Pastoralists count losses as climate change bites

Moyale District Livestock Production Officer said the animals died because they were very weak for lack of pasture.

Yusuf Sheikh Abdi makes a deposit at Wajir Crescent Takaful Sacco. Pastoralists are now insuring their animals against drought and other adverse climate conditions. PHOTO | BERNADINE MUTANU | NMG 

IN SUMMARY

  • Moyale District Livestock Production Officer Mr Ache Golicha said the animals died because they were very weak for lack of pasture and were unable to withstand extreme drop in temperature.
  • In March, the government launched cash payout to pastoralists in drought-hit counties of Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir. A total of Sh215 million was paid to the 12,604 households registered under the KLIP programme.
  • Other ways of meeting the challenges of drought are being explored in Northern Kenya where majority of the residents are Muslims.

Mr Tumal Orto Galdibe was shocked to wake up one day only to find hundreds of his livestock dead.

It was in the morning of April 30 when he lost 225 goats and sheep, five camels and two donkeys overnight. He lost animals worth Sh1.2 million, he estimated during an interview with Smart Company.

Surprisingly, the livestock died not because of drought, but because of something else.

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“I did not lose any animal because of dry spell, but a sudden change of temperatures killed them,” he said.

On the previous day, it had rained heavily and the downpour continued overnight. In the morning, his herd had died because of dramatic change of temperatures, he said.

And while thousands of livestock died in Marsabit between July 2016 and April 2017 due to drought, on that particular night around Huri Hills grazing fields in Marsabit, at least 20,000 livestock died, said Mr Galdibe.

He was not the only one who was counting losses. Molu Umuro lost 450 animals, Diba Yatani lost 95 while Mr Yatani Keka lost 110.

Moyale District Livestock Production Officer Mr Ache Golicha said the animals died because they were very weak for lack of pasture and were unable to withstand extreme drop in temperature.

It is a condition known as hypothermia, said Mr Isaac Borolo, Moyale Senior Livestock Officer during the interview.

“Temperatures go very low suddenly, and animals collapse because blood pressure goes down. The animal then becomes unconscious then dies,” he said.

It is a situation caused by heavy rainfall overnight, he explained, adding that very little could be done to save the animals.

The loss of such a huge number of livestock points to the devastating consequences of climatic change.

The pastoralists say something ought to be done to stave off such calamities which can wipe away their livelihoods.

According to recent statistics, pastoralists account to 60 per cent of the total population in Kenya and occupy over 70 per cent of the total land mass.

While the Ministry of Livestock has already introduced the Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme (KLIP), Mr Galdibe is sceptical about its effectiveness.

“They do not consult before launching some of these projects. They are not focused on large scale famers,” said Galdibe, who has not benefitted from the programme.

“National government provides (as a start) 100 per cent premium support for five tropical livestock units (TLU) belonging to vulnerable pastoralists,” said Mr Tom Kinara of State Department of Livestock during a recent presentation on Climate Change Resilience reporting.

The KLIP programme uses satellite indexing to identify and insure pastoralists in remote areas. Payouts are usually done in August and February, said Mr Kinara.

The indexing is done through satellite images of vegetable cover in arid and semi-arid areas.

If there is no vegetable cover, the system is triggered to release payments automatically to registered pastoralists.

One TLU is equivalent to five cows, or 3.7 camels or 10 sheep, Mr Kinara explained.

Every TLU is allocated Sh14,000, he said, meaning that if a pastoralist has five TLUs, (which is the maximum) then he gets Sh70,000.

The money is paid by insurance companies “directly to the accounts of the beneficiaries when there is a trigger.”

According to the Ministry of Livestock, Kenya remains vulnerable to frequent and extremely expensive natural disasters — high frequency of flooding every year and drought every two to four years.

In March, the government launched cash payout to pastoralists in drought-hit counties of Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River, Turkana and Wajir. A total of Sh215 million was paid to the 12,604 households registered under the KLIP programme.

Between 2000 and 2011, the government spent on average Sh4.2 billion on post-disaster relief per year, Mr Kinara said.

According to data, between 2008 and 2011, the Kenyan economy lost Sh968.6 billion to drought, out of which 72 per cent was related to livestock deaths.

The ministry says severe droughts cause up to 10 per cent of the losses.

Microfinance role

Other ways of meeting the challenges of drought are being explored in Northern Kenya where majority of the residents are Muslims.

Due to their faith, getting loans in the conventional banking system is not allowed.

It is on this premise that the Crescent Takaful Sacco (CTS) was introduced in North Eastern, specifically in Wajir.

The sacco targets the largely unbanked pastoralists, It offers loans and educates residents on the best ways to cope with extreme climate conditions.

“We do not have Sharia-compliant financial institutions in this area and that is why we focus on pastoralists, most of whom are Muslims.

We target financial inclusion for all,” said Ms Gladys Mutisya, the CTS Microfinance manager during a recent interview.

The microfinance extends loans to pastoralists with a repayment period of up to two years, she said.

The loans help pastoralists to develop ways to cope by, for example, starting small profitable businesses to supplement pastoralism.

This has been made possible through collaboration with Mercy Corps, a non-governmental institution, which links the pastoralists to the Sacco.

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