Abdul Haro


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  • Living with drought in Mandera

    Mandera, Kenya, Mandera
    July 26th, 2012

    It has been 12 months since Northern Kenya, and Mandera County in particular, saw one of the worst droughts in 60 years.

    Thanks to your support, Practical Action was able to help thousands of poor people cope with the drought. But we need your help more than ever to ensure that the region doesn’t slip back into crisis when the next drought occurs.


    Mandera County has an area of over 25,000 square kilometres of dry land and a population of 1,025,000 people. Most of these people are pastoralists who depend on their livestock to survive.

    As we were already working in this area we expanded our services to help those most at risk.

    Impact of the 2011 drought

    Due to the failure of the rains from October to December 2010, water sources dried up and pastures diminished. Many livestock died as a result and their owners were unable to sustain their livelihoods and feed their families.

    Inadequate and inappropriate economic, social and political preparedness strategies and ineffective early warning systems left pastoralists more vulnerable to the effects of drought. Interventions only begin when the drought impacts have reached emergency levels and the biggest casualty is usually the livestock and their poor owners.

    What Practical Action did and how we did it

    With the onset of the drought, Practical Action, with support from The Brooke and The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) launched an emergency programme of work to minimize the losses of pastoralist livestock and donkeys.

    We set up a feeding and vaccination programme for sheep and goats.

    Donkey health service drives were provided to reduce worm infestations and treat opportunistic diseases that would have weakened donkeys or led them to early deaths.

    We trained donkey owners and handlers to take care of their working animals to ensure no donkey died from thirst and overworking and distributed hay and feed to over 5,000 donkeys.

    9,000 litres of diesel was provided to seven boreholes to support extension work on animal welfare at watering points. Crucially, water was also provided for villages located far away from water points. Four water troughs were rehabilitated, cracks repaired and piping done to connect it to a permanent water source.

    Together with SPANA, we launched a media campaign to highlight the plight of livestock and their poor owners at the time when governments, aid agencies and international communities were concentrating their efforts on refugees. You can see the coverage here. Following this coverage, the UK government pledged an additional £4 million to support livestock in the region.

    Without our urgent intervention and the intervention by others, the drought ravaging the region at that time could have got a lot worse.

    What is the situation now?

    Mandera County received some good short rains between October and December 2011. However, the long rains expected between March and May this year were below the normal level. A total of 54.4 mm of rainfall was recorded at Mandera meteorological station, compared to the normal rains of 100 to 150 mm. The pasture condition is normal but dry.

    The condition of livestock is fair to good. However, this is expected to deteriorate as pastures dry up and water sources diminish over the summer, which will increase stress on the animals before the onset of the short rains in October to November 2012.

    There is also low calving among cattle and camel due to the low conception rate during the last year’s drought. As a result, there is not much milk from camels and cattle.

    What do we need to do as we look ahead?

    Droughts are cyclical – they will return to the region. During every drought nearly 80% of Mandera’s population slide into an emergency situation –  losing livestock which lead to hunger, malnutrition and even death. That is why we need your help to support our work, so we can:

    •  Provide fuel subsidy for motorized water pumps running boreholes so these pumps can run 24/7 while poor pastoralists are unable to contribute to its running costs as a result of their animals losing value or dying. Support should also come in form of fast moving spare parts and expertise for water pump repairs.
    •  Introduce water/pasture saving, treatment and conservation technologies
    •  Maintain livestock food aid and animal health services to cushion the poor livestock owners from shocks that would diminish their livestock during drought.
    •  Initiate long term recovery activities such as de-silting and repairing strategic water sources, vaccinating and de-worming livestock to make them better able to stand adverse conditions, and supporting fodder producers with fuel subsidy and irrigation technologies.
    •  Advise pastoral communities to use reserve grazing land if available or to sell their livestock well before the water and pasture situation becomes critical.
    •  Rehabilitate degraded rangeland to eventually improve pasture availability.
    •  Facilitate animal health services and emergency livestock feed services along the livestock routes running between common border areas with Ethiopia and Somalia. This will help reduce economically important trans-boundary livestock diseases during the period of huge livestock influx between porous borders.
    •  Lobby for the suspension of taxes and service fees levied on livestock sellers during the emergency period to help in emergency off-take.

    Please help us to continue to support these vulnerable people in Kenya.

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  • Aid for drought-hit donkeys

    Mandera, Kenya, Mandera
    July 1st, 2011

    The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis, with parts of Kenya experiencing pre-famine conditions.

    Although the Kenyan government has declared a national disaster, their interventions do not detect the pain and suffering or address the welfare needs of donkeys affected by drought. Donkeys are the main working animals in the region and for the first time in the history of the region these typically hardy animals are dying, as water sources dry up and pastures rapidly diminish.

    We’ve launched an emergency programme, funded by international animal welfare charity the Brooke, to help working donkeys at risk of dehydration, starvation and disease. I recently did an interview with the BBC World Service on this. At least 5,000 donkeys will receive supplementary feeding, improved access to veterinary treatments, including dewormers, and vitamin supplements aimed at reducing opportunistic diseases and infections associated with drought. Crucially, a fuel subsidy will also be agreed with five water users associations who operate motorised systems at water boreholes. This will ensure donkeys have greater access to water in the area and will work towards the Brooke’s long-term aim to raise the status of donkeys.  

    Practical Action has been partnering with the Brooke to improve the lives of working animals since 2006. The Brooke funds the LIDOW (Livelihoods and Donkey Welfare Project) run by Practical Action. Just like in its other projects, Practical Action’s LIDOW activities are people focused, locally relevant and environmentally sensitive, offering tangible ways out of poverty.

    The number of donkeys in Kenya is believed to be 1,832,519 according to the Kenya National Population Census results for 2009. Mandera County has a population of 191,664 donkeys. This makes 10% of all the donkeys in the country.

    Donkeys in Mandera are mainly used for transport, either pulling carts or as pack animals. Pack donkeys are especially used by pastoralists while urban dwellers use carts. As the human population rises and many people join the urban and peri-urban poor, there is an increase in the number of donkeys used in the region. The main welfare issues affecting donkeys in the area include weak body condition, back wounds, foot and leg problems, overloading, over-usage, and lack of proper care (feeding/watering/health care).

    LIDOW project is not aimed just at covering as many working animals as possible but to make a real impact on the welfare of the animals that are targeted. The project is aimed at changing management practices and care for donkeys by wider influencing of general public and decision makers. Solutions to the many donkey welfare problems in the project areas include more attention to awareness creation and to the use of bottom-up participatory welfare extension methods involving donkey communities at all stages of the extension process.

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