Acute food insecurity likely to deteriorate further-report

food insecurity

FAO and the World Food Programme warned that a third consecutive below-average rainy season is expected to drive significant increases in food insecurity across the arid and semi-arid land regions of the country.

Already, 2.8 million Kenyans go to bed on an empty stomach.

Acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in the country driven mainly by drought and high food prices, a new report has warned.

FAO and the World Food Programme warned that a third consecutive below-average rainy season is expected to drive significant increases in food insecurity across the arid and semi-arid land regions of the country.

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Already, 2.8 million Kenyans go to bed on an empty stomach.

The two organizations in a report “Hunger Hotspots FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity February to May 2022 Outlook” says the situation could get out of hand.

“For agropastoral households, the two previous poor rainy seasons (October to December 2020 and March to May 2021) resulted in below-average crop production, and the outlook for the current season is again poor, despite improved rains in December that were too late for crop production,” part of the report says.

food insecurity effects

The report says affected households have been market dependent for a prolonged period while facing rising cereal prices (up 10 to 25 per cent compared to last year).

“For pastoral households, continued deteriorations in rangeland and water availability have driven poor livestock body conditions, below-average milk production, declining terms of trade, livestock deaths and a spike in atypical migration,” the report says.

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This, it said, has resulted in resource-based inter-communal conflicts that are expected to intensify in the coming months.

The report says looking forward, the March to May rainy season in Kenya is notoriously difficult to forecast, with current models showing mixed signals.

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However, a recent multi-agency analysis suggests the possibility of another poor season in 2022.

“If this were to occur, it would result in an unprecedented (in the past 40 years) sequence of four below-normal rainfall seasons,” the report says.

Carcasses in Ndigiria

Under this scenario, the report says, major increases in food insecurity are likely in 2022.

This comes even as the Weather Outlook for February 2022 indicates that most parts of the country will experience generally sunny and dry conditions throughout the month.

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The report says about 2.4 million people faced Crisis or Worse (IPC Phase 3 or above) levels of acute food insecurity in December 2021 and January 2022 (including about 368 000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) according to the latest IPC analysis, issued in September 2021.

The report says a more recent assessment estimated that 2.8 million people were acute food insecure during this period.

It says access constraints remain high and are likely to worsen in 2022, primarily due to drought-related, resource-based conflicts.

The 48-page report recommends that farmers should be provided with an assortment of seeds for fast-maturing crops and drought-tolerant crops, in areas expected to receive below-average rainfall between March and May 2022.

Wilting maize in a Magarini farm

It also recommends authorities deliver early warning messages and action advisories to mitigate harvest losses and prepare for the March to May 2022 planting season.

The report says unconditional cash assistance should be scaled up, along with other resilience-oriented activities and training.

The training should be on water management, rangeland conservation, fodder production and storage, conservation agriculture, and drought-management practices for crop and livestock production, to support vulnerable pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.

The report says voluntary destocking through market linkages should be scaled up, with logistics to the market supported to access markets.

“Support rehabilitation and improvement of water-source infrastructures such as borehole and water pan ahead of the rainy season, especially in the dry grazing areas, for improved water access for livestock and vulnerable populations.”

The report says food and nutrition interventions should be supported during the lean season to meet the immediate food needs of populations at high risk and to protect the livelihoods of those affected by severe climate variability.

It recommends that unconditional cash assistance should be provided, along with assorted feed supplements, and conduct animal health campaigns, targeting the most vulnerable pastoral households in drought-affected areas.

“Identify, establish, and activate emergency slaughtering points/areas, and undertake slaughter destocking and meat distribution.’

The report says water-trucking interventions should be provided for domestic and livestock usage, with the distribution of water storage tanks.

The report says nutrition interventions should be integrated across food and social protection systems, to address both chronic and acute malnutrition, including treatment of acute malnutrition, Positive Deviance/Hearth approaches, and Social and Behaviour Change Communication.

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