Pokot herders migrate to Uganda amid drought

Joseph Lokapel, quenching thirst from Mworwongar water pan in Kacheliba constituency. Due to ongoing drought, livestock and locals depend on this lone water pan for water. [Irissheel Shanzu, Standard]

Water shortage and a lack of pasture have forced a majority of livestock keepers in West Pokot to move to Uganda.

The drought has affected 11 wards, with Agriculture County Executive Geoffrey Lipale saying if mitigation measures are not taken, the county will be at a worse crisis stage in February.

He said only four wards in West Pokot County are safe from the drought but even then, residents share the water pan with livestock and wild animals. “I urge the national government to supply relief food to the affected communities. The cash transfer programme is good, but there is a need to set aside funds to sink boreholes,” Lipale said.

He added that 400,000 people have been affected after the county experienced 85 per cent crop failure. “Where is the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary? They should not wait for livestock to die so that they can respond. This is the right time to take action to avert deaths."

Lipale continued, saying the county should supply ranch cubes to livestock keepers to boost the health of their animals. The drought has led to water sources like dams, water pans and rivers drying up. The few that are yet to dry up are depleting fast.

Morwongar area in Suam ward, Kacheliba constituency, and Kotulupogh areas in Central Pokot Sub-County are the most affected as residents and livestock scramble for water at the only water pan and pump.

Resident Joseph Lokapel from Suam ward in Kacheliba said they have been using one water pan for 30 years. He said most of the rivers have dried up and women are forced to walk 20km to access clean water.

“The dam has never been renovated. We call on President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to our aid. We are suffering because we live in a semi-arid area,” said Lokapel.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo who on Wednesday visited Morwongar area in North Pokot Sub-County urged the national government to intervene. He said the county still remains marginalised despite the county sinking boreholes and dams. “We need more than Sh500 million to Sh1 billion. The county funds are still inadequate," he said.