Food security is expected to deteriorate slowly from February and May 2019 until the beginning of the long rainy season which starts in mid-to-late-March and then gradually improve.
This is according to the World Food Programme’s report on the December 2018 to May 2019 Kenya Food Security Outlook which stated that most livestock will be in dry-season grazing areas thus continuing to limit the availability of milk to majorly cater for household consumption only between the months of February and March.
Livestock body conditions and, consequently, livestock prices are expected to continue to seasonally decline; however, prices are projected to remain slightly above average even during the dry season. Combined with slightly above-average staple food prices, livestock prices are anticipated to maintain household purchasing power at average levels, facilitating food access.
During this period, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate to ‘Critical’ in children under five years of age, which is typical for the dry season.
With the start of the 2019 long spots of rain in March, food security is expected to begin to rebound as forage and water resources are replenished and livestock body conditions are restored. As livestock return to wet-season grazing areas and average levels of calving, kidding and lambing occur, household milk consumption and livestock and livestock product sales will seasonally increase.
As a result, the frequency of consumption and livelihood-based coping strategies will likely decrease as typical sources of food and income improve to normal levels.
The report noted that most poor households are expected to remain Stressed through May. Some poor households in parts of Wajir and Garissa that have been worst affected by the poor short rains season and are prone to the conflict are likely to be in Crisis, but this is unlikely to occur at the area level.
Looking at the general commodity markets performance in the East African region, in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda staple food prices have seasonally declined across most markets due to increased market supply availability from the October 2018 to January 2019 harvests.
Some exceptions are in Karamoja region of Uganda where prices are mixed, and in Kenya, prices tend to have increased in Nairobi as most traders are still selling high priced local maize from carryover stocks.
In Ethiopia, prices of imported staple commodities have remained stable as the government lifted cross-border restrictions allowing for imports to reach markets.