Mwingi District: Drought Monthly Bulletin, October 2006


Situation Overview

Agro-Pastoral Livelihood zone. (Tseikuru, Ngomeni, Kyuso, Mui, Mumoni, Nuu and Nguni The weather remained very hot both at day time and night with occasional cover of clouds at times. Insignificant drizzles reported in parts of Ngomeni and Tseikuru Divisions. Water accessibility worsening in the whole of this zone but the worst affected is Ngomeni Division where the only water source has dried forcing residents to trek very far distances to access water. Livestock body condition worsening specifically cattle and some has died owing to prevailing drought. Incidences of livestock endemic diseases (C.C.P.P, Trypanosomiasis and Anthrax) reported during the month. Households are engaged in final land preparation and planting. Pasture and browse is very scarce and lactating animals are too weak to forage on their own and some are fed under the shade unable to stand on themselves leading to slaughter out of distress. This was recorded in Nuu and Mui Divisions. Nutritional status of the under fives on a negative trend.

Mixed farming zone (Central, Migwani, parts of Kyuso and parts of Mui Divisions).

Very hot and windy weather prevailed during the month. Upper parts of Migwani recorded some rain that averaged 10.5 millimeters. Water availability and accessibility worsening specifically in Lower Migwani and parts of Mui Location. Few households with own shallow well are doing good business by selling water to the distressed households at two shillings per a twenty litre jerican. There is a general wasting and weakening of livestock. Pasture and browse has thinned and acacia pods that normally supplements pasture at this time failed to produce due to the prolonged dry spell witnessed for the last three years. Households are busy planting though only a few received relief seeds. Nutritional status is in a negative trend.


1.1 Rainfall

The month was very hot and dry characterized by isolated clouds in the evenings. Only one Division had reported some rain by the time of writing this report. Normally the onset of rain is between third week and fourth week meaning that the rain has delayed.

1.2 Condition of Natural Vegetation and Pasture.

Quality; Available pasture and browse quality is very poor. Preserved crop residue though inadequate is of good quality and is fed to the draught animals involved in land preparation. Quality is made worse by the windy weather which is scattering fallen leaves far from where livestock can access them. Households who have no own livestock are pledging high quality pasture while financially capable farmers are purchasing cut pasture good in quality but at a very exorbitant price. Quantity; Pasture and browse has reduced drastically and acacia pods that normally supplements thinning pasture is inadequate. Inadequacy of pasture has forced households encroach hills and Mwingi Game reserve at times causing conflict between the different communities and KWS personnel.

1.3 Water Sources and Availability

Traditional river beds, boreholes and rock catchments were the main water sources in use during the month. Households along the Tana River and within the Kiambere pipeline continued to use the water. Ngomeni rock catchment which is a crucial water source in Ngomeni and Nguni Divisions is completely dry. This is forcing residents to transnight queuing to access water in the available water points. Water tankering to institutions has become another common water source aimed to avoid early closure of schools. Available boreholes are very salty due to over use and only providing livestock water with some unconfirmed cases of still births of animals using such water. This was reported in Nguni, Ukasi borehole.

More time is spent while walking to access water in both zones. The only advantaged centers are those along TARDA piping system and households' proxy to Tana River and Nuu springs which are some of permanent water sources in the District. Households in agro pastoral zones are trekking over 14km one way to access water while those in mixed farming zone are covering over 10 km to access water. This is expected to continue till onset of rain in the month of late October.

1.4 Emerging issues

1.4.1 Conflict:

Wildlife attacking and killing livestock specifically the young shoats and chickens were reported in Waita Location and Thaana nzau Location. The monkey are reported to be killing the young animals due to water stress as they are more interested in alimentary canal contents and leaves the animal external parts un eaten but all the inner liquid like contents are all eaten. The same monkeys and other rodents are scooping planted crops that further erode farmer's confidence to plant which impacts negatively to future household food security.

1.4.2 Migration(Human and Livestock)

Households who had left their fixed abode with livestock in search of pasture have started arriving to prepare for planting. Previously relocated oxen are seen spending the whole day preparing land.

1.4.2 Other Factors Likely to Affect Livelihoods

Wildlife menace in the reported Locations will impact negatively to future household food security in that they are reducing chances of seed germination as they scoop and eat them and therefore farmers are forced to replant. This is very costly as seeds are costing more in terms of finance and labour. The mortality caused by wild animal predation is also reducing household livestock assets which are the only source of income.

1.5 Implications on Food Security.

Return of able bodied individuals who had left during the months of August and September will improve future food availability in that they have come to prepare their farms and plant. Reported incidences of wildlife attack on planted seeds and livestock is impacting negatively on household asset net worth and thereby eroding household purchasing power.

2. Rural Indicators (Food Availability)

2.1 Livestock Production

2.1.1 Livestock body condition

There is a general weakening of livestock body condition of all species but the worst affected are cattle. Sheep and goats body is fair in mixed farming zone where acacia pods are supplementing pasture but the amount of pods is below normal owing to the reported drought for the last three years. Most lactating animals are too weak to stand on their own and some are slaughtered for food after several days of being fed under the shade. The meat is there after loaned to local residents with agreement to pay latter once the situation improves. This was notably reported and witnessed in Nuu and Mui Divisions by the DCU. Incidences of livestock diseases outbreak is impacting negatively livestock body condition.

2.1.2 Livestock Diseases

Anthrax outbreak was confirmed last moth in Tseikuru Division leading to closure of Tseikuru market. Several households in both zones reported unconfirmed cases of C.C.P.P while few in Mumoni Division reported unconfirmed cases of Trypanosomiasis.

2.1.3 Milk Production

Milk production has been on a negative trend for the last three months owing to thinning pastoral resources. Goat's milk production stagnated at 0.4per litre per household while cow's milk production dropped from 0.24 recorded last month to current 0.18 litres per household. Poor body condition as a result of pasture inadequacy and poor health may explain the low milk production.

2.2 Crop Production

2.2.1 Timeliness and Condition of Various Crop Production Activities.

No food crops are in the farms as the planted crops have not germinated. The fruit crops notably the mangoes are in good condition. Some are in fruit development stage and will be mature by the end of the month of December and early January.

2.2.2 Pests and Diseases

Planted seeds are being destroyed by rodents and monkeys mostly in Thaana nzau and Waita Locations.

2.2.3 Implications on food security.

Reduced milk production is impacting negatively on human nutrition. Livestock predation and mortality is also impacting negatively on household food security. Poor animal body condition translates to poor prices and reduced work power.

3 Access to Food

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