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    Kenya drought 09

    By George Munene

    According to Ireland’s aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide, the Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought since 1981. 

    This has left over 13 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia facing severe hunger and water shortages. Of this, up to 5.5 million children are acutely malnourished and face the prospect of death if the situation is not addressed.

    Kenya

    Per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), by June 2022 3.5 million Kenyans will be facing hunger due to severe drought. This owes to a predicted fourth consecutive year of poor rains.

    The ongoing drought has caused the death of over 1.4 million animals in Kenya.

    Related News: WFP warns 13M people face severe drought in Kenya, Ethiopia & Somalia

    Farmers in arid and semi-arid counties in Kenya which make up 89 per cent of the country’s landmass and are home to 36 per cent of the population have been most affected.

    90% to 80% of water reservoirs and dams in the country’s largest counties, Turkana and Marsabit, are drying up. In Kajiado and Narok this figure is 50 per cent. This makes up most of Kenya’s major pastoral zones. Over 3 million people in these counties rely on groundwater for livestock, irrigation, and domestic purposes.

    This, coupled with external market forces, has led to a leap in food and water pushing these basic commodities out of reach for most and resulting in rising malnutrition.

    Somalia

    Over 4.3 million people are estimated to be affected by the severe drought.

    Water shortages are affecting huge parts of the country leading to large-scale displacements with an estimated 270,000 people forced to move from their homes since December alone.

    According to Save the Children, an estimated 1.4 million children, nearly half of the population of children under five are likely to be acutely malnourished.

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    The prevailing drought has further affected over half a million of the country’s livestock population.

    The situation is most dire in regions under al-Shabaab blockade making them out of reach of humanitarian workers and the government.

    Ethiopia

    In Ethiopia, the drought is affecting approximately 6.8 million people. 

    If the March to April rains are below par, this will be the fourth failed rainy season in the country and will push the crisis to unmitigable levels.

     

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    Kenyas arid livestock farmers

    By George Munene

    The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and the United States Agency for Development (USAID) have inked a two-year deal that will mobilise Sh 100 million to finance livestock farmers in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).

    “This deal will help us link arid livestock farmers to markets, provide access to credit for small-scale farmers through farmer producer organisations, and train them on how to tackle climate change which has led to a cycle of drought that is currently being acutely felt by ASAL farmers,” said Caroline Wanjeri Head-KCB Foundation

    The fund which will in time incorporate other strategic partners and grow to Sh 500 million is expected to cushion livestock farmers in Kenya's arid counties which have borne the brunt of the ongoing drought and according to the United Nations is expected to leave 3.5 million Kenyans are facing hunger by June 2022.

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    According to Ireland’s humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide, more than 1.4 million animals have died in Kenya alone because of the ongoing drought. 90-80 per cent of water pans and dams in Turkana and Marsabit -- Kenya’s major pastoral zones -- have dried up. In Kajiado and Narok counties this figure is 50 per cent. Herders are trekking during the day in 30 degrees plus heat for up to 30 kilometers in search of water.  

    Over 76,000 malnourished livestock are being bought by the Kenyan government for slaughter with the meat being disbursed to in excess of 766,000 in-need households.

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    “Through KCB we hope to extend financing to livestock farmers in arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya as well as enhance the livestock value chain in Kenya so that they are facilities through which farmers can access financing,” said Dr. Grace Mwai, Deputy Chief Kenya Investment Mechanism (KIM) USAID.

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    BeehivehouseNdege.Nyamira. KemuntoNyamiraCountyLaban

    Farmers with limited pieces of land can keep up to 20 hives within an area of about 240 square feet by constructing temporal structures a few metres from homesteads.

    Bee rearing Nyabwaroro Self-help Group Chairman Ezekiel Ndege said the simple timber structures help in restraining animals and human beings from disturbing the bees besides maximising land usage.

    One may require about a quarter an acre to raise 20 bee hives under trees and artificial sheds away from homes. But such a house will need only 0.0055 acres.

    “A timber walled house with an iron sheet rooftop measuring 12 feet by 20 feet can host up to 20 Lonngstrath hives placed about three feet apart. The house reduces unnecessary human and animal contact with the bees as well as safety of the bees from thieves,” he said.

    Keeping bees near home also reduces attacks from pests like snakes and other birds, which are prevalent in forest areas and along river banks.

    Related News: Simple temporal structures keep bees from disturbances, increase production

    Ndege, however, warns that the house must have openings to the rooftop to ensure that the bees exit vertically as they go searching for nectar.

    In ordinary set ups, cows, goats, and other animals may rub themselves against trees holding suspended hives, therefore initiating attacks.

    Bees are aggressive when they move horizontally. If they are obstructed during their movement into or out of the hives, they take offence. One sting triggers the entire stock to rise against the ‘intruder’ because of the smell of the venom.

    Nyangaresi Nyamira, a member of another group who has set up 10 hives in a timber structure, said growing crops like Napier grass outside the houses helps in redirecting any bee that may be moving horizontally to the vertical direction.

    “The timber protects objects that children may throw at the hives. Animals will only rub themselves against the walls of the house, without necessarily shaking the wooden boxes. This reduces the danger of attacks,” Nyamira said.

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    His 10 hives are housed in a timber structure that is less than 20 metres from his house at Borioba Village, Nyamira County.

    Ndege said the structures are also effective in securing the hives from harsh environmental conditions such as strong wind, the sun and the rain.

    Strong sunlight makes wax to melt while rain deteriorates the wooden boxes, therefore, reducing their life span.

    The roof is 15 metres high, to allow for free air circulation and reduce warming up during hot days.

    Nyamira is a member of Geturi Vision Women Group, which comprises 11 women and four men.

    They are supported by World Vision and Nyamira County government.

    For honey enquiries, Ndege can be reached on +254716338690

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