At least five percent of cattle have died as a result of the ravaging drought in Isiolo County.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) workshop in Naivasha, Isiolo Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries executive Lawrence Mwongela said three per cent of sheep and two percent of goats have died.
He said the least affected were hardy camels, whose death rate was 0.5 percent. At least 10 counties in arid and semi-arid areas have been hit hard by the drought, he added.
“Most of the counties have slipped into the alarm stage, and we are slowly slipping into the emergency stage. We cannot only compare what is happening now to the 1984 drought,” Dr Mwongela said.
Counties have taken mitigation measures, including providing water and supplementary animal feeds, and this is being stepped up.
“To address the near perennial drought, we are advising locals to find alternative sources of livelihood, which include chicken rearing, among other ventures,” he said.
Speaking at the same forum, Dr Harry Oyas, a deputy director with the Directorate of Veterinary Services, acknowledged Kenya, like other sub-Saharan countries, faces animal disease challenges.
"Transboundary diseases” like foot and mouth, lumpy skin and Rift Valley fever are the most common, he said. “We are also facing emerging diseases like Covid-19 and within the livestock sector we have to prepare for these types of diseases,” he added.
Early disease detection and prompt intervention can help control diseases before they start killing animals, he said.
The current drought had compromised the immunity of the animals, he added, and any infection was likely to cause severe damage.
“Another challenge is having animals migrating in search of pastures and water, leading to trans-border movement which has risk,” he said.
He advised counties to conduct detailed surveillance and take appropriate mitigation measures.
Efforts to control diseases, he said, are hampered by lack of funding adding that the first line of defence in controlling diseases was the livestock keeper.
FAO official Fasina Folorunso said that they provide in-service applied veterinary epidemiology training.
“We have engaged at least 25 veterinary professionals to detect, report, and respond to specific zoonotic and animal diseases including trans-boundary, endemic, emerging, and re-emerging diseases,” he said.
At least 75 veterinary professionals have been trained in the fight against animal diseases in partnership with the Kenyan government, he added.