By Duncan Mboyah
Some 20 million livestock keepers in the Horn of Africa are threatened by increasingly frequent and severe droughts, an official says.
Thomas Were, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) project manager notes that livelihood failures pose a risk for both their food and nutrition security, and for the pastoral economic system.
“These frequent droughts have systematically diminished the adaptive capacity of pastoralists, to such an extent that virtually every drought is now a humanitarian disaster,” he adds.
He notes that having gone through these harsh times, pastoralists are realizing that insurance cover is a better option as it saves their livestock.
The official says that CTA has allocated US$ 2 million to support insurance cover, women and youth entrepreneurship and improvement of livestock markets.
He says that the money has been allocated to Index Based Livestock Takaful (IBCT), an insurance firm
“The main reason why droughts are particularly devastating for pastoralists is that they lack assets other than livestock that would allow them to recover from a lack of rain,” Were says.
“The project is aimed at making pastoralists more prepared and resilient in wading through drought times,’ he adds.
A shift towards the introduction of insurance of livestock against drought among pastoralists in northern Kenya is fast changing lives for the better in northern Kenya region.
Dahira Ali, 50, a beneficiary of Takaful Insurance heard over the radio that the organization was readily giving livestock farmers insurance cover against drought.
“I have since bought insurance twice, at 11,000 and got 54,000 and an additional 31,000 an amount that enabled me to purchase fodder for my livestock,” Ali says.
She says that beside purchasing fodder for her animals, she also used the money in buying medicine for the animals and also paying herdsmen who are in the field, 75 kilometers east of Isiolo town with the animals on a daily basis.
Ali, a mother of seven children says that she invested in livestock to help her pay school fees and meet other family needs after her husband, a policeman, retired.
But, she says that the 2016 drought dealt her a big blow as she lost 150 head of cattle that migrated to the Meru National Park for safety.
“My herdsmen only returned with 150 weak and emaciated animals since the other 150 died due to lack of fodder and water,” she reveals.
Ali who has since lost all her animals to the 2019 drought is however in praise of the program and recommends that the payments should be increased.
For the 55 year old Habiba Jattani, she remembers the 1984 drought as the worst ever since she was left with only one cow having lost 50.
Jattani this year got Ksh100,000 from the insurance scheme that she used to purchase fodder for her 12 milking cows that she has separated from the bigger flock.
“This is a good scheme and a savior to us livestock farmers that needs to be stepped up to cover many farmers,” she says.
Jattani however appeals to the managers to ensure that farmers get payouts in good time before the drought gets worse.
Caroline Wangechi, IBCT regional coordinator notes that the organization has so far paid out Ksh 248 million to farmers since its inception in 2013 to cover for their pasture to keep livestock alive.
“We have registered 20,000 pastoralists since 2013 in northern Kenya and we continue to educate them to move to regions with forage in times of drought,” Wangechi says.
Wangechi notes that the insurance came on board to support about 10 million livestock keepers in northern and north eastern Kenya who are threatened by frequent and more severe droughts, caused by climate change.
She says that livestock farmers have shown willingness to purchase index based insurance that is sold to them through agents and county government.
“Initially they had reservations based on access to the products, evidence of value and impact on their livelihoods and affordability of the products, but this is now history,” she adds.
This venture has been made possible with support of CTA and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as the lead research and institutional partner.