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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 12-June-2023


  1. Critical food security situation due to unprecedented multi‑season drought

  2. Mixed production prospects for 2023 “long‑rains” main season crops

  3. Above‑average rangeland conditions benefiting livestock

  4. Prices of maize at high levels due to tight availability and high fuel costs

Critical food security situation due to unprecedented multi‑season drought

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), in the 23 counties classified as rural Arid and Semi‑Arid Lands (ASAL), covering most of the country, about 5.4 million people are estimated to face severe acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 [Crisis] and IPC Phase 4 [Emergency]) in the March to June period. This figure, which includes about 4.2 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 1.2 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency), amounts to 32 percent of the analysed population, compared to 27 percent in the same period of the previous year. The areas most affected by acute food insecurity, classified as IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) are Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties in the north and northeast, where pastoral livelihoods prevail.

The high prevalence and severity of acute food insecurity are mainly due to the lingering impact of a prolonged and severe drought, which affected livelihoods between late 2020 and early 2023 and resulted in consecutive failed harvests and widespread livestock deaths.

Mixed production prospects for 2023 “long‑rains” main season crops

In unimodal rainfall major growing areas of Central, Rift Valley and Western provinces, the 2023 “long‑rains” main season crops, for harvest from October, were planted in March. Average to above‑average rainfall amounts between March and late May benefited crop establishment and development, and current vegetation conditions are above average. However, according to the latest weather forecasts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Predictions and Application Centre (ICPAC), below‑average precipitation amounts are expected between June and September, with a likely negative impact on yields.

In bimodal rainfall southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture areas, the 2023 “long‑rains” crops will be harvested from July and production is expected at below‑average levels. The March‑May rainy season was characterized by an erratic temporal distribution, with below‑average rainfall amounts received during most of the growing period. Torrential rains occurred in late April‑early May and accounted for more than half of the seasonal cumulative rains. The erratic precipitation had a negative impact on vegetation conditions and, as of late May, between 20 and 30 percent of cropland was affected by severe drought in Taita Taveta, Kilifi and Kwale counties (ASI map for cropland). In addition, planted area was constrained by high prices of inputs, including fuel and fertilizers, coupled with a low purchasing power of farmers due to consecutive poor harvests.

Above‑average rangeland conditions benefiting livestock

In northern and northeastern pastoral areas, abundant March‑May “long‑rains”, estimated at more than twice the long‑term average, substantially regenerated rangeland resources and resulted in a significant improvement of vegetation conditions, which are currently well above average (see ASI map for grassland). Livestock trekking distances from grazing fields to watering points declined by 30‑75 percent between February and April, when they were up to 65 percent shorter than average. Due to the abundant pasture and water availability, livestock body conditions substantially improved and, as of April, they were reported to be fair to good in all ASAL counties. Although milk production has generally increased, it was still well below average in 17 of the 23 ASAL counties in April 2023 due to low conception rates and the decline of herd sizes caused by the death from starvation of 2.6 million animals and distress sales.

Prices of maize at high levels due to tight availability and high fuel prices

Prices of maize are at high levels across the country due to reduced carryover stocks following the 2022 below‑average cereal production and reduced imports from Uganda. High fuel prices inflating production and transport costs, further contributed to the high food prices.

In Nakuru and Eldoret markets, located in southwestern key growing areas of Rift Valley Province, maize prices increased seasonally by 10‑15 percent between February and April 2023, while in the capital, Nairobi, prices increased by about 30 percent over the same period. Prices in April were between 50 and 80 percent above their year‑earlier levels.

In southeastern and coastal marginal agriculture areas, prices of maize followed similar patterns. In Kitui, Makueni, Kwale and Lamu counties, prices increased by 20‑50 percent between February and April 2023, when they were 45‑75 percent higher than their elevated year-earlier values.

In pastoral areas, livestock prices increased by 15‑65 percent between February and April 2023 as improved pasture and water availability had a positive impact on livestock body condition and, in April, they were between 10 and 45 percent above the very low values of one year earlier. In these areas, maize prices in April were 25‑75 percent above their year‑earlier levels, mainly due to a poor performance of the local harvests in 2022, coupled with sustained demand for animal feed due to severe pasture shortages until March 2023. With cereal prices having increased over the past 12 months more sharply than livestock prices, the livestock‑to‑cereal terms of trade for pastoralists, already low in mid‑2022, have further deteriorated over the last 12 months and, in April 2023, they were 5‑30 percent lower than one year earlier. In Samburu County, the equivalent in maize of a medium‑sized goat declined from 47 kg in April 2022 to 40 kg in April 2023.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

This brief was prepared using the following data/tools:
FAO/GIEWS Country Cereal Balance Sheet (CCBS)

FAO/GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool .

FAO/GIEWS Earth Observation for Crop Monitoring .

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) .