Kajiado pastoralists in agony of drought – Kenya News Agency
Kajiado herders have sounded the alarm over the ongoing drought that continues to ravage parts of the country.
Pastoralists revealed that they had lost a lot of livestock to the biting drought and were forced to sell weak animals at derisory prices as they could not afford to buy them pasture and feed for animals.
The worst affected areas are East, Central and South Kajiado, with herders forced to migrate with their livestock to West Kajiado and neighboring counties of Machakos, Makueni and Narok in search of pasture and water.
Josephat Lemaiyan, a herder from Esorunoto village in eastern Kajiado, said the drought was slowly turning into a full-blown crisis, adding that he had already lost five cows to the drought and sold some. more than 30 more at low prices to prevent them from succumbing.
“I have already lost five cows and had to sell more than 30 cows because there is no pasture to feed them. The remaining herd, which is around 100, has been moved to Kajiado West in search of pasture as the situation is much better there,” he explained.
Another resident, Alice Teikan, called on the government to come to their aid and provide emergency food as many residents can no longer afford three meals a day.
Teikan revealed that nursing mothers and babies have been hit hard as livestock have been moved to other areas so there was no milk to supplement their diet. She noted that many children were now at risk of malnutrition due to poor nutrition and an unbalanced diet.
The mother-of-six added that the boys were forced to drop out of school to accompany their older siblings and fathers with their cattle in search of pasture.
“Many boys in this area have dropped out of school because they are the ones responsible for looking after the cattle. They have moved with the animals to other counties to seek pasture and will not be home in time for school to reopen this week,” she said.
A spot check by KNA in many villages in Kajiado East and South revealed the true picture of the biting drought.
In Esorunoto village in Kenyawa Poka, Kajiado East constituency, huge tracts of land that are normally filled with pasture and bushes are now left to bears with hardly any green vegetation cover in sight.
No cattle could be seen on the fields with only a few goats roaming the vast lands. The same situation is repeated in the regions of Mailwa, Imirikiriani, Lenkism and Maparasha.
Former Kajiado Governor Dr David Nkedienye called on the national government to step in and provide relief food and water, to protect residents from the effects of the ongoing drought.
Nkedienye, who is looking to come back in the August polls on the Jubilee ticket, said the prolonged drought was now at an alarming stage and more livestock would be lost unless immediate action was taken.
“As we speak, many animals have died, with ranchers relocating their animals to Kajiado West; some even crossed into neighboring Narok and Makueni counties in search of water and grass,” he said.
He urged the government to help herders buy cattle without any strings attached, adding that the Kenya Meat Commission is currently running the cattle removal scheme but many farmers are unable to benefit from it.
“I ask KMC to buy cattle from farmers without any conditions in order to protect them from losses. Currently, KMC is emphasizing buying more bulls than heifers, which leaves herders with a lot of cattle that they cannot afford to feed because there are more heifers,” Nkedienye said.
The government has launched a cattle removal program in several drought-hit counties to protect herders.
In Kajiado County, the program is currently underway and 5,070 vulnerable families are expected to benefit from it. The program will cost a total of 5 million shillings which will be used to purchase 570 herds of cattle from vulnerable families.
The government through KMC will purchase 131 head of cattle from Kajiado Central, 114 from Kajiado East, 143 from Kajiado South, 148 from Kajiado West and 34 from Kajiado North.
The slaughtering process will begin between July 18 and 24 and the meat will be provided as relief meat to vulnerable households. One cow is supposed to feed 10 families.
Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi on his part called on the county government to release emergency funds to protect residents from feeling hungry.
“The county government has set aside an emergency fund of 500 million shillings. This money should be released to help residents affected by the drought. We also call for the reintroduction of the school feeding program to keep children in school,” Memusi said.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kajiado County is among the 17 of the 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties most affected by drought.
Some of the most drought affected counties are Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera, Isiolo, Baringo, Laikipia, Turkana and Samburu. The others are Garissa, Tana River, Kwale, Kilifi, Kitui, Lamu, Meru (North), Nyeri (Kieni) and West Pokot.
Meanwhile, more than 3.5 million people in the affected counties are facing impending famine due to the poor performance of the short rains and need immediate assistance.
By Rop Janet