Tharaka County: Drought Early Warning Bulletin for July 2014
Dry weather continued in most parts of the county similar to previous month with cool temperature and dusty conditions prevailing in the entire month of July.
As a result of continued dry spell in the last five dekads, the satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) depicted significantly below average vegetation conditions compared to the 2001 to 2010 mean.
Pasture and browse condition has deteriorated, from normal condition of being fair at this time of the year to a range of poor to fair across all livelihood zones.
Main sources of water were similar to the month of May comprising of rivers, traditional shallow wells, boreholes, pipelines and springs. Most of these sources were at minimum base flow especially for Marginal Mixed farming livelihood zone however, for Rainfed and Mixed Farming livelihood zones the levels were at a about 40-50 percent.
Distances to water sources at households increased from 3.67 km in the month of June to 3.93km for the period under review.
The distances to grazing areas increased from 4.63 km in June to 5.07 km in the month of July. This was above the long-term five year average of 2.67 km for this time of the year.
The livestock body condition especially for cattle was poor in Marginal Mixed farming zone, a range of fair to poor in Mixed Farming livelihood zone and Rainfed livelihood zone as attributed to the declining condition of browse and pasture.
Livestock markets recorded a negative trend for cattle with the average price decreasing further from Kshs. 10,666.75 in June to Ksh.9, 321.45 in July indicative of 12.61 percent decrease while goat price remained stable at Kshs. 2,365.93 in July from Kshs. 2,369.27 in the previous month.
Livestock productivity declined by 36.07 percent as evidenced in reduction in milk production and 42.04 percent decrease for the month of July in household milk consumption. Decrease in livestock production is attributed to deteriorating condition of pastures and browses coupled with increased watering distances especially in the Marginal Mixed Farming livelihood zone
The month under review was marked with below-average local production and depleted households food stocks. Maize prices were (Kshs 41.50), 36.07 percent above the five-year average of (Kshs 33.02) while price for millet was (Kshs. 50.40), 27.59 percent above the five-year average of (Kshs 39.50).
The main sources of household income in the month under review were casual labour at 32 percent and Petty Trading at 30 percent. There was a notable increase in sale of livestock and sale of charcoal from 9 percent and 6 percent to 13 percent and 9 percent respectively.
Terms of trade was stable at one goat exchanging for 57.01 kg of maize in July in comparison to one goat exchanging for 56 kg of maize in June 2014.
The proportion of children at risk of malnutrition whose MUAC measurement were below 135mm marginally increased from 8.67 percent in June to 10.3 percent in July implying that 10.3 percent of the assessed children are at risk of suffering from malnutrition in the period under review.
Human- Wildlife conflict has been reported in areas of Chiakariga (monkeys) and Kamanyaki (hippopotamus) destroying on farm crops under irrigation.
There has been intra migration in the month as livestock move in search of pasture and water from localized areas of Kamanyaki to Kanyuru, while those in Kanjoro moved to Mpuku.