Pastoralists in Kajiado have raised alarm over the on-going drought that has continued to ravage parts of the country.
The pastoralists revealed that they had lost many livestock to the biting drought and have been forced to sell off weak animals at throw away prices as they cannot afford to buy them pasture and animal feeds.
Areas worst affected include Kajiado East, Central and South with herders forced to migrate with their livestock to Kajiado West and the neighboring counties of Machakos, Makueni and Narok in search of pasture and water.
Josephat Lemaiyan, a herder from Esorunoto vilage in Kajiado East said the drought was slowly turning into a full-blown crisis adding he has already lost five cows to the drought and sold over 30 others cheaply to save them from succumbing.
“I have already lost five cows and I have been forced to sell over 30 cows because there is no pasture to feed them. The remaining herd, which is around 100, have been moved to Kajiado West in search of pasture as the situation is much better there,” he explained.
Alice Teikan, another resident, appealed to the government to come to their aid and provide them with relief food as many residents can no longer afford three meals a day.
Teikan revealed that nursing mothers and babies were hard hit as the livestock have been relocated to other areas thus there was no milk to supplement their diet. She noted that many children were now at risk of malnutrition due to poor feeding and unbalanced diet.
The mother of six, added that many boys had on the other had been forced to drop out of school to accompany their older siblings and fathers together with their livestock in search of pasture.
“Many boys in this area have dropped out of school as they are the ones given the responsibility of taking care of the livestock. They have relocated with the animals to other counties to look for pasture and will not be home in time for the school re-opening this week,” she said.
A spot-check by KNA at many villages in Kajiado East and South revealed the true picture of the biting drought.
At Esorunoto village in Kenyawa Poka, Kajiado East constituency, huge parcels of land that are normally filled with pasture and bushes are now left bear with hardly any green vegetation cover on sight.
No livestock could be seen on the fields with only a few goats roaming about the vast lands. The same situation is replicated at Mailwa, Imirikiriani, Lenkism and Maparasha areas.
Former Kajiado Governor Dr. David Nkedienye, appealed to the National Government to step in and provide relief food and water, to cushion residents from the effects of the on-going drought.
Nkedienye, who is seeking a comeback in the August polls through the Jubilee ticket, said the prolonged drought was now at an alarming stage and more livestock would be lost if immediate action is not taken.
“As we speak now, many animals have succumbed with livestock farmers relocating their animals to Kajiado West; some have even crossed over to neighboring counties of Narok and Makueni in search of water and grass,” he said.
He urged the Government to assist the pastoralists in buying off the livestock without any conditions, adding that Kenya Meat Commission is currently carrying out the livestock offtake program but many farmers cannot benefit.
“I am appealing to KMC to buy livestock from the farmers without any conditions so as to cushion them from losses. Currently KMC is emphasizing on buying more bulls than heifers leaving pastoralists with many cattle which they cannot afford to feed as the heifers are more,” said Nkedienye.
The government has embarked on livestock off-take program in several counties hard hit by drought so as to cushion the pastoralists.
In Kajiado County, the program is currently underway with 5,070 vulnerable families set to benefit. The programme will cost a total of Sh.5 M which will be used to purchase 570 herds of cattle from vulnerable families.
The government through KMC will purchase 131 livestock in Kajiado Central, 114 in Kajiado East, 143 in Kajiado South, 148 in Kajiado West and 34 in Kajiado North.
The slaughtering process will start between July 18- 24 and the meat will be provided as relief meat to the vulnerable households. One cow is supposed to feed 10 families.
Kajiado Central Member of Parliament Elijah Memusi on his part called on the County Government to release emergency funds to cushion locals from hunger pangs.
“The County government has set aside Sh500 M emergency fund. This money should be released to help residents affected by drought. We also call for the re-introduction of the school feeding program to keep children in schools,” said Memusi.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kajiado County is among 17 out of 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties most affected by drought.
Some of the counties worst affected by drought are Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera, Isiolo, Baringo, Laikipia, Turkana and Samburu. Others are Garissa, Tana River, Kwale, Kilifi, Kitui, Lamu, Meru (North), Nyeri (Kieni) and West Pokot.
Meanwhile, more than 3.5 million residents in the affected counties face imminent starvation due to poor performance of the short rains and require immediate assistance.