Drought Declared a National Disaster, What’s Next?

This year’s unwanted combination of drought, illegal livestock movements, armed conflict, political manoeuvrings, and unnecessary violence against property and wildlife has hit us hard.

We needed a focused effort to rebuild community and to strengthen neighbourhoods.

In February, good news arrived. The County NDMA office received news that they will receive Ksh 11.626 million to support fundamental livelihood issues associated with the drought. Programmes in water, health, livestock and education are all receiving a share of the nation’s drought emergency funding. About Ksh 1.6 million is designated for livestock.

Immediate drought management assistance will be provided to pastoralist families with breeding livestock. More than 8 of our leading ranches and conservancies have agreed to participate in a scheme that will host breeding stock through the emergency drought period. They will help breeding stock survive with the help of grazing, water and food supplements for these cows. The effort is implemented through the participating ranches, and assisted by LWF.

The drought relief scheme is simple. Each group ranch grazing committee selects breeding stock from each family for the programme. This selection is approved by the group ranch Chairs, and local authorities. These cows then form the basis of a “breeding herd”.  Selection of cows must be fair and equitable and the ranchers and group ranches agree on the number of livestock that enter the ranch. The cows are protected, fed, and monitored with the help of the rancher, his staff and the grazing committees. Food supplements are delivered with the help of NDMA to each ranch, and the same team monitors the food supplement rations.  The scheme attempts to accommodate each group ranch and their primary breeding stock.

This simple programme is designed to help get us through the worst of the drought, build bridges in neighbourhoods that are stressed, and to ensure the best of our cows survive.

About the effort

In October last year, the NDMA and LWF hosted an all-day workshop in Nanyuki to sketch out the makings of a drought management plan that would have:

  1. Helped with a buy-out of livestock before their condition started to deteriorate.
  2. A steers fattening program between group and private ranches.
  3. A livestock supplemental feeding programme aimed at maintaining breeding stock.
  4. Emergency veterinary services, especially for those livestock forced to seek pasture at mountainous altitudes.
  5. Water conservation and management activities designed to keep our rivers flowing.

Laikipians did their part. They prepared detailed plans with the County Government through the able assistance of the local NDMA Office. Budgets and action plans were submitted to Nairobi and …… “kimia”.  Silence was not the answer we expected or wanted to hear as we prepared for the worst.

In the meantime, ADC, AFC, and KMC were given the lion’s share of a Ksh 3.15 billion budget prepared by the State Department of Livestock. The money was to be used to implement livestock emergency interventions between February and April 2017 in 24 Counties.

More than 51,000 cows and 16,000 sheep and goats were to be bought and turned into tinned meat. ADC was to add another 13,800 cows for off take, and AFC another 8000. We don’t know what’s happened to the fattening, off-take and purchasing schemes that were expected, but for many livestock owners, they have yet to see these buyers. No assistance was received in this regard in Laikipia. Any fattening, buy-up or sale schemes are solely coming from private ranches working with their neighbours.

While we lost time and the advantage of a well-planned drought response effort months in advance, we are now starting to receive much needed support.

This project illustrates what is best about Laikipians. The project was designed by the people, for the people. We know what we’re good at, and it’s living this way, listening to each other, supporting neighbours in their time of need, that we can say – in a few month, and perhaps forever that, “ A friend in need is a friend indeed”.

Now we just need our government to follow-through.

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