Drought leaves 600,000 in Kajiado facing starvation

Thursday, September 1st, 2022 07:00 | By
Due to widespread drought, cattle in Kajiado roam in search of pasture and water. PHOTO/Christine Musa

Farmers in Kajiado county are on the verge of losing 450,000 cattle valued at approximately Sh13.6 billion due to the ongoing drought.

Over 600,000 families also face starvation while 75 per cent of wild animals have been pushed out of their natural habitat in search of food, posing a serious human-wildlife conflict.

This is captured in a survey conducted by the Kajiado County Government in conjunction with other humanitarian organisations. Report released yesterday depicts a dire famine facing residents.

All elected leaders across the political divide converged for a crisis meeting on Monday to deliberate on the hunger situation in an effort to save lives and livestock.

In the meeting chaired by Governor Joseph ole Lenku, the county government, through the Disaster Management kitty set aside Sh100 million to mitigate the situation.

Leaders also rallied the national government and other well-wishers to intervene.

To avert deaths of both people and livestock, stakeholders have settled on short-term measures including provision of relief food for vulnerable persons at a cost of Sh1,400 monthly for the next three months and supplementary feeding for children under the age of five years and breastfeeding mothers.

Devastating situation

Drought emergency kitty will also support 280,000 school going children with supplementary food and dietary rations for Sh16 per child per day for the next three months.

Herders will also benefit with free livestock feed supplements, provision of hay, rehabilitation and solarisation of community boreholes.

On a long-term basis, the county will begin sensitisation programmes geared towards empowering farmers to embrace modern farming instead of the traditional livestock rearing.

“We as leaders are here today, united by hunger and a devastating situation we are facing as a county,” Lenku said. He went on: :The situation needs urgent interventions. Families are sleeping hungry, cattle health continues to deteriorate and farmers’ capacity to feed them using hay has become unsustainable as it is too costly. We urge all humanitarian organisations and well-wishers to extend their generosity to our suffering people.”

In the last three months, prices of cattle have reduced  by almost 70 per cent.

“I have 56 cattle. I can no longer feed them. It  is further disheartening that I can barely get a customer to buy the same at a throw away price of  Sh10,000 for a mature cow,” Alex Teum, a farmer narrated.

Initially, farmers were optimistic that the government, through the Kenya Meat Commission Athi River will conduct an off-take programme to save them from losses but the initiative has not been effected.

Hay business has turned lucrative with a 8kg bail selling at Sh350.

A kilogramme of beef is now selling at Sh430 wholesale price compared to Sh370 three months ago.

Meat dealers say prices have skyrocketed due to scarcity of cattle to slaughter.

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