Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya

Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Institutional Affiliation
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Climate change can be described as the changes in the climatic pattern due to direct or
indirect human activities, which interfere with the normal composition of the universal
atmosphere in accumulation to natural variability over the given period. The climate change can
be attributed to the frequent droughts that are experienced in the modern days. Drought therefore
can be defined as a form or system of environmental stress originating from precipitation
deficiency over a long period of time thereby leading to crop failure, biotic loss, moisture
deficiency, or loss of lives and the general hardship (Gregory, Ingram & Brklacich, 2005, p.
2143). A larger percentage of the world’s population has been affected by the frequent drought at
one point of their lives where quite a number also lives in the arid and semi-arid areas of the
Drought instances connected with the climate variability or inconsistency and climate
change have in the recent years become more pronounced in Kenya and in turn, it affects the
agricultural production. Kenya has experienced more drought events during the last decade
where the frequency and severity of the drought appears to rise with time. The rapid recurrence
of the shocks related to drought often leaves less recovery time before the emergence of the next
shock. This implies that quite a number of households are losing their capacity to economically
participate in activities, which will ensure food-sufficiency such as rain-fed agriculture. The
recurrent low rainfall pockets have to lead to reduced agricultural yields by causing crop failure
in some places. This inclusion with the overall strained economic situation has kept the prices of
food high and contributes to weakened food security in Kenya.
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Goals and Objectives
The main goal of this research proposal is to investigate the effects of drought on food
security in Kenya and a preview of some of the consequences which food insecurity have on the
economic growth of the country. The objective of the study involves examining the current and
the history of drought instances in Kenya, and what role both the government and international
community can play towards managing drought so as to evade food insecurity caused by drought
in Kenya. It aims at answering certain questions such as what causes the frequent droughts, what
are some of the consequences of recurrent drought patterns, does drought result in food
insecurity of the country, what are some of the implications of food insecurity in Kenya, and
what measures can be taken by the government to address the situation.
The research will be context-based where several existing previous studies, researchers,
and both local and international reports concerning the drought situation in Kenya and its effects
on food security will be thoroughly analysed. Several reports and articles have been retrieved
from different library databases like the government databases, World Food Programme, United
Nations Organization, and other government websites in analysing the causes and contributing
factors to food insecurity in the country. The study was not only focused on the effects of
drought on food security to the Kenyan economy, it was also keen on examining some of the
remedies towards eliminating the problem within the country. These have been achieved through
an intense literature review of the available reports, articles, publications, and journals
addressing the same.
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Literature Review
Droughts and natural hazards that emerge from the absence of seasonal rainfalls often
contribute to food insecurity, save for the death of livestock, and poor harvest is larger sections
of Kenya. Speranza, Kiteme & Wiesmann, (2008) contends that pasture shortages due to failed
rains, poverty, and poor harvest as well as the political and social environment, which can be
traced to lack of good governance, have contributed to not only food insecurity but also serious
food crisis and underdevelopment in the country. Furthermore, the vulnerability of food
insecurity has been high due to the widespread drought-hit areas in Kenya particularly among the
small-scale agriculturalists and the pastoralists in the arid and semi-arid areas (Devereux, 2007,
p. 54). These drought-prone areas often receive low rates of rainfall, which is greatly variable
both in space and in time thereby causing severe food shortages.
Agriculture has been established to support more than 70 percent of the Kenyan
population by generating the larger portion of the food requirements of the country, which is
dependent on rainfall. Nevertheless, only less than 15 percent of the Kenya’s landmass ranges
from medium to high agricultural potential because of reliable and adequate rainfall (Hugo &
Mugalavai, 2010, p. 69). The semi-arid regions in the country are only suitable for livestock
farming and rain-fed marginal crop production. These kinds of agriculture barely produce
enough food for human survival and do not substantially contribute to the economies of the
country. Moreover, according to Oluoko-Odingo (2011, p. 7), droughts have become a major
concern and constraints to the rain-fed agricultural production in these arid and semi-arid areas
of Kenya. Therefore, any kind of farming practiced in the semi-arid areas, particularly the rain-
fed agriculture faces great risks of crop failure due to frequent drought events experienced. It
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
therefore follows that the marginal agriculturalists and pastoralists in the arid and semi-arid areas
are the most vulnerable groups to drought effects since their livelihood largely of not all heavily
rely on the climate performance with the feeble economic base. The agricultural sector is the
most adversely affected areas by drought and this has a direct and a bigger implication of food
security situation of the country.
Droughts have been established to contribute to low crop yields considering that crop
failures, stunted growth, wilting of crops, and lack of planting seeds, all are due to droughts
frequently experienced in some parts of the country. It also leads to the reduced rain-fed
agricultural activities in some parts of the country. The consequences of drought are mostly
witnessed in poor animal and crop production, loss of livestock, starvation, hunger, and food
insecurity in overall ((Hugo & Mugalavai, 2010, 71). Huge crop failures in the affected regions
often incapacitate farmers by forcing them to minimise the acreage under subsistence farming in
favour of well-paid jobs in urban centres thereby triggering the rural-urban migration of the
labour force (Devereux, 2007, p. 51). Moreover, those who choose to farm only during the
emergence of rainfall often operate under conditions where the necessary production assets have
been destroyed. Such drought incidences normally affect the quantity of the planted acreage
thereby threatening the food security of the country.
