Destocking as drought in Kenya bites harder

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Destocking is an exercise that the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has taken up -through funding from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), with an aim of supporting drought affected communities who are currently losing their cattle due to the biting drought that has hit various parts of the country.

The exercise that has so far taken place in the North Eastern and Coast regions, kicked off in December 2016.

The ongoing drought has affected more than 1.3million in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya with more than 21,000 people currently in need of food assistance. Eleven counties are at alarm stage namely: Garissa, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, Isiolo, West Pokot, Samburu and Tana River. The drought situation has affected not just the human population but the livestock population too with a livestock mortality rate of 5%. Malnutrition rate on the other hand has risen to level of 15% which is considered critical.

Among the individuals who have benefited from this exercise is 22 year old Shukry Abdullahi a resident of Dukanotu village in Tana River County. Shukry has 10 children in her household three of whom are under the age of five. “The beef I have received today will feed my household for at least three days,” Shukri said. “You know my co wife died last year and left behind six children who are currently under my care,” she added.

Shukry has lost four of her eight goats to the drought and is afraid that if nothing much is done to support the communities affected, the situation will get worse. “My husband is unemployed and so we depend a lot on our cattle for our livelihood,” she said.

It is estimated that over 14% of the population in Tana River County depend on livestock for income and food. These communities value their cattle and are considered them a critical financial asset providing food (milk, meat, blood and eggs) and income (through sale, barter, transport, draught power and work hire). They are also a significant social assets playing a key role in building and consolidating social relationships and networks within traditional social groups.

The Destocking is aimed at removing the affected animals before they become emaciated, lose their value, die or pose a risk of public health. The exercise enable pastoralists to salvage some capital from their livestock at risk, support families with cash to meet their food needs and other basic needs, relieve pressure on scarce water and pasture resources and protect their livelihoods and strengthen the community’s ability to recover from the short and long effects of the drought. Direct beneficiaries include the most vulnerable mainly orphans, people living with disability, the elderly and the chronically ill.

The exercise involves KRCS engaging the community to buy weak cattle from willing pastoralists at an agreed price of 15,000 Kenya Shillings per cow and 5000 Kenya Shillings for goats and sheep. Once the meat is distributed to households, they are advised to take immediate action in preservation which is mainly done through boiling, salting or drying.