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Livestock and livelihoods in emergencies

Lessons learned during the 1999 - 2000 emergency response in Kenya

Summary of report*

"The provision of veterinary drugs, such as de-wormers, prolongs the life of an animal for a period of 1-2 months even when pasture and water conditions remain the same"

The largest ever livestock intervention programme in Kenya took place in 2000/1, targeting drought affected pastoral areas of the country. At the time of this review, thirteen agencies were involved in a total of 21 projects that had been implemented, or were in the process of being completed, throughout ten districts of Kenya. Between June 2000 and January 2001, donors provided close to $4 million for the drought-related livestock intervention programme.

The programme supported a variety of interventions including:

A review of the programme revealed a variety of experiences and successes in different districts. Overall, destocking proved the most successful intervention throughout all the districts. This was attributed to strong community interest and involvement in the operation.

The livestock feed programme was successful in Marsabit owing to previous experience in handling readily available feed concentrates. However, in Garissa, the livestock feed programme did not achieve its objectives due to lack of local knowledge necessary to successfully implement the programme. In Turkana district, the supplementary livestock feed operation never took off because the programme relied on one supplier who failed to deliver the imported animal feeds.

The transport subsidy component was effectively implemented in Mandera because of the long experience of traders in undertaking this activity during non-drought years. In addition, the experience and local knowledge of the implementing agency ensured effective and thorough planning of the intervention together with the traders. In Turkana, although the internal transport subsidy within the district was a failure because of cheating by the traders, its external programme of moving livestock out of the district was effectively implemented.

The animal health component was successfully implemented in Samburu, Marsabit and Moyale. This was largely due to the involvement of local communities, the Kenyan government veterinary department and the community-based animal health workers in both planning and implementation.

The peace and border harmonisation intervention in Turkana enabled pastoralists to utilise resources across international borders as a result of an on-going initiative that was stepped-up during the drought.

More specifically, the programme found that:

The factors that led to the failure of some of the intervention programmes included poor planning, lack of clear ideas and local knowledge, institutional bureaucracy, absence of community participation, and overstretching of human resources within the implementing agency. In some cases, the lengthy donor procedures involved in assessing proposals and releasing funding delayed the rate of programme implementation. Also, by diverting agency human resources to deal with paperwork, this negatively impacted on the quality of the work.

There were a number of operational inconsistencies at ground level. These were associated with NGOs working outside of the livestock sub-sector working group and resulted in a lack of consensus on practice among NGOs/donors/government. For example, VSF-Switzerland applied a 20% cost recovery rate for veterinary drugs in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa; COOPI charged a payment of one goat for each 25 head of cattle or 50 shoats treated/vaccinated in Moyale and Samburu, while CARE introduced a 50% cost recovery rate scheme in Garissa.

In general, the NGOs that were most successful in their activities displayed a number of key characteristics. NGOs that were involved in fewer types of interventions (one or two) proved better focused, while those whose head offices were located in operational areas displayed the benefits of making decisions at field level. Smaller NGOs had a shorter chain of command and NGOs with intimate local knowledge could, and did, make best use of local traditions and practices.

Show footnotes

*Aklilu, Y,and M.Wakesa (2001) Livestock and livelihoods in emergencies: Lessons learnt from the 1999-2001 emergency response in the pastoral sector in Kenya, OAU IBAR, Feinstein International Famine Centre, School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

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Reference this page

Livestock and livelihoods in emergencies. Field Exchange 16, August 2002. p3. www.ennonline.net/fex/16/livestock