Over 2,500 households from Lamu County relying on pastoralism for their livelihoods are targeted in the expected implementation of the National Livestock Insurance Scheme before the end of the year.
The project which has been at its pilot stage in other counties such as Marsabit intends to protect livestock keepers from drought related asset losses they face, particularly those in the drought prone arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).
Speaking to Opera News Hub on Thursday, Lamu County Government Chief Officer for Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives, Gichohi Mathenge asked the pastoralists in the region to be patient as processes are already ongoing to have the livestock insurance scheme rolled out as soon as possible.
Mr Mathenge said such an initiative is crucial for pastoralists in Lamu whose livelihoods rely solely or partly on livestock, especially during this period of ravaging drought where livestock mortality rate is likely to rise.
“The resulting high livestock mortality rate during drought spells has always had devastating effects on asset levels, rendering most of our herders here amongst the vulnerable population in the country. That’s why processes are already ongoing to have the national livestock insurance program rolled out here in Lamu before the end of this year,” said Mr Mathenge.
He said the devolved unit was also in the process of soliciting for more budgetary allocation in order to support the National Livestock Insurance project by ensuring more households are registered and benefiting from the scheme this financial year.
This year the county set aside Sh10 million to undertake various livestock programs, including provision of drugs, vaccination exercises and water trucking to help curb further effects caused by the ongoing drought.
Mr Mathenge noted that water pans, boreholes, wells and dam establishment had been undertaken in places like Nagelle, Pangani, Mkunumbi, Lumshi and other areas of the county.
Apart from assisting the pastoralists, the department has also received assistance from other development partners, including World Bank’s Climate-Smart Agriculture and other climate resilience programmes that will see to it fishermen, crop farmers amongst others receiving the required aid during this period of drought.
“We have already received Sh151 million from Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) that will go along with saving lives, reduce poverty and addressing underlying inequalities and ensure economic returns are delivered in all the sectors. We are encouraging dairy and poultry farmers as well as fishers to form groups and get the cash to help fight the drought and other economic challenges,” said Mr Mathenge.
The Chief Officer’s sentiments come at a time when the pastoralist communities in Lamu are pushing for the urgent re-introduction of a destocking slaughter program to help them curb the huge losses incurred by animal keepers as drought continues to ravage Lamu and other parts of the country.
Lamu branch of the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council and Pastoralists Community spokesperson Khalif Hirbae said the destocking slaughter program is important as it will also help reduce pressure on pasture lands and the few available water sources.
Mr Hirbae noted that hundreds of livestock, mostly cows, continue to perish almost daily in Lamu owing to the ravaging drought in the region.
He said it is also important for the government and well-wishers to provide animal feeds to the pastoralists.
“We need the destocking slaughter introduced similar to the one undertaken in March, 2017. You can imagine almost 1000 cattle have already perished owing to drought. The destocking slaughter exercise will help the herders here get some cash instead of losing everything to drought,” said Mr Hirbae.
Abdi Yusuf, a pastoralist at Moa area in Witu reiterated that the destocking slaughter exercise will also enable locals to get food.
“Pastoralists will receive cash and at the same time the meat can be used for nutrition purposes,” said Mr Yusuf.
Contacted, Lamu County National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Coordinator Mohamed Dahir said a meeting by County Steering Group (CSG) on Food Security has been scheduled for Thursday and that destocking slaughter was among the key agenda of the meeting.
“NDMA has already recommended destocking slaughter as one of the drought mitigations in Lamu. We will present our report to the CSG and we expect to commence the program in early October once approved on Thursday,” said Mr Dahir.
Amongst the worst drought hit areas targeted for the program include Witu, Dide Waride, Chalaluma, Kitumbini, Moa, Pangani, Koreni, Mkunumbi, Lumshi, Pandanguo, Bar’goni, Hindi among others
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