Rendille livestock herders in northern Kenya, near Lake Turkana (photo on Flickr by Robin Hutton).
‘Mobile herding or pastoralism remains the most economically viable production system for the drylands of Kenya and should be encouraged, according to livestock experts.
Because of the current drought, there have been calls for local communities to shift to crop farming, but a recent study by the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says such plans should be used to strengthen pastoralism, but not to replace the system.
‘In a comprehensive review of the devastating 2008/2009 drought, commissioned by the European Delegation to Kenya, the ILRI researchers make suggestions on how to improve the current drought management systems.
‘The researchers say the biggest cause of the current crisis is loss of grazing land and the many barriers that hinder livestock movement.
‘“Interventions that facilitate and or maintain critical migratory movement and allow access to unused grazing areas will continue to serve as the most powerful way to mitigate livestock losses during a drought such as the current one.”
‘This, the researchers say, is the most cost-effective intervention as it requires the least funds compared to others.
‘“Interventions targeting the removal of restrictions to mobility and access should be considered as prime activities during preparedness,” they say. . . .
‘These findings are strikingly similar to those contained in a government policy document on the development of the country’s arid areas.
‘The government document also calls for policies that recognise mobile herding as a viable land use system in the arid areas. . . .’
Read the whole article in the Daily Nation: Study shows herding still best land use system in arid north, 15 Aug 2011.
Read the original ILRI News Blog post on ILRI’s recommendations: Best ways to manage recurring drought in Kenya’s drylands, 7 Aug 2011.
Read ILRI’s whole report: An assessment of the response to the 2008–2009 drought in Kenya: A report to the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kenya, 2010, by Lammert Zwaagstra, Zahra Sharif, Ayago Wambile, Jan de Leeuw, Mohamed Said, Nancy Johnson, Jemimah Njuki, Polly Ericksen and Mario Herrero.