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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 15-July-2022


  1. Critical food security situation, with about 4.1 million people estimated severely food insecure between March and June 2022

  2. Severe pasture and water shortages, resulting in widespread livestock deaths

  3. Mixed production prospects for 2022 “long‑rains” main season harvest

  4. Prices of maize at high levels, especially in drought affected marginal agriculture areas

  5. Deteriorating terms of trade constrain food access for pastoralists

Critical food security situation due to unprecedented multi‑season drought

In the 23 counties classified as rural Arid and Semi‑Arid Lands (ASAL), covering about 80 percent of the country, the failure of the 2022 March–May “long‑rains” exacerbated drought conditions prevailing since late 2020, causing severe crop and livestock losses, and resulting in a significant deterioration of an already difficult food security situation.

In the March to June period, about 4.1 million people (27 percent of the analysed population) were estimated to be severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 [Crisis] and Phase 4 [Emergency]). This figure, which includes about 3 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 1.1 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency), is about 40 percent higher than the same time last year. The areas most affected by food insecurity are Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit and Baringo counties in the northwest and Isiolo, Mandera and Wajir counties in the northeast, areas with predominantly pastoral livelihoods, where between 45 and 70 percent of the local population is severely food insecure.

As the June–September dry season has just started and forecasts point to a poor October–December “short‑rains” season, food insecurity conditions are expected to further deteriorate. Food and livelihood assistance needs to be urgently scaled up to avert the collapse of rural livelihoods, especially in pastoral areas.

Severe pasture and water shortages resulting in widespread livestock deaths

Prolonged drought conditions are significantly affecting rangeland resources in northern pastoral areas and central and southern agropastoral areas, especially in Marsabit County in the north, Mandera, Wajir and Isiolo counties in the northeast and Samburu and Laikipia counties in the centre.

Severe rainfall deficits during the March May rainy season impaired pasture regeneration in several central, northern and eastern pastoral and agropastoral areas. As of late July, between 25 and more than 85 percent of the grassland was affected by severe drought. Livestock trekking distances from grazing fields to watering points have increased to very high levels and, in May, they were between 30 and 120 percent longer than average. Livestock body conditions are currently poor due to lack of pasture and water, and herd sizes have significantly declined due to the death from starvation of about 1.5 million animals and due to widespread distress sales.

Milk production has declined to very low levels and, in May, it was estimated at between 30 and 80 percent below the average, with negligible levels recorded in Turkana and Samburu counties.

Mixed production prospects for 2022 “long‑rains” main season crops

In unimodal rainfall major growing areas of Central, Rift Valley and Western provinces, the 2022 “long‑rains” main season crops, to be harvested from September, were planted in March. Although cumulative rains between March and June were 10 to 20 percent below the average, they allowed good crop establishment and development. According to the latest weather forecasts by the IGAD Climate Predictions and Application Centre (ICPAC), above average precipitation amounts are expected between June and September, with a likely positive impact on crops. However, the sharp increase in international prices of fuel and fertilizers, caused by the war in Ukraine, is expected to constrain yields and inflate production and transportation costs.

In bimodal rainfall southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture areas, the “long rains” harvest has recently started and will be concluded in August. Dry conditions prevailed during most of the growing period, with significant amounts of precipitation received only between late April and early May. Although these rains had a positive impact on vegetation conditions, crop recovery was modest. As of the second dekad of July, up to 85 percent of the cropland was affected by drought (ASI map for cropland) and cereal production prospects are unfavourable, likely leading to a fourth consecutive poor harvest in these areas.

Prices of maize at high levels, especially in drought‑affected marginal agriculture areas

Prices of maize are at high levels across the country due to reduced availabilities and high fuel prices inflating production and transportation costs.

In Nakuru and Eldoret markets, located in southwestern key growing areas of Rift Valley Province, maize prices increased seasonally by 5 to 10 percent between February and April. Prices in April were 25 to 40 percent above their year earlier levels due to reduced carryover stocks following a below average cereal production in 2021.

In drought affected southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture areas, sharper increases and higher levels were recorded, due to the dismal performance of the 2022 “long‑rains” season and low availabilities following three below average harvests. In coastal Taita Taveta County, prices of maize rose by 22 percent between February and May, when they were 54 percent higher than a year earlier. Similarly, in southeastern Meru North and Embu counties, prices increased by 36 to 40 percent over the same period and, in May, they were 80 to 90 percent higher than one year earlier.

In pastoral and agropastoral areas, livestock prices declined significantly as the prolonged drought conditions had a negative impact on livestock body conditions and, in May, they were between 10 and 30 percent below the already low values of one year earlier. In these areas, maize prices in May were 5 to 25 percent above their year earlier levels, mainly due to a poor performance of the local “long rains” harvests, coupled with sustained demand for animal feed due to pasture shortages. As a result, the livestock to cereal terms of trade for pastoralists, already low in mid‑2021, have further deteriorated over the last 12 months and, in May, they were 10 to 45 percent lower than one year earlier. In Marsabit County, the equivalent in maize of a medium sized goat declined from 78 kg in May 2021 to 51 kg in May 2022.

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