Blog Post

Rainy Season Begins in Kenya But Food Security Challenges Remain

The long rainy season in Kenya got off to a relatively good start in March, according to an update from FEWS Net. While the precipitation has begun to replenish water levels reduced by five consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall, however, much of the country continues to struggle with the high food prices, reduced agricultural productivity, and reduced livelihoods caused by the prolonged drought.

Pastoral households are reportedly having to travel between 65 and 85 percent longer distances than the three-year average in order to reach adequate forage and water sources. The resulting poor livestock conditions have driven down prices in monitored markets by as much as 42 percent below the five-year average in some areas. While cash transfers and in-kind food distributions have helped support poor pastoral households, falling livestock prices have hampered these households’ purchasing power. In addition, milk production and consumption remains very low, which has implications for pastoralists’ livelihoods and food security.

Staple food prices, on the other hand, remain high throughout Kenya. Maize prices in most monitored markets were 17 to 97 percent above the five-year average in February, while dry bean prices were as much as 76 percent higher.

Reduced crop production and sales in late 2022 have reduced labor opportunities for rural populations. In addition, many household food stocks have been diminished, forcing poor households to pay the current high market prices. This combination of high prices and reduced incomes means that poor households have lower purchasing power. Many are facing IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) and Phase 3 (Crisis) food insecurity. While government programs to provide duty-free imports of maize, rice, and soybeans were launched in February, they have been largely ineffective due to high transportation costs making importation too expensive for local millers.