In Kenya, about 80% of lands are classified as Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) due to relatively low annual rainfall. These cover 23 districts, 9 of which are classified as arid with annual rainfall between 150 mm and 550 mm and 14 as semi-arid with annual rainfall between 550 mm and 850 mm. These counties are particularly vulnerable to drought and flooding, and with the increasing impact of climate change, these areas are considered at risk of desertification. In addition, a large percentage of ASALs have been degraded by deforestation and overgrazing, further reducing the productivity of these lands and threatening food security, livelihoods and biodiversity.
The IPC’s June update forecast for Kenya’s ASAL region, covering the period from March to June, showed that the expected seasonal rainfall amount from March to April was below long-term seasonal averages in most livelihoods and by a poor spatial distribution was made worse. Resource-based conflicts combined with rising food commodity prices due to low crop production coinciding with peak poor season in most ASAL districts. Taken together, these factors point to an increase in the number of people acutely food insecure to 4.1 million, up from the 3.5 million originally forecast for the same period last year. The increase in the price of food raw materials due to weak crop production shows the county’s dependence on imports. For example, wholesale corn prices in April in metro benchmark markets were 41% to 46% above the five-year average, which was associated with lower production. In addition, the Ukraine-Russia conflict has had a negative impact on fuel and staple food prices.
Community livelihoods are likely to be further impacted, worsening the food insecurity situation, as projections still predict food insecurity will persist until at least December 2022. This will lead to the adoption of negative coping strategies, such as health and other basic needs. Education is also likely to be disrupted when families pull their children out of school. Pastoralist communities have begun to experience poor trading conditions as food prices rise while livestock prices fall due to deteriorating bovine health. The above is further supported by FEWS NET’s updated February-September 2022 Food Security Forecast for Kenya, which suggests that May-September corn prices are expected to rise 9-30 percent above the five-year average and are projected to rise to 3,000 -KES 4,650 due to dwindling local stocks and increased reliance on higher priced supplies from neighboring countries. The loss of livestock and below-average milk production will continue to cause fluctuations in the availability and prices of dairy products. the goods.
The resulting drought has hit most of the country, with an estimated 3.5 million people currently suffering from acute food insecurity. In addition, the prices for essential raw materials have risen rapidly in recent months. The prices of the grocery basket staples used by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to calculate inflation, such as cornmeal, wheat flour, Irish potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, kale and cooking oil, rose by an average of 20% in January 2022 compared at the same time period in 2021. Against this background, Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is a crucial tool to limit the negative effects of the drought, but is hampered by a lack of finance and resources. A better understanding of the current level of market functionality and the composition of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB) is therefore crucial to ensure that CVA interventions are evidence-based, as impactful as possible and able to reach the most vulnerable populations. In Kenya there is a lack of harmonised, regular and standardized market surveillance tracking market functionality, prices and availability of raw materials in local markets. MEB Workstream of the Kenya Cash Working Group proposed to conduct a joint market surveillance initiative to provide regular and harmonized market surveillance in Kenya. This will help in making informed decisions for CVA programs. The research is intended to harmonize data collection efforts and pool the resources of humanitarian actors and government in ASAL districts, which will lead to greater coverage, effectiveness and operational applicability of market surveillance systems.