Some 200 heads of cattle have been slaughtered in a destocking effort launched on Tuesday targeting villages worst hit by drought in Lamu County.
The Sh50 million exercise is being conducted by the national government in conjunction with the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the Ministry of Agriculture and the Lamu County government.
Funded by the European Union (EU), the exercise is meant to reduce pressure on pasture land and water and save herders from losses due to the drought.
Addressing the public at Moa Village, Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said they were targeting at least 1,000 heads of livestock to be purchased, slaughtered and the meat distributed to residents facing hunger and starvation.
Mr Kanyiri said apart from the destocking, the government was also buying livestock to improve their health.
More than 5,000 heads of livestock are to be bought and taken to the Galana-Kulalu Ranch for health improvement.
In the first phase, 400 heads of livestock from the villages affected by drought in Lamu have been taken to Galana-Kulalu.
Some 2,000 heads of livestock are also being purchased in the second phase at Bar’goni village and its environs.
The third phase will target at least 3,000 heads of livestock.
The exercise follows interventions by experts from the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).
“We are at Moa village today to launch the destocking-slaughter exercise. We are targeting purchasing at least 1,000 heads of livestock to be slaughtered in Lamu and meat distributed as relief food to locals affected by drought. We have already bought 50 cows which have been slaughtered and meat distributed to the locals,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He said, “This programme is intended to reduce overstocking due to the high number of livestock being brought to this county from Tana River and Garissa counties especially during this drought season where there is no water and pasture.”
“We are also doing this to help reduce the losses encountered by our herders who have been losing their animals due to starvation. The programme is also meant to add nutritional value to our locals since meat is distributed to them free of charge to assist them deal with hunger.”
Each of the cattle costs between Sh13,500 and Sh16,000.
Lamu County NDMA coordinator Mohamed Dahir said villages targeted for both destocking-slaughter and commercial off-take programs include Moa, Dide Waride, Poromoko, Koreni, Lake Amu, Pangani, Mkunumbi and Bar’goni, all in Lamu West Sub-County.
In Lamu East, all villages hard-hit by drought in Pate Island and Kizingitini are targeted.
Mr Kanyiri said the government will ensure at least 50 cows are bought from herders in each of the villages affected by the calamity.
Burden of animal loss
He said they sensitising livestock farmers from all affected villages to take the matter positively as they buy the animals so as to reduce the burden of losing animals due to drought.
“We are also providing animal feeds and conducting other livestock health interventions. We are committed to ensuring that the pastoral communities in villages hardest hit by drought in Lamu County don’t get the worst effects and conditions of the drought,” said Mr Dahir.
More than 70,000 residents and 300,000 livestock are facing starvation in Lamu.
Lamu County is among the 23 counties in arid and semi-arid lands that are worst affected by drought.