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Kenya’s food security to improve slightly due to long rains

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s food security is expected to remain stable or improve slightly during March-May long rains season, a study on food security showed Monday.

The Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS Net), an agency which provides early warning and analysis on food insecurity, says rainfall across Kenya has been light and erratic, but it is expected the March to May long rains will be fully established by early April and an on-time harvest is still likely.

“The long rains are forecast to be near average in cumulative amount, partially influenced by the on-going El Nino. Household food security is expected to improve slightly in most pastoral areas, starting in April, as the long rains restore pasture and water resources,” says the report.

The report comes as much anticipated long rains season has began across Kenya, pounding several parts of the East Africa nation.

Heavy downpours late last week saw various roads flooded while embankments that have blocked free flow of water had the walls broken and the rain water allowed to move.

Head of Forecasting at the Kenya Meteorological Service Samuel Mwangi confirmed that the onset of the long rains has now begun and urged county governments to unclog the sewers so as to prevent disruptions to transport within cities and towns.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Service, lower temperatures are expected in most parts of the country due to the onset of the rainy season that has also seen the skies overcast with clouds.

“The clouds are helping to prevent direct insulation that has been occasioned by the open skies and direct heating from the sun’s rays,” said Mwangi.

According to FEWS Net, despite slight improvements in food security conditions, the majority of pastoral households will remain Stressed.

“Household food security in marginal agricultural areas is likely to remain stable, supported by the previous above-average short rains harvest,” FEWS Net said.

The report notes that agricultural wage labor is available at typical levels, with land preparation ongoing and dry planting in some areas.

Most households will remain in None through at least June when the green harvest will be available.

According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group’s (KFSSG) short rains assessment, the number of food insecure people requiring immediate humanitarian assistance declined to roughly 640,000 people, a 41 percent decrease in the past six months.

The report says household food security has improved across most pastoral areas after the above-average short rains, influenced by the ongoing El Nino, supported favourable rangeland conditions.

Most livestock continue to graze near homesteads and, as a result, households have access to livestock products. Some pastoral households have improved to None but the majority remain Stressed.

The report says food security throughout this time will be supported by adequate availability of both household and market food stocks following the above-average long rains harvest in high- and medium- potential areas, and the expected above-average short rains harvest from marginal agricultural areas in southeastern, western, and central Kenya.

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