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FAO to install Sh840m drought warning system

BUSINESS
By | March 16th 2012

By Antony Gitonga

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will rollout Sh840 million drought early warning system across the country.

Under the waterhole monitoring for livestock early warning system, the United Nation’s body said they are working with donors on the five-year project.

Parts of Turkana County, which is benefitting from the system, have started to feel effects of harsh weather. Mr Joseph Matere from FAO noted the system would address water and forage in arid and semi arid lands.

According to Matere, a pilot project conducted in Turkana was successful hence the need to move to other parts of the country.

Matere said the project would add value to the current existing systems where all information on livestock would be available at the touch of the button.

"We used $29,000 in the pilot project and we expect to use a further $10 million in five years once our proposal to the donors goes through," he said. The officer added that they are working to have the system installed in all parts of the country to make sure that information on water is available.

"We want to make a model that will forecast the migration pattern for pastoralists and a forecast on the prices of livestock," he said.

Matere said funds will also be used for expansion of existing water sources, vaccination, de-worming and increase in fodder production.

Dr Laban MacOpiyo from University of Nairobi termed the project unique, saying there was no such water system anywhere else in the country.

"This is a real time early warning system, which has reliable, accurate and timely information on water resources," he noted. Turkana district livestock officer Christopher Ajele admitted that water condition in the region was getting worse and pastoralists had started moving.

Mobile phones

"The biggest challenge we have is water, staff shortage and underfunding in the ministry," he said.

The lead water monitor for the project, Ms Elizabeth Lokorio, said the new system will help members of Turkana community save their livestock.

"For a long time, we have lost hundreds of livestock but through this early warning system, such calamities will be avoided," he noted.

Under the project that is been carried out by FAO, in collaboration with University of Nairobi and Texas A&M University, smart mobile phones will be used to collect information from the ground and instantly posted to a website.

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