Frequent drought conditions in certain regions of the country can lead to the changes in
the planting dates and in the crop varieties. There have been constant changes in crop varieties,
cropping patterns, and planting dates within the affected regions of the country. This is
particularly because the timing of rainfall onset and crop variety is very crucial in determining
the farming calendar and season of the rain-fed farming system (Godfray et al., 2010, p. 813).
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Maize crop, for instance, is a staple food for a number of Kenyans and is virtually grown
throughout the country save for the arid and semi-arid climates where it can only be sustained
under irrigation system.
Therefore, effective ways of curbing drought in Kenya should be designed since the
recurrent droughts often lead to food insecurity, which in turn has many negative impacts on the
country involved. For instance, lack of food leads to the hunger of children who fall sick
frequently and hence have to be hospitalized. These hospital costs are often passed along to the
business community from where they lead to a lot of tax and insurance burdens. The paediatric
hospitalization costs on average if often high and further contributes to higher health care costs
of the country. Furthermore, hunger also affects the experienced workers who tend to be less
prepared socially, emotionally, mentally, or physically to effectively perform in their
contemporary workforce t of thereby lowering the performance of the company or the
organization (Godfray et al., 2010, p. 817). It also leads to less competitive workforce due to a
lower level of technical and educational skills that are seriously constrained human capital.
Furthermore, drought often subjects Kenya rely on food imports from its neighbouring
countries such as Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. These imports are often associated with high
cost of transportation which when coupled with the high inflation rates has caused a dramatic
rise in food prices in the country. The country’s reliance on expensive foreign food supplies and
a decline in agricultural production negatively affects the overall economic growth of the country
and will further food shortage or insecurity in the future.
Economic growth is greatly depressed in a country considering that it will only be
sustainable when all the countries within the country have addressed the issue of food insecurity
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
by curbing drought. Without state-owned or state-driven food security strategies in a country,
there will often be obstacles and supplementary costs to country-level, regional, and global
economic growth (Speranza, Kiteme &Wiesmann, 2008, p. 226). The country should further
come to the attention that for it to ensure food security, it needs to encompass both men and
women, and other disadvantageous or vulnerable groups. Since food insecurity in the country
negatively affects the economic growth in a country, both the government and international
community should collaborate towards tackling the food insecurity in Kenya.
Kenya should then modernize the agricultural sector by changing the current structure of
the agrarian economy to an industrialized one despite the adverse climatic conditions which
often result in droughts. The country must in the short term create an agricultural sector, which is
capable to resist the effects of climate change by providing efficient market, groundwater, and
irrigation systems (Oluoko-Odingo, 2011, p. 11). These efforts call for the attention of both
donors, private sectors, scholars, and the government itself to work together towards making
food insecurity due to drought a history in Kenya.
In conclusion, drought has been a major cause of food insecurity in Kenya where
frequent droughts and famines are some of the common defining characteristics in some parts of
the country thereby leading to widespread suffering among the citizens and loss of investments,
savings or even livestock. However, some local resident in the country has accepted the
condition as part of their daily lives where some consider the problem irresolvable as long as
there is inadequate rainfall. Moreover, it has been established that maize farmers are the ones
who have been affected the most with draught instances in Kenya especially in West Pokot
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
because it results in crop failure as compared to other crops such as groundnuts, green grams,
and sorghum that are drought resistant. Drought further affects animal production thereby
leading to the production of less milk compared to wet season. Long periods of drought have
negative implications on food security, which results in the increase in poverty level and in turn
affects the participation of the community in both political and socioeconomic processes.
Furthermore, the persistent drought has been established to increase the vulnerability of
households in the events of prospected food insecurity and climatic shocks. It can push the
pastoralists off their normal production systems by forcing them to move to other areas such as
urban centres where water supply, sanitation, health, and food distribution may be readily
available. Following these establishment therefore, the study suggests that the government needs
to encourage restocking and initiate irrigation schemes after drought so as to support the
communities who have lost their plants and animals following the drought. Capacity building
initiatives via educating the community to enlighten them on the recommended crop varieties
that are drought resistant are necessary. Both county and national governments should embrace
the support accorded by communities towards the programs of land reclamation under irrigation
since this would lead to more engagements of the communities in farming activities and thereby
reducing the keeping of livestock as the key source of livelihood.
Effects of Drought on Food Security in Kenya
Devereux, S., 2007. The impact of droughts and floods on food security and policy options to
alleviate negative effects. Agricultural Economics, 37(s1), pp.47-58.
Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., Pretty, J.,
Robinson, S., Thomas, S.M. and Toulmin, C., 2010. Food security: the challenge of
feeding 9 billion people. science, 327(5967), pp.812-818.
Gregory, P.J., Ingram, J.S. and Brklacich, M., 2005. Climate change and food security.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 360(1463),
Hugo, J.M., and Mugalavai, E.M., 2010. The effects of droughts on food security in Kenya.
International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 2(2), pp.61-72.
Oluoko-Odingo, A.A., 2011. Vulnerability and adaptation to food insecurity and poverty in
Kenya. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101(1), pp.1-20.
Speranza, C.I., Kiteme, B. and Wiesmann, U., 2008. Droughts and famines: the underlying
factors and the causal links among agro-pastoral households in semi-arid Makueni
district, Kenya. Global Environmental Change, 18(1), pp.220-233.

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