 season has seen the worst upsurge of locusts in 75 years. These climatic shocks are all drivers of food insecurity across the country. Worse still, weather events are occurring alongside the cumulative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.