Kenya: Marsabit district 2008 long rains assessment report 21- 25 Jul


1 Introduction

1.1 District Background Information

Marsabit district covers approximately 66,000 sq km with an estimated population of 143,849 people. The district borders Ethiopia and Moyale to the North, Turkana to the North-West, Samburu and Isiolo to the South, and Wajir to the East.

Marsabit district has been split into three administrative districts of Chalbi, Laisamis and Marsabit. The LRA covers the larger Marsabit which had 6 divisions of Central, Gadamoji, Loiyangalani, Maikona, North Horr and Laisamis. There are two main livelihoods in the district, pastoral and agro pastoral. Pastoral zone which constitute 80 % of the district is predominant. Agro-pastoral zones include Central, Gadamoji and parts of Mt Kulal in Loiyangalani division. The main crops grown in the agro pastoral zone include beans, maize, sorghum, teff and khat. In all the livelihoods, camels, shoats and cattle are reared.

The Borana and Gabbra are the main ethnic communities in the district. Others include Samburu, Rendile, Burji, Konsos, Dashnuts and Turkana. Most are mainly pastoralists with minimal agricultural activities within the highlands.

1.2 History of Relief Operation

Emergency operations in the district began in August 2004 in all divisions except Central which entered the program in 2006. A total of 93,578 people were targeted in all the divisions under General Food Distribution (GFD). In August 2006, the number was revised to 80,758 after an improvement in food security indicators. These were further reduced in February 2007 to 50,090, 37% of the district's population. Central and Gadamoji divisions were phased out during the February 2007 revision. As a result of the deteriorating food security, the number targeted was increased to 63,721 and all the divisions included after the 2008 SRA. In addition to the GFD, Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) was introduced in September 2007 targeting 6,055 Under 5's, pregnant and lactating mothers in 24 out of the 31 health facilities in the district. However, currently, 5,839 are targeted.

1.3 Food Security Trends

In the last three seasons the Marsabit district has not received adequate rains resulting in a prolonged drought. Consequently, food security situation has continued to be precarious. The situation does not seem to have improved significantly after the below normal performance of the 2008 long rains and continued escalation of food prices. As a result, a total crop failure is eminent in the agro-pastoral zones of Central and Gadamoji divisions and over 90 % of pans and dams in the pastoral zone are dry. The whole district is facing an acute water shortage as a result of the low water discharge from available sources. It is only in pastoral zones of North Horr and Loiyangalani along Lake Turkana, that received normal to above normal rains reaching 300 % of normal rains.

Generally, quality of natural vegetation is rated as dry with inadequate forage availability reported. Minimal serious livestock diseases are reported and body conditions are fair to good. In the 6 months, the situation is expected to continue deteriorating in all the livelihood zones.

1.4 Summary of recommendations

The recommended responses include:

- Increase Relief food for all livelihood zones

- Provision of security and community peace building initiatives to continue

- Vaccination of livestock against PPR

- Promote livestock de-stocking strategies

- Water tankering in the urban areas

- Provision of water storage tanks in villages

- Enhanced sanitation for IDP

- Enhancing roof catchment water harvesting in schools

- Provision of financial services to pastoral communities to promote cash economy.

- Provide supplementary and therapeutic relief assistance to high malnutrition areas.

- Strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of the current SFP