The number of people in need of immediate food assistance in Kenya dropped to 700,000 for August 2018-February 2019, down from 2.6 million people for February-July 2018.
This improvement in food security, according to the World Food Programme came as a result of the exceptionally above average long rains that the country experience in March to May, a widespread nutrition response targeting to reach all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children under 5 with a consistent supply of nutrition commodities, early identification and treatment of acute malnutrition, and emergency food and cash transfers.
The recently concluded 2018 LRA carried out by the Kenya Food Security Steering group found out that food security situation has improved significantly across the country, particularly in the pastoral counties.
Generally, income sources in pastoral areas were above normal, facilitating needed market food purchases, as livestock prices remain above average, sustained by the available forage and water resources.
In the marginal agricultural areas, income from crop sales remained below normal due to below-average staple food prices. However, this is offset by higher income from livestock sales due to good livestock body conditions and above-average casual labor opportunities from harvesting of the long rains crop and land preparation for the expected average to above-average short rains cropping season.
Countrywide, the historically above-average 2018 March to May long rains helped to improve drive food security and it had been predicted that there would be an increase on food availability from the month of October since high and medium producing areas will be harvesting.
Despite significantly improved livestock productivity and above-average terms-of-trade in pastoral areas, outcomes are expected to persist through January 2019.
With an average to above-average forecast for the October to December short rains, livelihood recovery from the 2016/17 drought is expected to continue in pastoral areas. Improved rangeland resources are expected to sustain above-average livestock body conditions, increasing household income.
In the marginal areas, despite a mixed long rains crop performance, above-average household food stocks across the zone and below-average staple food prices are supporting household food access.
However, parts of Makueni and Lamu and households in Embu (Mbeere) are likely to face Stressed outcomes through January 2019 due to below-average production.
In Kenya, the people most vulnerable to food insecurity live in urban informal settlements and in the arid and semi-arid regions that make up 80 percent of the country’s land area.
High levels of malnutrition afflict the country’s poorest people. In the arid and semi-arid areas, around 337,000 children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, with peaks of one in three in the most affected areas, and undernutrition is a leading cause of death among children under 5.
One in five Kenyan children is stunted, or small for their age.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) revealed that the food poverty headcount rate in Kenya at national level in 2015/16 stood at 32.0 percent of the population an equivalent of 14.5 million people who were said to have been unable to consume the minimum daily calorific requirement of 2,250 Kilocalories (Kcal) as per expenditures on food.
The highest food poverty incidence was in rural areas, where 35.8 percent of the population were below the food poverty line compared to 28.9 percent in peri-urban areas and 24.4 percent in core-urban.
The results further show that 23.8 percent of households were food poor in 2015/16.