The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Kenya

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Kenya
Nov 2008

The contested presidential election in December 2007 fueled ethnic tensions throughout Kenya. Riots displaced half a million people and froze economic activity, access to basic services and the delivery of aid within and across national borders. Victimized on the basis of ethnicity or political affiliation, thousands of households lost their homes, livelihoods, assets and family members. Despite progress in political reconciliation, up to 138 000 IDPs remain in transit sites and many thousands more in need of assistance.

Drought, floods and soaring commodity and production costs throughout 2008 disrupted food production, livelihoods and families’ overall capacity to meet basic needs. Precipitation dropped 75 percent below norm in arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) regions, comprising the country’s grain basket and major milk producing areas. In June and October, flooding displaced thousands, destroyed crops and led to numerous livestock losses.

Prior to the elections, IDPs already amounted to 350 000. Displacement is ongoing in Mount Elgon due to activity of the Sabaot Land Defense Force militia and counterinsurgency efforts. Kenya also hosts 270 000 refugees, primarily from the Sudan and Somalia, placing additional strain on scarce resources – an escalating source of violent clashes. Influxes of refugees from Somalia are expected to continue to rise in 2009. Some refugee camps are already hosting well over twice their capacity.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Nearly 1.4 million people in Kenya are highly food insecure. The agriculture sector provides the livelihood and a main source of nourishment for over three-quarters of the population. However, 71 percent of pastoralists and 54 percent of marginal farmers are unable to meet daily emergency food requirements. National crop production has dropped 9 percent since 2007 and 27 percent below the five-year average.

Post-election violence affected over 66 500 farming families. Key agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilizer and farm machinery, were burned or looted. In addition, an estimated 2.5 million bags (90 kg) of maize, Kenya’s staple food, were lost. Livestock raids depleted the herds of pastoralists and 4 000 fishers lost basic gear and equipment.

Consecutive seasons of sporadic and poor rainfall have further reduced crop yields and livestock production in large portions of ASAL areas. Pastoralists, already contending with increased livestock disease outbreaks and consequent export bans, lack sufficient water and pasture for their animals. Competition over scarce resources has increased clashes between farmers and herders, forcing pastoralists onto drier lands.

Flooding in Tana River District, Mandera and Katilu Division displaced thousands of people and caused severe crop and livestock losses. A channel cut into the Tana River by a farmer in August for irrigation purposes is expected to cause extensive flooding along the diversion banks during upcoming rainy seasons. This would affect 250 000 people, of which a large portion are farmers, fishers and pastoralists.

FAO response

In response to the multiple causes that have increased food and livelihood insecurity in 2008, FAO seeks to provide farmers with quality agricultural inputs needed to restore food production and income generation. The provision of tools and yield-enhancing inputs, such as high-yielding seed varieties and fertilizer, will boost crop production and access to food. FAO’s proposed livestock activities include animal health interventions, increasing fodder production and conservation practices, and support to livestock marketing initiatives.

The assistance will contribute to increasing the number of displaced persons able to resettle and resume their livelihoods. FAO’s planned interventions will help to alleviate soaring household spending on staple foods, such as maize and beans, which has risen as high as 80 percent in the past six months, particularly in rural farming areas. Increased production will also contribute to stabilizing local food costs. Training in diversified farming methods and improved livestock practices will maximize output and increase resilience to future shocks.