State offers to buy livestock from drought hit West Pokot families

Pokot children try to assist one of the cows that lost strength near Wei Wei farmers' irrigation scheme in West Pokot County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The government has announced plans to purchase and slaughter livestock in West Pokot to avert deaths from prolonged drought.

The animals will be slaughtered and meat supplied to locals that may be starving as a result of the drought that has forced many to migrate to Uganda in search of pasture and water.

Kipkomo sub-County Deputy County Commissioner Teresia Muguro said the livestock off-take programme would provide relief to drought-stricken families and also lessen pastoralists' burden.

“The March to May long rains performed dismally, and it is likely that from October to December the region will experience below-average rains. The community needs to be encouraged to destock to ease pressure on pasture,” Ms Muguro said.

She said the programme had been implemented in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross Society, the State Department of Livestock and county government Steering Groups, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Devolution and Planning and the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

She said the stakeholders’ target was to purchase 1,310 cattle to be slaughtered to provide relief meat to the vulnerable households.

Ms Muguro said the county steering group may substitute cattle for sheep or goats, where one cow would be equivalent to five sheep or goats, depending on the farmer’s preference and availability.

“Each cow will be bought at a cost of Sh15,000 and a sheep or goat for Sh3,000 each,” she said.

She said one cow would be enough to feed 10 families and one sheep or a goat to feed four families, while for the institution, one cow will feed 50 students.

She said farmers will be paid by KRCS through mobile money within 24 hours of livestock purchase.

Ms Muguro urged Kenya Meat Commission, state department of livestock and the Kenya Red Cross Society to co-ordinate and monitor the exercise for its success.

“The programme has the potential to impact the lives of the farmers and pastoral community greatly if implemented well with support from all stakeholders,” she urged.

She said stakeholders needed to come up with criteria for selection of households for the programme involving vulnerable families, and institutions that have not been incorporated in other social safety net programmes.

She urged stakeholders to come up with a tentative schedule for the slaughter programme, in conjunction with the county Red Cross Society representatives. 

“Stakeholders to determine how they will dispose of hides and skin generated from the programme and also determine any health risks that can arise from the programme and mitigation measures,” she advised.

Ms Muguro told the Relief Committee to guide on the selection of livestock farmers to supply livestock for the programme and how the animals would be slaughtered, considering the culture and religious beliefs to avoid conflicts.

She told Kenya Red Cross Society to register livestock farmers identified by the relief committees to supply livestock for the programme using the Red Cross online platform.

She urged the community to participate in the verification of beneficiaries led by the Red Cross Society and help provide volunteers who will help to slaughter and distribute the relief meat.

The most affected wards in the county include Masol, Lomut, Lower Sekker, Endugh, Lower Kasei, Kiwawa, Alale, Kapchok, Kodich, Suam, Lower Riwo, Lower Chepareria and Lower Batei.

Ms Muguro said the police would provide security during the offtake programme. She said the destocking programme had worked in other counties affected by drought.