Livestock losses loom as drought bites Asal areas, says PS

Thursday, September 16th, 2021 00:00 |
Cattle rearing. Photo/Courtesy

FAMINE:  The State warned yesterday that a severe drought ravaging the expansive arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) region could lead to livestock losses and collapse of economic livelihoods as grazing lands deteriorate. 

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai cautioned that productivity of rangelands is worsening as the severe drought continues to bite.

“The yield of the grazing areas is under a lot of threat of the current state of dehydration. This might lead to loss of animals and dismal performance of the available economic opportunities,” he said. 

Kimtai was speaking during a media engagement at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) headquarters ahead of the upcoming virtual joint international grassland and rangeland congress. 

The meeting is dubbed; “Sustainable Use of Grassland and Rangeland Resources for Improved Livelihoods”.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last week declared the drought facing a good number of counties as a national disaster.

Kimtai said 18 counties from the ASAL region are suffering from the severe drought. 

The region occupy 80 per cent of land and home to about 10 million people. It supports about 70 per cent of the national livestock population and 90 per cent of wildlife that is key to the tourism industry.

“Unfortunately, the productivity of these rangelands has been greatly affected by the frequent droughts and floods that characterise the impacts of climate change and variability,” he explained.

Relief assistance

Especially the ASALs, are susceptible to these changes of weather and are characterised by high incidences of poverty and malnutrition requiring frequent relief assistance. 

Chairman of International Grassland Congress Continuing Committee Ray Smith said grassland and rangeland are interrelated and management of the same is crucial in restoring the pastoralists economic livelihood. 

Eliud Kireger, Kalro director general said his organisation is working towards the introduction of more adapted and productive grasses and improved livestock such as the Boran and Sahiwal cattle.

“These improved cattle are both high in productivity and well adapted to the range and grasslands and can be used to improve the small African zebu,” he added.

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