Kenya’s Red Cross partners with UN to help drought-hit pastoralists

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Members of the Mombasa Kenya Red Cross Society demonstrate life saving skills at the public beach in Mombasa on April 3, 2015. Despite the low turn up in the number of international tourists visiting Kenya due to terrorists related incidents, local tourists sill trip to the coastal area to celebrate the Easter weekend. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)
Members of the Mombasa Kenya Red Cross Society demonstrate life saving skills at the public beach in Mombasa on April 3, 2015. Despite the low turn up in the number of international tourists visiting Kenya due to terrorists related incidents, local tourists sill trip to the coastal area to celebrate the Easter weekend. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) on Friday signed a joint agreement to help support agro pastoralists in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) in northern Kenya.

The 712,000 U.S. dollar agreement that entail emergency livestock offtake, animal feed distribution and provision of animal health services is expected to last up to October.

“We are responding to help avoid the losses that have been incurred since Kenya declared the drought a national disaster,” FAO Kenya’s Representative Gabriel Rugalema told journalists in Nairobi.

He said that the households affected by drought are now expected to recover and rebuild their herds faster.

Rugalema said some parts of the country had so far only experienced suppressed to no rainfall while where rains had finally come, certain households experienced huge losses of herds due to the shock as well as new grass which lacks the necessary roughage that is required by animals.

He applauded the Kenya Red Cross for responding resolutely and early even before the drought was officially declared.

Even as parts of Kenya have been receiving rainfall in the past two months, the drought is not yet over and families in transition still require support.

Parts of Kenya have received varying amounts of rainfall during the period, but as predicted by the Meteorological Department, some pockets of the country have not received a single drop.

Other affected areas are grappling with the transition from a long drought that started as early as August 2016, and have now experienced flash floods or heavy rains devastating their livestock.

The Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Gullet called for concerted efforts towards mitigating and reversing the damage experienced so far.

He called for preparedness saying that the approximate five year drought followed by flooding cycle should not catch the country by surprise.

“Like in 2011, we may then transition into El Nino, which will mean moving from one emergency situation to another with floods expected in some parts of the country when the heavy rains finally fall,” Gullet said.

He revealed that KRCS has moved towards cash transfers to assist affected families citing the method as more transparent, faster and more dignified, giving households a choice to buy as they preferred.

FAO’s partnership will give the organization’s animal destocking efforts a boost with the benefits going directly to the affected communities through cash and meat.

The organization has so far destocked close to 10,000 livestock, an initiative, which is meant to reduce pressure on the already fragile, drought affected ecosystem and put money in the pockets of the livestock owners who give up their animals, while boosting their nutrition as the meat is given back to the community.

The agreement that falls under the “Emergency livelihood response to support drought-affected households will support agro pastoralists in Samburu, Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Tana River and Turkana Counties. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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