Farmers whose livestock are at risk of starving as a result of prolonged drought in Tana River appeal to the government to increase the prices of livestock in the ongoing national livestock off-take programme.
The government targets 730 cattle in the ongoing phase two of the livestock off-take programme in Tana.
The government is buying a cow at Sh15, 000; the farmers now want the price to be up to Sh25, 000 per cow citing an upsurge in basic commodities prices. They also want to be compensated for the livestock they have lost.
Omar Godana a resident of Makutano village in the Galole constituency said the effects of the current drought have surpassed the one they witnessed in 1984.
“The livestock we had are all dead, water is also a problem, and the living conditions have also changed. The cost of living has skyrocketed and people do not have any income,’’ he said.
Godana added that many water sources have dried up and taking their livestock to River Tana is a recipe for conflicts with the farming communities who stay along the riverine. Prices of cattle, he says, have reduced from Sh60, 000 to Sh30, 000 as a result of the poor body condition of the cattle.
Isaack Dara is counting losses after his cattle succumb to the vagaries of drought. He is remaining with only 25 cattle which are in Tana Delta Sub-County which has relatively good vegetation cover.
“The drought that has hit us this year is very surprising. I had 150 cows but those cows have all died this year, I am left with only 25 cows. Even at this hour, I have failed to graze the cattle in this area because there is no water and pasture.
I am appealing to the national and county governments to help us even though education has now become a problem; children are starting to run away from school, I would plead with the government to assist us,” he said.
Esha Guyato, a women leader in Kalkacha said women have borne the brunt of the famine saying they are forced to trek for long in the pursuit of water.
She said, “If the central government and the county are there, we have a water problem for human and livestock consumption. The government should hurry up and bring us food, the meat we are given by the Red Cross, they better substitute it with food as soon as possible, we are about to die of hunger”.
Ismael Lema said instead of the meat they are given after cattle are slaughtered they should instead be given cash. “The meat only sustains us for a day. It’s a good program but they should give us money,” he said.
Tana River has not received adequate rains in the last four seasons and the situation may worsen as the Kenya Meteorological department in its forecast for October-December 2022 season that Tana is among five coastal counties that have probabilities for below-average (highly depressed) rainfall.
According to the National Drought Management Authority Drought, an early warning bulletin for August 2022 has observed that most open water sources within pastoral livelihood zones have dried up.
The NDMA bulletin reads, “The pasture is poor and depleted in quantity and quality in pastoral livelihood zones, fair to poor in marginal mixed livelihood zones and fair to good in mixed farming livelihood zones. This is attributed to lack of rains and high influx of livestock from North Eastern which has led to overgrazing”.
“The current pasture is expected to last for less than one month in pastoral and marginal mixed and two months in the mixed farming livelihood zones”.
By Sadik Hassan