A crisis is looming in Ganze and Kaloleni sub counties in Kilifi County following the deaths of hundreds of animals due to drought.
Areas hardest hit by the problem are Goshi, Jira, Maryango and Nzovuni in Ganze Sub-County and some parts of Kabatheni and Tsangatsini in Kaloleni Sub-County.
More than 2,000 livestock farmers have to bear with the agony of seeing their animals, their only source of livelihood, dying every day.
They now want the national government through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) to speed up the process of purchasing their animals as a way assisting them.
When the Nation visited the affected areas on Monday animal carcasses could be seen lying along the road that stretches from Karimani Village to Goshi trading centre.
At the Giriama ranch which is almost drying up, carcasses of cows were strewn all over, indicating the magnitude of the losses residents are incurring as a result of the drought.
MOST SEVERE DROUGHT
Locals say they have never experienced such severe drought in the region.
“We no longer eat their meat. How many tons of meat can you eat [with animals dying] almost every day?
“I am sure for every hour, one cow or two die in this region. We have never seen this kind of drought,” said Mzee Karisa Birya from Bamba.
Mzee Birya, who treks for 35 kilometres daily from his village to bring his animals to drink water at the only remaining water pan, said he had lost 60 animals in the last two months.
“When I first came to camp in this area because of water, I had 100 animals.
“Now, as we speak, I have only 40 animals left. My worry is that they may continue to die if no mitigation measures are put in place by the government,” he said.
“No one expected that the drought would extend for two years. This is now a calamity. It is painful to see our animals die every day. This is what we entirely depend on, but we are doomed now,” he added.
WATER PAN DRYING UP
The expansive Giriama ranch water pan constructed in the 1970s by the government is on the verge of drying up.
Only a small swamp is remaining in the middle which thousands of livestock depend on for water.
“I can assure you that this water will not last a week. Now this is another crisis because if this water dries up, then we shall have to take our animals to Galana in Malindi, which is more than 100 kilometres away,” said Joseph Charo from Mitsemerini, Bamba.
Mr Charo says he walks for 30 kilometres to bring his animals to drink water. He brought his more than 300 animals to Goshi, but he has so far lost 150 animals.
“I have been walking all this time for more than 30 kilometres to bring these animals here. I am at a loss because I have lost more than 100 animals. The figure might increase because we have no water,” he said.
NDMA ASSESSED SITUATION
Mr Charo said officers from NDMA came to the region last month to assess the situation.
“They took photos of the water pan and the recorded everything that was happening. Unfortunately, they have never returned to brief us on their findings,” said Mr Charo.
Last week, County Commissioner Joseph Keter admitted that livestock farmers in the region had been greatly affected by the drought.
Mr Keter said that NDMA carried a survey on animal health in Kaloleni and Ganze sub counties.
“The government will use Sh9 million to buy 450 cows from farmers.
“The animals will then be slaughtered and meat given to the locals, mostly the vulnerable who include widows, the elderly and those living with disabilities,” said Mr Keter.
Another Sh9 million, the county commissioner said, will be used to purchase animal feeds to be distributed to livestock farmers in the region.