The ongoing drought in Kenya has affected more than 1.3million in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya. Tana River County which is located in the coastal province of Kenya and currently under alarm stage in the drought cycle and has more than 21,000 people currently in need of food assistance. The county presents an interesting case of the nexus between conflict and food security and other persisting vulnerabilities such as floods. The drought has impacted negatively on both human and livestock populations. Malnutrition rate has risen to critical level of 15% and livestock mortality rate of 5% for cattle and 3% of sheep has been reported across the county. These livestock deaths are drought related and a series of National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) drought bulletins indicate that the livestock condition and production have gradually worsened mainly because access to feed and water is reduced; livestock market values have declined and grain prices increased as a result human food security has also worsened.
Over 14% of the population in Tana River County depends on livestock for income and food. To livestock keepers’ animals are 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. For the households and individuals that depend on livestock for their livelihoods, vulnerability is directly linked to livestock assets. The greater the value of livestock assets, the greater the resilience of households to cope with shocks.
Without sufficient livestock to provide for their food needs many pastoralists in Tana River County have become dependent on food aid from government, aid agencies and well wishers. The losses suffered by the pastoralists effectively destroyed their livelihoods.
Through the IFRC DREF loan funding, Kenya Red Cross Society is carrying out ‘slaughter destocking’ activities with an aim to remove the affected animals before they become emaciated, lose their value, die or pose a risk of public health. Destocking releases the value tied up in those animals and provides much needed cash and meat to vulnerable communities.
Through high level community engagement KRCS purchased very weak livestock (with visible four thin ribs) from willing pastoralists at an agreed price of Kshs 15,000 per cow and kshs 5000 per goat. So far the fresh meat from the slaughtered livestock have been distributed to 4206 affected persons based on one goat between 3 to 4 families and one cow between 8 to 10 families in 10 villages within Tana North sub county. Because meat is perishable, the beneficiaries are expected to take immediate action to preserve it by salting, boiling or drying.
By Noellah Musundi