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De-stocking in Kenya (Special Supplement 3)

Animals sharing a drink in Wajir, northern Kenya

The drought in 1999-2001 was one of the most severe in recent history in Kenya. Nearly three million pastoralists and agro-pastoralists were considered at risk. As a direct result of the drought, an estimated two million sheep and goats, over 900,000 cattle and 14,000 camels worth some six billion Kenyan shillings ($80m) were lost. This threatened the pastoralists future livelihoods, as many dropped out of their traditional production systems and settled near food distribution centres.

Food aid was one of the first responses to the crisis, but there was also an unprecedented level of livestock interventions in pastoralist areas. By September 2001, there were 21 livestock projects in the country, including destocking, livestock transport subsidies, animal health, livestock feed, restocking, and cross border harmonisation and peace initiatives to allow access to pasture in Uganda.

The de-stocking supported the purchase of nearly 40,000 sheep and goats, 200 camels, and 6000 cattle. This case study focuses on the de-stocking programmes of Oxfam in Wajir and CARE in Garrissa, and gives some of the general lessons learnt.

CARE in Garissa

The project had four objectives:

The intervention targeted nearly all the relief centres in southern Garissa. The objectives of the programme were discussed with relief committees, including their responsibilities in identifying beneficiaries and fixing the dates for purchasing stock. The committees were also responsible for giving hides and skins to women's groups.

Each beneficiary centre was allocated 25 head of cattle and 50 shoats. CARE staff witnessed the slaughtering of cattle, but the distribution of meat was left to the relief committees. Supervision was minimal because of lack of staff and vehicle for the area covered. Because of security problems associated with transporting cash, payment to beneficiaries was through vouchers. These were put into the name of a trusted community member, who could cash the voucher at the CARE office. Sometimes the vouchers were exchanged by traders, who then cashed them at the CARE office. CARE estimated that 45% of stocks were purchased from people targeted for relief, and the remainder from better off members of the community who had stock to dispose off.

A total of 850 cattle and 250 sheep and goat were destocked. In addition to providing income for those who sold stock, the income from sales of skins and hides enabled women's groups to start small businesses, and some 60 MT of fresh meat was distributed to 1943 households. The main strength of the programme was its wide coverage, despite the security problems in Garissa. However, the project had high overhead and operations costs. The intervention also lacked sufficient local knowledge, as the allocation of equal numbers of livestock to be de-stocked per centre ignored the variation in needy people.

Oxfam in Wajir

Oxfam funded a local NGO, ALDEF (Arid Lands Development Focus), to destock 950 cattle/camels and 7500 shoats. The actual number purchased was 194 camels, 95 cattle, and 9963 shoats. The target beneficiaries were mainly the peri-urban poor living close to Wajir town, high school students, hospital patients and orphans. Few rural beneficiaries were included. The project covered seven periurban areas and seven sparsely populated rural areas.

Communities were involved in the selection of beneficiaries. The intervention targeted vulnerable households, and lists of planned beneficiaries were read out in public. People unhappy with the list could appeal to the 'livestock off take committee'. A new committee was established to oversee the destocking, and to curb the power of the relief committee.

Contractors were instructed on the type of animal to buy, i.e. those that were too weak to survive the drought (generally male animals), females with udder defects, old or barren stock and animals with a history of abortion. Agreement was reached between ALDEF and the contractors on the number and types of animals each had to supply. The contractors then sold the animals to ALDEF at a fixed price and purchased animals were handed over to the committee.

Meat was distributed regularly to beneficiaries, two shoats between eight families per week for the duration of the programme (two months). Livestock were distributed to schools, hospitals, TB clinics and orphanages. Slaughtering took place twice a week in all operational sites.

One of the key strengths of the programme was its planning and community involvement. Trust was placed in the management capacity of communities, the urban poor were targeted, and strong support was given to women's groups. Weaknesses included limited geographical coverage, while profits for the contractors meant lost income for pastoralists.

General lessons learnt In all of the Kenya destocking interventions in 1999-2001, more livestock were offered for sale than the interventions could handle, indicating that pastoralists are willing to sell stock when they have the opportunity to do so.

Fresh meat is cheap, easy to produce, fast to distribute, and entails minimum wastage.

Fresh meat can be distributed at regular intervals, like relief food rations.

De-stocking supports the local economy and livelihoods. Destocking was the most successful element of the livestock intervention because of the high level of community interest. It provided markets for selected target groups, and generated income that could be used to maintain remaining stock, meet basic needs or to invest in business activity and trade.

Show footnotes

22The material for this case study has been taken from: Akilu and Wekesa (2002, December).

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Reference this page

Susanne Jaspars (). De-stocking in Kenya (Special Supplement 3). Supplement 3: From food crisis to fair trade, March 2006. p52.



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