Dry conditions in parts of Kenya are likely to result in significantly smaller harvests in the first few months of 2019, a US-funded food security monitoring network warned on Friday.
“Crop production in Somalia and Kenya is expected to be at least 30 percent below average, and pasture and water availability is likely to be well below average throughout the region,” the East Africa alert issued by the Famine Early Warning System said.
“Should this forecast come to fruition, historical trends indicate that food security outcomes could rapidly worsen.”
“Humanitarians should prepare for an increase in need throughout 2019,” the network, which is operated by the US Agency for International Development, urged.
Food shortfalls may be particularly acute in Kitui, Makueni and Taita-Taveta counties, the alert added.
Recent rainfall totals place the current short rain season among the three driest experienced in Kenya’s southeastern lowlands in the past 40 years, the monitors noted.
Little relief is expected in the coming months. Despite a forecast of increased rainfall in the first half of this month, “below average crop production and below average pasture and water availability remain the most likely scenario,” the alert stated.
“Rainfall is forecast to cease before late December as tropical rainfall systems shift southward earlier than normal.”
Livestock migration in Somalia is taking place ahead of yearly norms, with increased migration expected soon in Kenya, the monitors said. “Reductions in body conditions, milk yields and market value are likely beginning in January,” the alert warned.
Food insecurity in Kenya will be partly mitigated as a result of “bumper harvests” reaped earlier this year, the network suggested.
“Nonetheless, the size of the food-insecure population during the first half of 2019 is expected to be larger than previously estimated,” the alert added.