Working to Save Pastoralists’ Livelihood in Mandera

August 23rd, 2011

Mandera residents are among the hardest hit by the current drought. However, their plight has not been highlighted as much compared to other areas like Turkana. As a result, many pastoralist families continue to suffer.

Able bodied men and women, who in the recent months were proud owners of healthy animals, have lost a majority if not all their animals due to the drought. The Ministry of Livestock estimates the losses to between 45-60%. The loss of their animals – the main source of their livelihoods and income – has reduced many to internally displaced persons living in makeshift camps where relief supplies are normally distributed by the government or humanitarian agencies.

During our recent trip to the area I could not help but notice the loss of pride and the level of devastation in the eyes of these pastoralists. Their experiences are moving. It is overwhelming.  I can only imagine the explanations the men and the women give to their children when they are no longer able to provide food to them.

“What needs to be done to secure the pastoralists’ sources of livelihood?,” asked Tom Kimani, a Kenyan journalist.

As an organization we believe that although time is extremely short and the needs are great, efforts by all stakeholders to save the lives of many pastoralist and their generations should not stop at providing emergency aid. Relief is important but not enough. We must move beyond it to help these impoverished regions escape from extreme poverty and become more resilient to the changes in weather associated with climate change. The use of appropriate technology to address the challenge cannot be overemphasized.

Despite the above state of affairs, all is not lost. Our mission came across healthy herds of animals at watering points in Garba Xuoley, Borehole eleven and in Mandera township thanks to one of the current emergency interventions by Practical Action in the area. The initiative, built on observations that pastoralists share some of the limited relief food supplies with their animals to save their capital asset, has so far given a number of the pastoralists a reason to smile. The organization with support from the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) and The BROOKE is not only providing the animals with supplementary feeds and concentrates but also providing them with essential animal health services to secure a nucleus of animals capable of surviving the overwhelming effects of the drought.

A pastoralist boy holds one of their remaining sheep in Elwak

“The animals being fed today are descendants of those animals that were secured during the 2005/06 drought period. We are not only grateful but optimistic that the animal feed and the health services will help see a number of our animals to the next rainy season,” said Fatima Mohamed whose herd has been reduced from 120 to 40.

And although the noble initiatives are making a difference in the lives of the animals of poor pastoralists in the area it does not reach all the areas. The rations are not enough. Generosity and speed are of the essence. With your support more can be done to cushion pastoralists’ sources of livelihood.

3 responses to “Working to Save Pastoralists’ Livelihood in Mandera”


    I do appreciate the efforts to support the pastoralists communities in Northern Kenya.Having spent four years working in that region, I am more convinced that interventions beyond emergency relief is what is required.It seems that dependency and paternalism is predominant in the region and this needs to be addessed.

  2. George Says:

    Thanks Violet for your kind words. We appreciate your recognition and support for the need to address the root causes rather than the symptoms of the challenges facing the region.

  3. Emmanuel Ndulet Says:

    Thank,s Addressing root cause of the problem is resonable but both short and long term intervention are significant to restore their lives and build sustainable livelihood dependancy can be avoided through changing their mind set.

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