It is a reprieve for Kajiado livestock farmers as they begin moving the remaining herds of cattle back to their homes as the March to May long rains season continues.
The herders who relocated in search of pasture to Nakuru, Makueni, Machakos, Kitui and Taita Taveta counties are now streaming back to their homes in Kajiado albeit with reduced herds.
Though their livestock numbers have greatly reduced, the farmers are grateful for the rains and are praying that the rain continues till the pasture for their livestock is fully replenished to help them restock.
One of the livestock herders, Mzee Peter Naikuni from Isinya Sub County said that he had 400 head of cattle while moving to Nakuru County in search of pasture in August last year but his herd has reduced to 200.
“I relocated to Nakuru county in August last year but I ended up losing 120 cows due to the different climatic conditions there which affected the cows. I later had to move to Kibwezi in Makueni County in January this year when the pasture depleted in Nakuru. I lost 80 cattle in Makueni due to diseases,” said Naikuni.
Naikuni lamented that he has spent over Sh 1million trying to ensure his herd survives as he was forced to buy pasture for his livestock to consume in the respective counties they relocated to.
Another farmer, Mzee Sapur Leyian shared the same fate with Mzee Naikuni. Leyian owned a hundred head of cattle before the ravaging drought commenced and has now been left with 20 cows.
“I relocated to Magadi in Kajiado West in June last year. I later moved to Narok in September. By December, I shifted to Taita Taveta county all in making sure my herds survive. I have spent about Sh 800,000 on the cattle now as I had to lease the parcels of land they grazed on. Due to their frail nature, I also had to use lorries and the train to transport them from Narok to Taita Taveta which was quite costly,” said Leyian.
Asked whether they plan to change their source of livelihood, the pastoralists said that the government should train them on modern ways of livestock keeping, fodder growing and build mega dams for them to have adequate water.
“We do not know any other means of sourcing for our livelihood, if the government can help us improve on what we already know concerning livestock keeping, we would appreciate it,” said the aged herdsmen.
According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), more than 2.6 million livestock deaths have been reported in the country as a result of the drought with losses from the deaths estimated at Sh226 billion.
By Diana Meneto