Minister warns over livestock deaths from drought
Cabinet minister Mohamed Kuti Wednesday gave a warning signal over the impending deaths of livestock in arid and semi-arid areas.
Mr Kuti, the Livestock minister, said the adversely hot weather conditions were exposing the animals to dangerous diseases and lack of feed that could lead to massive deaths. This follows hot on the heels of a similar drought in 2009, from which the minister says the industry has not fully recovered.
“The country is experiencing adverse weather conditions due to the predicted poor rainfall performance of the October to December 2010 season. It will lead to loss of pasture, water and livestock. Pasture and water in some areas are not expected to last beyond January 20. The animals at risk are six million cattle, sixteen million sheep and goats and 150,000 camels,” he said.
Speaking to the Press at his office in Nairobi, the minister further expressed concerns over the massive movement of the livestock , arguing that it would lead to disease outbreak. This has been coupled with long trekking distances of between 50 and 200 kilometres in search of water and pasture. To prevent this, the ministry has in the last five months carried out vaccinations and has so far reached two million animals.
According to Dr Kuti, the collection of many animals in few watering points and grazing fields would not only exert pressure on the few existing resources. It also has the capacity to cause large number of new infections by diseases such as Foot and Mouth, Anthrax, sheep and goat pox and CCCP. He added that it also exposed the animals to numerous parasites such as ticks.
Dr Kuti appealed to President Kibaki and Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta to urgently release funds that will enable the ministry put in place measures to tackle the expected effects of the La Nina drought. Dr Kuti also said the funds would enable the ministry provide the necessary livestock health services and provide feed supplements for the affected livestock.
“My ministry has put in place a contingency plan for mitigation of drought effects. The objectives of the plan include rapid protection of key livestock-related assets of crisis affected communities and to rebuild these assets.
To activate this plan, the ministry urgently needs Shs 1.5 billion. This will start off the livestock off take for slaughter and distribution of relief food as well as provision of water through tankering in centres without dams,” he said.
Assistant Minister Aden Duale also asked the crisis centre in the Prime Minister’s office to assist in the efforts of helping the people in the affected areas avoid large levels of losses due to the absence of rains.
“We are asking the PM’s crisis centre to respond to the need of the pastoral communities. This involves provision of food to the people in the 14 affected counties as well as livestock feed for their animals,” said the Dujis MP.
Among the most affected areas are rangelands in Garrissa, Ijara, Tana river, Taita Taveta and Kwale counties, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera and Samburu. In Ukambani, Kitui, Makueni and Machakos counties will also be affected as well as areas in Kajiado and Narok, which have received low rainfall.
He urged livestock farmers and pastoralists in the affected areas to sell their cattle to the government and other buyers before the situation becomes too unbearable, arguing that refusal to sell would only bring them losses in the end. He also advised them to embrace alternative ways of earning a living.
“I appeal to all stakeholders to be alert. For the farmers, it is time to sell the animals to the government and able ranchers. It is not wise to force the animals to search for food and water for over a 100 Km. Let us also look for other sustainable methods of eking a living, such as irrigation,” he said