Kenya

Turkana District: Drought Monthly Bulletin, April 2006

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SITUATION OVERVIEW

Most parts of the district received ample amounts of rain, though most weather stations recorded below Normal figures. Five functional rainfall stations recorded rainfall totalling well below their long-term averages, i.e., Lokori Hydrological station recorded (74.9mm), Lodwar MET Station recorded (36.5mm), Kaeris station recorded 15.8mm, Kanakurudio Dispensary recorded (15.1mm), Loarengak Dispensary recorded (15.0mm); and the remaining stations have not reported any data.

Despite onset of the long awaited season rains, its impact in terms of improved quality and availability of the grazing resources quantity remains quite limited - especially in the lowland areas of Kalapata through central up to northern plains.

Although there has been notable improvement in the browse conditions, regeneration of pasture has been curtailed by inadequate /poor beginning of the rains in many parts of the district as mentioned above.

Access to water has fairly improved following recharge of some of the critical water sources - attributed to relatively moderate rains that realized in the district during the month under-review. The major seasonal streams (Kerio & Turkwel) and Tarach, which receive much of the regular regime from catchments areas outside the district, have started flowing. Since, some of the critical water sources within key grazing areas were not adequately recharged, trekking long distances to watering points' continued to be a norm in many parts of the district.

Livestock health conditions have slightly improved since range conditions are limited and insufficient; livestock productivity is still low. The physical body condition of most livestock is still poor, while milk production still remains below normal levels for the season. Livestock massive deaths of small stock and some camels were reported as caused by the rain floods at Kalobeyei, Loarengak and Napusimoru, attributed to the weak/starved body condition.

Livestock birthrates, especially small stock is very low.

Livestock offered for sale in rural centres at household level were few. The livestock prices have slightly picked up because of the low trade stock offered for sale (small stock). Few large stocks offered for sale, fetch low prices due to poor body condition.

Planting has begun in irrigation schemes along rivers Kerio & Turkwel and in rain fed farming regions using water harvesting techniques/technology embraced I many regions..

As shown by the proportion of households' level, milk consumption is well below normal where every one (4.8%HHs) and slightly increased in Children only (26.9% of HHs) consumed milk, which is relatively low. Generally, the trend in milk consumption slightly picked-up attributed to onset of the long rains season, reported in areas of livestock concentration.

Nutrition status of children MUAC<135mm among those sampled continued worsening, attributed to low consumption of livestock products, although there is evident increase in the MUAC readings for % at risk (24.33), at % moderate (3.43) and at % severe (1.12) categories. Rates of children malnutrition are well over the World Health Organization's Global Acute Malnutrition rate critical threshold 15 percent (%), exceeding 20% in all areas where the distribution was intended to take place.

There is high insecurity in contrast to Government disarmament efforts at the district border areas - especially, at the southern region due to conflicts with the neighbouring district (East/West) Pokot, and a bit calm at international borders of Ethiopians [Dassanach (Marilee/Dongiros)], Southern Sudan (Toposas) and Ugandans Tepes/Karamoja) usually caused by livestock and pasture.

Rains received along rangeland areas were moderate to above normal in the northern, western and southern regions borders and well below normal and about normal at the lowlands and dry at the central parts of the district respectively.

Despite this, only five (5) out of the nineteen (19) functional rainfall stations recorded April '06 rainfall totalling below their long-term averages, i.e., Lokori Hydrological Station recorded (74.9mm), Lodwar MET Station recorded (36.5mm), Kaeris recorded 15.8mm, Kanakurudio Dispensary recorded (15.1mm), Loarengak Dispensary recorded (15.0mm); and the remaining stations recorded nil (0.0mm) or no data. Lack of data was attributed to Meteorological lacking departmental transport for rainfall data collection/verification and supervision

1.2 Forage (pasture and browse) Conditions

Vegetation conditions have slightly improved owing to the fair spatial distribution of rain. Few livestock herders still concentrated at the insecure dry grazing areas likes of Kakongu in Katilu division and around the main water pans & dams. A good number of Pastoralists have returned to their wet season grazing areas. Increased insecurity at dry seasonal grazing grounds has accelerated the move to the wet season grazing areas.

The average distance to grazing areas remained between 5-10 km and return time from grazing ranges 2-3 hours, showing significant increase in distances to grazing areas as the dry conditions still shows continued drought stress.

1.3 Access to Water

1.3.1 Use of Water Sources

Water sources have been recharged, - attributed to the continued spatial distribution of rains realized during April. Most surface and underground water sources along seasonal streams (Kerio & Turkwel) and Songot/Mogila ranges still had some adequate volumes and yields of water have somehow been recharged. Trekking long distances to watering points' reduced generally.

Availability of water in areas that usually have acute water problems has slightly improved. Some areas continued receiving water tinkering in the district during the month under-review.

1.3.2 Average Return Distance to and Time (Hours) From Water Sources

Pastoralists' communities access water at an average distance of 2-5km, a big improvement in wet season from the 15-30km distances in the height of dry spell (drought).

Within the central/lower plains, nomads and livestock trek for average distances of 5-6km to water points during dry period. Return time ranges between 2-3 hours per walk is considered quite normal within these pastoral grazing areas at the same period during dry season and less at the wet season time.