Kenya

Makueni District: Drought Monthly Bulletin, October 2006

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SITUATION HIGHLIGHTS

The district was hot and dry with rains being noted towards the end of the month.

Pasture continued to decline in quality and quantity throughout the district.

Farmers were preparing their farms ready for planting within the monitoring period.

Water scarcity is diminishing after the onset of the rains at the end of last month and beginning of this month.

Nutritional status for the under fives improved slightly throughout the district.

RURAL ECONOMY INDICATORS.

Livestock showed a decrease in prices in the district except for cattle.

Milk and its products are becoming more scarce in the district.

All foodstuffs showed an increase in prices except for rice which remained constant as last month.

HUMAN WELFARE INDICATORS

No disease outbreaks reported in the district.

1. ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS

1.1 RAINFALL

The month was hot and dry. Rains were received at the end of last month (in the hilly masses) and at the beginning of this month in the entire district.

This is a normal occurrence during this time of the year.

1.2 FORAGE COVER (PASTURE & BROWSE)

Pastures are only left in the hilly masses and in some patches in the midlands.

Available pastures are poor in quality and quantity. The lowlands are almost bare (40% vegetation cover).The condition is likely to improve after the onset of the rains this month (November).

This is not a normal situation in the lowlands and can be attributed to prolonged periods of rainfall failure.

1.3 ACCESS TO WATER

WATER SOURCES

The main water sources in the district are traditional river wells, scooped water holes in dry sandy river beds, rain harvested water, water pans, boreholes, constructed shallow-wells ( in localised areas), rivers and dams. These are the normal water sources during this time of the year.

Return distances from the grazing areas to water sources continued to increase in the hilly masses and midlands with an average of 3 kilometres. The same continued to increase in the marginal mixed farming zones especially Makindu, kibwezi and Mtito andei (over 5kms).This is likely to improve in November.

Longer distances to water points have continued to contribute to poor livestock health in the lowlands and midlands.

Distances of households to water points increased in the midlands and hilly masses with an average of1.5 km where as in the lowlands the distances continued to increase to an estimated 10 Kms in some areas. This has started changing after the onset of rains.

Implications on food security-:

Farmers have used more time looking for water for their livestock and for domestic use compared to last month. Livestock health is still worsening more especially in the lowlands where water and pasture is more scarce. Less time was used in productive farming activities.

On the other hand human health is becoming highly vulnerable to diseases in the lowlands as the water quantity and quality deteriorates coupled with famine.

2. RURAL ECONOMY INDICATORS

2.1 Livestock body conditions

Livestock exhibited signs of deterioration compared to last month.

Generally poor pastures and longer distances to water points have led to this.

This is a normal occurrence at this time of the year.

2.2 Livestock health

No livestock disease outbreaks reported in the district.

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