Thursday, September 24, 2015

As droughts worsen, joined-up adaptations build resilience in Kenya

By Sophie Mbugua, BRACED
YAMICHA, Kenya - Gusts of wind blow the dust coming from thousands of animals as they make their way to Urura borehole in Kenya's arid northern Merti ward.
The well is set in a grazing area reserved for use only during severe drought periods. This dry month, about 3,000 cows, 12,000 goats and 1,800 donkeys access the strategic water reserve every day.
Abdi Matoiye from Biligi village and his 100 cows have walked for about 20 kilometres (12 miles) to get here - and it's not just the water that is the attraction.
Matoiye recently lost a cow after it was bitten by wild dogs infected with rabies. Now he is worried that the calf is showing signs of the disease too. Fortunately, a veterinarian is available to answer this distress call.
"A cow gets infected by sniffing bites from the bitten cow," Matoiye believes. "We are worried that more cows might die since we are sharing the grazing area and the borehole."
Matoiye and his cattle drink at the Urura well in Kenya’s Isiolo County. TRF/Sohie Mbugua
Northern Kenya, an arid region inhabited by nomadic pastoralists, is increasingly prone to droughts, a problem that has depleted livestock, water and pasture. Migration during drought periods exposes animals to diseases as they converge on remaining grazing land and watering points.
And pasture and water scarcity continue to be a key driving force for conflict between communities as livestock and people move around the counties of Marsabit, Moyale, Garissa, Isiolo and Wajir, locals say.
But a two-year effort to bring together a range of adaptations to the worsening drought - including new wells and other water sources, carefully managed grazing reserves and better veterinary care - is helping pastoralists such as Matoiye manage drought better and protect their animals, incomes and families.
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