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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Kenya

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Kenya
Dec 2011

Kenya is severely affected by the crisis in the Horn of Africa – 3.75 million people are food insecure and in need of assistance.

Decades of political instability in the region and recurrent natural disasters have made Kenyans increasingly vulnerable to poverty and hunger. These shocks – including post-election violence in 2008 – have generated over 300 000 IDPs.

On top of this, Kenya hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world – 585 000 refugees and asylum seekers – most fleeing violence and famine in neighbouring Somalia.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Small-scale farmers and pastoralists must be placed at the centre of recovery efforts to increase and protect food availability at household level, and beyond. Approximately 75 percent of food in Kenya is produced by small-scale farmers, cultivating mostly rainfed crops. They have little or no access to production inputs, machinery or capital.

Pastoral, agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas of Kenya are in a state of crisis following three to four successive seasons of failed rains. Crop production has been insufficient to meet food needs.

The little food produced is inadequately stored. Post-harvest grain losses are as high as 50 percent due to pest damage and contamination by fungus (aflatoxin). These are major contributors to food insecurity and market deterioration in the country. The drought has led to overgrazing, lack of water in pastoral areas and animal disease outbreaks, due also to flooding in some areas. Pastoralists are losing animals and many families are becoming destitute.

Women and children have been significantly affected – 385 000 children under age five and 90 000 pregnant and lactating women are estimated to suffer from acute malnutrition. Over the past five years, food commodity prices have nearly tripled, especially for cereals, pulses and sugar. Maize rose from KES 15–40 per kg, leaving Kenya’s poorest income group (lowest quartile) spending up to
28 percent of income on this staple food.

FAO response

The main focus of FAO’s drought response in Kenya during 2012 will be to help pastoral communities living in arid and semi-arid lands to counter the effects of the ongoing drought and food security crisis, and better prepare for drought in the future.

Donor funding is needed to increase disease surveillance and control through vaccination and treatment to keep animals alive, healthy and productive. Training on improved milk production will be organized. Fodder and water will be distributed to the most vulnerable pastoralists for their animals, alongside efforts to regenerate rangelands and expand irrigated fodder production. Furthermore, satellite monitoring of water-hole levels will facilitate early drought warning for pastoralists.

Farmers will benefit from the provision of tools and drought-tolerant seeds, as well as access to much-needed irrigation. Training on soil and water conservation, water harvesting and conservation agriculture will contribute to better natural resource management. Vulnerable families, orphaned children homes and schools will receive storage silos to prevent post-harvest losses, while farmer field schools will disseminate good practices on post-harvest handling.

The FAO-led Agriculture and Livestock Working Group aims to help communities better prepare for, prevent and respond to the effects of climate change through improved information, early warning and analysis. This includes development of drought management plans in selected communities.
FAO will document good practices and lessons learned, particularly to provide effective action for assisting women-headed households.