The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Kenya

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Kenya
Nov 2010

Nearly 1.2 million people in Kenya are considered to be highly food insecure, according to the 2010 Long Rains Assessment.

Approximately 75 percent of the population depends on agriculture-/livestock-based livelihoods, many of whom are unable to meet their daily food requirements despite the enhanced rains received in early to mid‑2010. In the marginal agricultural areas, an estimated 1.5 million hectares are currently under maize cultivation, a 20 percent increment over the five-year average.

This could result in 2.62 million tonne harvests, just over 5 percent higher than the five-year average. The long rainy season is important, as it contributes up to 85 percent to overall annual national maize output.

Pastoralists, who occupy 80 percent of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), are recovering from the 2009 drought. Livestock prices in the ASALs increased by 63 and 34 percent for cattle and goats, respectively, between June 2009 and June 2010.

This represents a 22 percent rise in price against the five-year average. Although food prices remain high in terms of trade, livestock prices have comparatively improved. It is now possible to purchase an average of 51 kg of maize for the price of one goat (compared to just 30 kg of maize at the same time in 2009).

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

The drought in the pastoral areas has had a negative impact on pasture and water availability and led to the loss of livestock. This has affected the livelihoods of farming households, which have become destitute and were forced to take up other occupations, and in some cases led to increased resource-based conflict and related displacements. Residual problems caused by the drought remain as a result of the vast numbers of livestock lost, meaning that many pastoralists are unable to benefit from the improved livestock prices and the livestock/crop terms of trade.

In the marginal agricultural areas, prolonged droughts have resulted in low agricultural production for several years. Apart from the drought, post-harvest handling of grains is another issue affecting food security in Kenya. An estimated 200 000 tonnes of the short rainy season crop harvested from these drought-prone areas have been declared unfit for human consumption due to molding, aflatoxin contamination and infestation by insect pests. Post-harvest losses are a major contributor to food insecurity, poor health and erosion of market advantage. At the same time, there is a strong likelihood of further drought from the impending La Niña phenomenon, which is expected to intensify competition for resources.

FAO response

The needs of food-insecure populations in ASALs can only be met through assistance in the agriculture and livestock sector. The provision of agricultural inputs (such as seeds, fertilizers and technical expertise) is essential. Farming practices such as the use of drought-tolerant crops and storage practices to reduce post-harvest losses and irrigation schemes, as well as the development of functioning markets are all key contributors to not only short-term interventions but also for long-term solutions. Water, sanitation and hygiene are also key components to achieving nutritional outcomes.

During the long rainy season of 2010, FAO supported the Government’s initiatives to increase crop production by providing over 10 000 vulnerable households from Eastern and Central Provinces of Kenya with seeds and fertilizers valued at over USD 380 000 through the input fair approach. In response to the livestock problems caused by the recent drought, the FAO Representation in Kenya is working with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure that livestock keepers are able to recover as quickly as possible through the provision of livestock in the worst-affected areas, as well as through support to livestock markets, which is intended to ensure that the livestock market is functioning well into future dry seasons. This is complemented by work on drought preparedness through the promotion of animal feed production, use of alternative feed, livelihood diversification and control of animal diseases.

Furthermore, FAO is assisting the Government in designing and establishing a strategic plan for the most vulnerable areas of Kenya. This will consist of a number of key components, such as the implementation of early response system, innovative post-harvest management techniques and incorporation of disaster risk reduction initiatives in development planning and humanitarian response.