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Drought situation at an alert stage, NDMA reports

Turkana County drought situation is at an alert stage and worsening according to the latest National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) early warning bulletin.

The June 2022 bulletin indicates that pastoral areas are at an alert stage and worsening, and the same case applies to fisheries zones. Agro-pastoral zones are at an alert stage but stable.

During the reporting month, the return distance covered by Households from dwelling places to water sources was 6.9km, which was slightly higher by 11 percent compared to the distance recorded in the previous month.

The condition of livestock during the month was fair but was on a worsening trend. The county recorded nil amount of milk from own production, while livestock trekking distance increased and was above the average for such time of the year.

“The main factor that was a hindrance to livestock accessing pasture was insecurity especially in Turkana south and east sub counties where cases of livestock rustling was frequently reported,” the NDMA report says.

Pasture in fisheries livelihood zone was poor compared to the pastoral and agro pastoral zones. Browse typically consisted of shrubs and herbs which constituted drying twigs and half-succulent leaves that could be chewed by browsing livestock.

The condition of the browse that was considered to be good has degenerated by 50 percent compared to the previous month. Correspondingly, the proportion of poor browse increased by 67 percent from the one recorded in the previous month.

The existing browse is expected to last for two months or less due to the rising temperatures that will speed evaporation of soil moisture. During the month under analysis, the quality and quantity of browse had deteriorated in the county compared to the previous month.

This is attributed to the underperformance of the long rainy season that caused low water content in the soil coupled with high land surface temperatures that subjected the existing browse to rapid drying.

The proportion of main water sources relied upon by households and livestock in the month of June was 27.8 percent, 22.8 percent and 22.8 percent boreholes, Traditional River wells and shallow wells respectively. The quality and quantity of water declined compared to the previous month as the water table continued to rapidly go down due to poor recharge in the previous month. Open water sources like pans and dams had less than 30 percent of normal water capacity with other sources completely drying like for the case of dams in Kaaruko and Ngamia one.

The main river (Turkwel) flowing through Lodwar town into Lake Turkana had less than 40 percent of normal water capacity flowing on it. River Kerio had less than 10 percent of normal water capacity; comprising of a single little stream with most parts of the river bed remaining dry. It was reported also that the average time spent by households to queue at the water sources had increased to more than 15 minutes.

Three major livestock diseases that were reported during the month under review were; Contagious Bovine Pleural Pneumonia (CBPP) in cattle, Contagious Caprine Pleural Pneumonia (CCPP) in goats and coughing. However, during the month under review, no livestock deaths attributed to drought were reported in the county. Elsewhere, however, livestock deaths in goats and sheep due to unknown diseases were reported in Loima, Lokori, and Letea where animals were found to be having bloody intestines and swollen lungs.

On income generation, a 4-year-old medium sized bull was sold at an average price of Sh 12,300; a 2-year-old medium sized male goat was sold at Sh2, 139. Cattle was not readily available in major markets, since most cattle were within the borders of the county with Uganda and Ethiopia.

The proportion of children who were under-5 years and ‘at Risk’ of malnutrition was above the normal range. This is attributed to the stability in the food consumption score that were reported by households, as no food interventions were reported to have been done in the county during the review month.

Major insecurity cases that were reported were cattle rustling and competition for water and pasture resources along the borders of Turkana south and east and suspected bandits from West Pokot County and Baringo.

Cases of migration has been reported within and out of the county where livestock in Loima and Turkana west sub counties have migrated into Uganda despite a warning given by the Uganda government that banned Kenyan pastoralists from trespass.

Livestock in Turkana South have migrated towards Lorengippi and Loya which are vulnerable to raids and attack from bandits from Uganda and West Pokot. The current congestion of livestock in one location is of concern as it is an easy spread of different livestock and human diseases.

To deal with the prevailing situation, among the key recommendations from NDMA is to strengthen peace dialogue meetings and schedule inter-county and cross-border meetings for resource sharing among the warring communities. It also recommends equipping and construction of boreholes and dams.

In addition, the Authority wants improvement in health seeking behavior through demand creation, as well as provision of supplementary livestock feeds in hotspot areas.

By Peter Gitonga

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