Kenya

Turkana District: Drought Monthly Bulletin, February 2006

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SITUATION OVERVIEW

Rainfall was very low and scattered, falling mostly at the border areas during the 3rd dekad of February.

District wide, the vegetation cover condition of pasture/browses deteriorated and depleted in areas of concentrated grazing, for example around the main wells and also including most insecure areas.

Most water sources continued registering low yields and dry up of the water sources, where water tables levels declined due to the prolonged dry weather conditions. The underground water sources along seasonal streams were still yielding adequately, but those away from the riverine areas are still facing water problems. Trekking long distances to watering points' affects most hot-hit rural areas beneficiaries.

The body condition of most livestock species, especially small stock & cattle remained poorly weak and emaciated due to scarcity of forage. Health status of livestock in areas where there was high influx of animals continued to deteriorated from being starving - lacking enough pastures and water, and drought disease outbreaks, e.g., Kakimat (Kerio Division), Kapua/Loboolo (Kalokol Division), Nachukui (Lokitaung Division), Lokadwaran (Central Division), etc attributed to prolonged drought.

The livestock growth rate was negative and worsening the downward trend which is primarily the result of dry spell. Within the District, camels' production indicators showed slightly some positive improvement.

In February, livestock sales offered in rural centres were very low while high in some urban centres i.e., - Lokichoggio, Kakuma, Lodwar, Kerio and Lokichar. The livestock prices have currently declined as they have been precipitated by poor condition of the trade stock offered for sale (small stock) due prolonged drought. Fewer large stocks were being offered for sale earning low prices depending on body sizes and health.

Few agro-pastoralists continue with land preparation and cleaning of irrigation canals. This agricultural activity is undertaken along Kerio and Turkwel rivers and some from water harvesting structures and other rain fed farms.

Prolonged drought continued to undermine the pastoralists' purchasing power thus causing low milk availability, declining livestock prices against higher cereal prices and well-wishers.

Milk consumption marginally increased slightly as shown by the proportion of households where every one (16.0%HHs) and decreased Children only (20.8% of HHs) consumed milk, which is quite low. Overall, the trend in milk consumption dropped down very fast as the drought condition worsened, especially as reported at insecure areas of Natapar Location (Kibish) and Kalemungorok (Katilu/Kainuk) divisions whereby large livestock number concentrated insearch of pastures and water.

The nutritional status of children aged 1-5 years old continued worsening due to low milk availability, although there is evident improvement in the MUAC readings for % at risk (25.38), at % moderate (3.72) and at % severe (0.32) categories.

To the southern region, conflicts between West Pokot over livestock and pasture deteriorated leading to migration of Turkana tribesmen from Napeitom Location to Lomello is the divisional Headquarters despite availability of good forage at Napeitom.

Although tribal conflicts shaped grazing strategies, actual incidences of fighting were low during the month, the international borders remained quite insecure, i.e., Dassanach (Marilee) of Ethiopia's tribe and Toposas of Southern Sudan.

DETAILED ANALYSIS FOR KEY INDICATORS

1.0 Environmental and Grazing Conditions

1.1 Rainfall

The long dry spell which prevailed during the month of January to February, with no significant figures of rain being recorded or realized across the entire district. Rainfall was very low and scattered, falling mostly at the border areas during the 3rd dekad of the month; very little and un-measurable. This attributed to the start of the long rains season.

Some light showers which were poorly distributed were realized in the upper lying rangelands of north-western through northeast region, western and southern divisions of Katilu and Kainuk. Despite this, only two out of the nineteen (19) functional rainfall stations recorded rainfall totals below their long-term averages, i.e., Loarengak Dispensary recorded (10.8mm), Lodwar MET Station recorded (4.3mm) and the remaining stations recorded nil (0.0mm) or no data. This also attributes to Meteorological lack of departmental transport for rainfall data collection/verification and supervision.

1.2 Natural Vegetation and Pastures Conditions

Failure of the short rains, and continued prolonged drought, has taken its toll on condition of the range resources. The vegetation is very thin and dry and low in quality. Browses are too dry, hard and thorny.

The average distance to grazing areas remained maintained between 5-10 km and return time to & from grazing ranges between 2-3 hours, showing significant increase in distances to grazing areas as the dry conditions build up, especially, from rural areas a part from those concentrates along and near seasonal riverbanks places.

1.3 Water sources

1.3.1 Use of Water Sources

Water availability was decreasing quite considerably, following dry spell. Water level and discharge rate of water sources - boreholes/shallow-wells was declining. However, surface water sources along the riverbeds of Kerio and Turkwel seasonal rivers still have adequate yields. Trekking long distances to watering points recorded and affect most hot-hit rural areas beneficiaries.

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

Pastoralists' communities now access water at an average distance of 2-5km, significant difference as compared to 5-10km during the same period last year.

Pastoralists/livestock within the central/lower plains trek for average distances of 5-6km to water points. Return time ranges between 2-3 hours per a walk. This is considered quite normal within these pastoral grazing areas during dry season.

The table below indicates average return distances & time to and from the water sources - drought/good years.

Water source (1) Traditional dug river wells (2) Rock Catchments pools/Surface dams
(3) Constructed shallow wells (4) Boreholes
(5) Other natural resources such as Lake and spring water
Return distance (Kms) to the water source 5 Kms
Return time from the water source 2 Hours

Note! At drought period people move and live near riverbanks for forage support weak animals and to reduce livestock mortality rate.

2.0 Pastoral Economy / Production System

2.1 Livestock Production & Marketing

2.1.1 Livestock Body Condition

The body condition of most livestock species notably deteriorated especially small stock and cattle, with a downward trend growth rate; attributes mainly to birth rates decline among all livestock species (cattle & shoats) due to diminishing pasture availability, even within the traditional dry season grazing areas. This situation has been exacerbated further by the higher concentration of livestock within these areas. However, camels at a standstill maintained their strapping body condition, although in areas where reported camels trypanosomiasis and mange were endemic, their nutritional status was worsening.

The body condition of most livestock species, especially small stock & cattle remained poor and below normal.

Health status of livestock in areas where there was high influx of animals continued to deteriorated from being emaciated and starving - lacking enough pastures and water, and drought disease outbreaks, especially Kakimat (Kerio Division), Kapua/Loboolo (Kalokol Division), Nachukui (Lokitaung Division), Lokadwaran (Central Division), etc attributed to prolonged drought - lead to higher increase mortality rate of small stock and cattle at the above named areas plus others left un-mentioned.

2.1.2 Livestock Health condition (in terms of diseases affecting cattle, goats, sheep and others)

Despite deteriorating forage condition, the health status of most herds subsequently taken to mobile grazing camps remained fairly good.

No major livestock disease outbreak was reported. There were few evident cases reported such like: - diarrhoeal cases linked to worms infection, CBPP, CCPP and added the following small stock diseases: - abortion, Lumpy Skin

Disease and Mange still reported from highly concentrated livestock within lower and upper rangelands, within the entire district. However, - linked mainly to prolonged dry spell that caused turn down nutritional status of livestock.

Generally, most herders had reported high morbidity and mortality rates associated with failure of short rains and lack of pasture/browse/forage and thirst that had continued to affect if at all possible small stock.