As grazing lands dwindle because of the drought ravaging northern and north-eastern Kenya, pastoralists in the arid regions have called for assistance to salvage their remaining herds, saying their livestock are in such physical poor condition that they being rejected by animal traders, a United Nations inter-agency team said today.
Kenyan authorities often help pastoralists to de-stock in times of drought – buying animals that are too weak for the markets before the livestock die of lack of pasture and water, thus ensuring that households earn some money to support themselves after losing their livelihoods.
The inter-agency team, Security in Mobility (SIM), which comprises the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Office for Migration (IOM), is currently in the northern Kenyan district of Moyale to assess the impact of the drought on pastoralists.
The team quoted one pastoralist as saying: “I have lost most of my cows, and the remaining ones are emaciated and dying. There is nowhere to take them to graze. My only option is to dispose them but there is no one willing to buy the animals in such poor condition,” said 49-year-old Muro Ali.
The team said that for most of these pastoralists the process of de-stocking, also known locally as “livestock off-take,” needs to be implemented within the next six weeks.
Livestock prices have dropped from 6,110 Kenyan shillings (about $70) in April to 5,000 shillings now.
Pasture conditions in Moyale have deteriorated and are expected to worsen further as herders from neighbouring areas, both in Kenya and Ethiopia, move their animals there. Pastoralists and their herds now have to walk distances ranging from 50 to 60 kilometres in search of water and pasture.