Horror as drought skeletons become the norm in Kajiado

animals carcasses kiled drought kajiado kenya

Carcasses of animals killed by drought in Mashuru sub-county, Kajiado. 

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Amos Kitili, 65, of Mashuru sub-county sits pensively in his compound. A few metres away, dozens of animal carcasses strewn across a dry field are hard to miss.

Even harder to ignore is the foul smell of death that hangs heavily in the air, enveloping all the senses of anyone within a few feet of the compound. Clearly distraught, Mr Kitili is deep in thought, counting his losses.

He is among herders in the region readjusting to the stark reality of losing their livestock to a harsh and unforgiving drought.

The sexagenarian and father of 18 told the Nation that all living things that occupied his cowshed have been wiped out by the drought in the last three months.

Amos Kitili counts his loses in Mashuru sub-county.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

"I have lost more than 50 cows. It’s all I had. On a normal day, I would have fetched more than Sh2 million in the local market. The only things now left are carcasses."

He added: "My children have been sent home from school because I haven’t paid their fees. I cannot afford it. I have hit rock bottom. I can’t breathe."

The carcasses attract dozens of scavengers, who are spoiled for choice in this vast sea of death.

Wild animals have not been spared either: the carcasses of zebras, ostriches and other vulnerable wild animals are strewn in the open fields, especially in areas bordering Amboseli National Park. Locals regularly encounter marauding jumbos as they search for pasture for their surviving animals.

Most parts of Kajiado have not received ample rainfall for the last two years. Fields bare, rivers dry and pasture long gone. Kajiado Central, East, South and West sub-counties bear the brunt of the drought.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

Most herders cannot afford hay retailing for between Sh300 and Sh400 per bale. But goats and sheep are doing relatively better in the drought, giving herders a ray of hope.

In most homesteads, the few remaining weak animals must be helped to get to their feet in the morning. Locally, a skinny animal fetched between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000, to the chagrin of herders.

"This is a creeping disaster for herders and the worst in more than a decade. The government should help herders restock as part of post-drought measures," said farmer Emily Mayian.

Women and children have been hit hardest by the simmering drought. Most men have relocated to neighbouring counties with their animals in search of pasture.

Here, getting a meal per day for most families is a miracle. They want the county and the national government to help avert human deaths. Their hope is pegged on the short rains now falling in most parts of Kenya but which have avoided most parts of Kajiado.

Amid the gloom, locals have received relief food from NGOs, well-wishers and the county government. The devolved unit recently distributed food to 20,000 families identified as the affected, as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) helped farmers with livestock feed.

On Wednesday Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya (FPFK) clerics donated foodstuffs to the most affected families in Mashuru sub-county

The clerics urged the county government to provide more help to rural residents affected by the drought.

"The national government needs to declare drought a national disaster. Most residents, especially in [arid and semi-arid] areas, are in dire need of food,” said Bishop John Kilole of the Emali region FPFK.

“The Kajiado County government should lay more emphasis on rural residents than town dwellers."


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