By ALI ABDI
The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) will spend Sh1.7 billion to boost the livestock sector in Isiolo and Marsabit counties.
The amount to be disbursed through USAid partner, Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands — Accelerated Growth (Regal-AG) will be used over the next five years to spur the livestock sector in the two arid counties.
Isiolo Governor, Godana Doyo and Regal-AG Chief of Party Cary Farley signed a memorandum of understanding at the governor’s office yesterday. County Secretary Ibrahim Wako and the Executive in charge of Lands and Agriculture Suleiman Shunu accompanied Doyo. Regal-AG Isiolo regional manager Erastus Kyalo accompanied Dr Farley. A similar MoU was signed with Marsabit County two weeks ago.
Farley said the initiative is aimed at building the capacity of pastoralists in the two counties that will eventually improve the livestock sector. ‘‘This USAid project is part of the US government’s Feed the Future strategy,’’ said Farley.
He said the project locally is intended to empower the poor to take part in and benefit from sustained growth of the livestock chain that is critical to the pastoralists’ livelihoods.
The funds will be used to improve environment, expand end market and catalyse commercial investment. They will also improve livestock productivity and promote value chain inclusivity of women and youth among others.
Doyo said successive government policy in northern Kenya had neglected the livestock sector, which is the backbone of its economy.
‘‘We welcome this noble gesture because it will improve the livestock sector in the entire northern Kenya region and in the process spur economic growth,’’ he said.
He said the counties in the region are working with the National Government to set up disease free zones to ensure that livestock are free from contagious diseases.
‘‘We are working on a grand plan to eradicate livestock diseases in the region. This had been a major constrain in getting international market for our livestock and its products,’’ he said.
Establishment of holding grounds at proposed abattoirs in Isiolo and other neighbouring counties said the governor will help in value addition for livestock and its products.