August 9

Voter apathy fears for Kajiado politicians as drought drives away herders

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 04:23 | By
Kajiado drought
Pastoralists in Kajiado are facing food shortage for their animals as drought continues to ravage the county. Photo/PD/Christine Musa

Leaders in Kajiado County fear that if urgent drought mitigation measures are not put in place, it will result in voter apathy as farmers have moved to far-flung areas in search of pasture and water.

 With the election day drawing closer, the ravaging drought has seen herders move up to the neighbouring country of Tanzania to save their livestock.

 According to the leaders, herders who would have driven their cows far from polling stations will be unable to vote.

 In the rural parts of Kajiado, most homes have been left with women and children. And the hunger situation is taking a toll on them.

 Former Kajiado David Nkedianye says the drought’s devastating effects have deepened economic hurdles of farmers since cattle prices have reduced by up to 50 percent.

 “There are high chances that if urgent measures are not put in place, the rural population will shun voting.  Villagers who entirely depend on livestock farming to put food on the table are hungry and scattered. There is an acute shortage of water and food among families. The families need some encouragement and assistance to facilitate them to vote. It is a dare situation,”says Nkedianye.

 For farmers who have not migrated, they are forced to sustain cattle by feeding them using hay which is now selling at Sh350 for a 12kg bale.

 “Feeding my 48 cattle is no longer sustainable. The hay is very expensive. I am between a rock and a hard place either to sell the cattle at a throw away price or wait and see them die of hunger. I have over 60 cows and I have sold some to purchase hay to sustain others. Since we do not know when it will rain, I might end up selling all of them eventually reducing me to abject poverty,”said Eric Timayion, a farmer.

 The leaders are now calling on urgent interventions as well as sensitization to locals on the importance of turning out and participating in elections.

 Governor Joseph Ole Lenku is now calling on the national government to intervene to save the situation by giving relief food to the affected families.  He says the county government kitty  under the emergency department that has recently been giving food relief to the families is now overwhelmed.

The county government has been distributing unga, cabbages and dried beans to hunger strike families with Kajiado West and Kajiado Central sub counties largely affected.

 “Our people are hungry, our cattle are on the verge of death. As the county government we are trying our level best to save the situation and we have profiled the most affected zones and people,” says Lenku.

 The leaders now say if families are offered relief food it will significantly reduce voters’ apathy and encourage men who are away to put effort in participating in the forthcoming general elections. 

 The leaders now call on  Kenya Meat Commission(KMC) to conduct a livestock off-take programme as farmers are not willing to sell their cattle in markets at throw away prices.

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