Kenya will spend $140 million to protect herders against the vagaries of the weather. The scheme is part of a World Bank project that targets livestock farmers in the African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti.
The De-risking, Inclusion and Value Enhancement of Pastoral Economies (DRIVE) project targets 1.6 million herders in the four countries, according to the Kenyan ministry of Agriculture.
Acute and persistent drought often leaves pastoralists in the Horn of Africa countries in dire straits.
Thousands of animals died in Kenya last year, not only from thirst, but more importantly from lack of pasture and green shrubs.
“The drought … has resulted to massive loss of wildlife population through death and probably migration into other areas,” said a 2022 report by the Kenya Wildlife Service. It said 205 dead elephants had been counted, along with 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 51 buffalos, 49 Grevy’s zebras and 12 giraffes within the first nine months of 2022.
“Prolonged droughts cause more than 15 percent livestock mortality in Kenya. The ongoing drought has been the worst. The country has lost livestock worth more than Ksh 130 billion (Rs 7,907, crore) due to drought in the last two years. The worst affected are the pastoralist communities where drought has wiped off more than 2.6 million livestock,” the Ministry said in a statement.
“Heat stress has already reduced milk yields and red meat production in Kenya and East Africa by more than 30 percent since 2017”, studies from key national and regional organizations such as Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization and ILKRI indicated.
It said the loss of livestock means millions of dollars in losses to farmers, and an acute reduction in annual economic production due the dependence of locals on livestock farming.
The World-Bank sponsored scheme is the largest of its kind in Africa and is expected to significantly reduce the impacts of climate change on livestock farming and on the economy.
“The scheme is implemented by the State Department for Livestock Development in partnership with the private sector ZEP-RE Reinsurance and Kenya Development Corporation. The project is expected to benefit over 125,000 pastoral households or about 800,000 people,” read a press statement from the agriculture ministry.
Various stakeholders, including farmers and experts from key organizations say the scheme is a significant step towards building resilience among smallholder farmers most affected by climate change-related disasters.
The new DRIVE scheme replaces a previous livestock insurance scheme
called Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP), which ran from