Tana River, Nyeri, Murang’a Counties adopt measures to ease drought effects

The State Department of Livestock and the Tana River Department of Livestock have rolled out a livestock insurance project dubbed “DRIVE” to cushion farmers against the effects of climatic shocks.

This comes against the backdrop of a biting drought for the last four years. The project is being piloted in Wajir and Tana River counties. It will replace the Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme (KLIP) which was launched in 2016.

Unlike in KLIP whereby the government paid the entire premium for the beneficiaries, in the project’s second phase, the farmers will contribute 20 per cent and the state 80 per cent.

Tana River County Director of Livestock Production, Nzioka Wambua said for every five units of cattle the premium is Ksh 14,000 and a pastoralist only pays Ksh 2,800. He said from 2016 to 2022 more than Ksh 200 million was paid to the 2,500 Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme in Tana River.

An emaciated cattle in Wayu ward, Galole Constituency. The ward is one of the worst affected by the ravaging drought.
Photo by Sadik Hassan

The department has so far registered 6,000 pastoralists electronically using a mobile application.

The information, the County Livestock Production said, is sent to a central server at the click of a button and then a photo is taken unlike before this will help to monitor.

The payout is determined by the severity of the drought.

Meanwhile, Nyeri Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), Executive Secretary, Francis Wanjohi, has called for urgent measures to address the drought situation currently ravaging parts of the County.

Speaking hours after President William Ruto flagged off the first consignment of relief food to drought-stricken counties currently reeling under the grip of biting hunger, Wanjohi says hundreds of learners in locations bordering Laikipia County are facing acute food shortage due to failed rains.

President William Ruto flags off the first consignment of relief food to drought-stricken counties

He warns that unless drastic measures are taken to address the situation, scores of schools in those areas could soon start recording increased cases of absenteeism, as children skip classes due to hunger.

On Sunday Governor Mutahi Kahiga urged the government to list Nyeri as an ASAL area, claiming that more than 55,000 residents of Kieni Sub-county are in dire need of relief food following failed rains in the last five seasons.

A report by the National Drought Management Authority identified Thegu, Mugunda and lower parts of Mwiyogo, as among the worst hit regions by the dry spell with reports of animals have died due to lack of pasture.

Elsewhere, as drought continues to ravage most parts of the country causing acute food shortages for both humans and livestock, a Murang’a-based farm consultant has urged dairy and livestock farmers in both arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) of Kenya to embrace climate-smart agriculture.

James Gathumbi opines that the newest hybrid super Napier grass is currently the fastest growing and drought-resistant animal fodder crop and arguably a game changer in the dairy industry worldwide.

“Super Napier also known as Pakchong I is obtained by crossing the ordinary Napier (elephant grass) with pearl millet which gives it a drought-resisting ability,” he notes.

The super Napier grass has been found to have milk boosting capabilities due to its high protein content of 18 per cent which is crucial for milk production and matures within 45 days.

The fast-growing fodder attains a height of 2.4 meters just 60 days after planting and is a highly vegetative plant that has done well in dry areas like Narok and Malindi.

From an acre piece of land, a farmer will harvest up to 200 tons of the revolutionary pakchong I Super Napier per year which is enough to sustain 15-20 animals in a zero-grazing structure.

Super Napier also known as Pakchong I

When planted, the farm consultant divulged that the grass would remain productive for up to 20 years without re-establishment.

The fodder is highly palatable to all livestock, camels, rabbits and goats and can even be fed to chicken and fish as pellets.

The report by the NDMA also indicates that more than 23 counties in arid and semi-arid lands are faced with acute food shortages and inadequate pasture and water for their animals.

The drought situation in the country is due to the dismal performance of the March-May long rains, the short rains and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Notably, the situation has further been exacerbated by the desert locusts’ invasion of the country.

Five seasons of failed rains have put the lives of close to four (4) million Kenyans on the line.

Hundreds of livestock have also been reported to have died from the prevailing drought, especially in the former Northern Frontier Districts of Mandera, Garissa and Wajir.

Other counties also bearing the brunt of the crisis include Meru, Kajiado, Laikipia, Baringo and Turkana.


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