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WSPA brings emergency relief to drought-hit Kenyan region

Nov 2, 2011

WSPA brings emergency relief to drought-hit Kenyan region

WSPA has initiated an emergency relief mission to Mwingi District in central Kenya to save the many donkeys, goats, camels, cattle and sheep suffering the effects of the drought, thus protecting the livelihood of the local population.

After conducting a Disaster Assessment Needs Analysis (DANA) in the region last month that outlined the need to provide emergency nutrition and veterinary care to Mwingi’s livestock, WSPA returned to Kenya to assist more than 20,000 animals.   

The ambitious operation, requiring five teams to concentrate efforts at ever-shrinking watering holes spread over a vast area, was carefully planned and funded by WSPA. The teams largely consisted of Kenyans, many of whom are veterinary students from the University of Nairobi forming Veterinary Emergency Response Units (VERU) to distribute and administer aid. Government officials and vets and staff from the Donkey Sanctuary and the Africa Network for Animal Welfare also made up the teams which spent four days attending to thousands of donkeys, goats, camels, cattle and sheep. The decision was made to treat the animals at watering holes as, in this vast region, they are the only places where animals and their owners congregate, enabling assistance to be given in a coordinated and efficient manner.

Animals facing starvation

Many of the local herders, who depend entirely on their livestock for their livelihoods, walk three or even four days on a regular basis with their animals to reach water to provide temporary respite from the drought. However, the situation was becoming more desperate with animals having little or no food, becoming ill or weakened due to starvation, or even dying. In the five areas the teams targeted, between 30-40% of the animals were affected by starvation, meaning that their owners could face the same fate, as they are forced to sell their animals at a fraction of their value in order to survive.

"I used to have cows and sheep but these have all died," livestock owner, Dakane told us. "All of my older camels have died too… also a lot of people are trying to sell their camels at the moment because there is nothing for them to eat in the whole of Kenya."

"I have a large family and many children who all rely on me for food," Dakane continues. "In my culture it is not a good thing to sell one’s animals - these animals represent my wealth. But now I am being forced to sell them to buy food."

Dakane’s story is repeated across Mwingi, with camels, the hardiest animals in drought conditions, being sold for one-third of their value in order for their owners to sustain themselves.

Treatment for all livestock

Over the four day operation at five different watering holes, all of the animals seen were de-wormed and received multivitamins and mineral blocks to boost their immune systems, in addition to essential fodder. Medical care was also given to sick or injured animals. As the emergency relief effort continues, in the coming days, animals will be fed at the watering points with hay, purchased by WSPA, as well as receiving further medical treatments. 
The help could not have arrived at a better time for Dakane, who said that, "It is like God has answered our prayers because they are helping us to keep our animals healthy for longer." 

Another beneficiary, camel herder Omar Ali, agreed: "This is the first time my animals have received this type of treatment and I am pleased because it means they may now be able to survive this drought a bit longer because they are healthier." Since the initial aid was delivered, rain has started to fall in Mwingi District and farmers report that their animals are in a better condition than before.

For further updates on our Disaster Management work, please see our Animals in Disasters blog.

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