Very few herds have lactating cows, and those that do, don’t sell their milk; instead, it is used for household purposes. Older calves are separated from their mothers as the drought bites on. The current livestock body condition ranges from 1-4 on a scale of 1-9, with 9 being the best. A mature animal cost around Ksh. 30,000, while sheep and goats’ cost Ksh. 4,000.
Many children have not attended school because their parents rely on rainfall to cultivate subsistence crops. Those in school are the children of parents who rely on irrigation and formal employment. Herders in Eselengei estimate that they have lost 70% of their livestock.
Livestock are starving, prompting herders to look for areas where it has recently rained, such as the Chyulu Hills, Ukambani and Kibwezi. The cost of purchasing livestock feed and grass has been a financial burden for many people. Herders in Kimana who once had over 200 cows now have less than 80.
The dairy production from cattle has also been severely impacted, with a lack of pastures causing a decline in the livestock's body condition. The market prices for livestock have decreased due to their condition and falling demand. The herders are struggling to pay for their children's education. Some parents have been forced to withdraw their children from school due to a lack of fees.
The migration of wild animals, particularly elephants, to these areas has resulted in a conflict over limited resources between the animals, livestock, and humans. Crops in the Isinet, Kimana, and Kalesirua areas have been raided. Market prices for bulls range from Ksh. 30,000 to 50,000, and young calves and other cattle range from Ksh. 20,000 to 35,000, as a result of the influx of livestock. If no rain falls, prices are expected to fall further in February and worsen by March.
Since vegetation has disappeared and almost all grasslands now remain bare grounds, herders are buying crushed cones locally known as pumba, in addition to hay, and cone plants from farms under irrigation to feed our livestock. With all these efforts livestock are still dying. A double loss!
Following the light rain showers, herders have taken their livestock to the Chyulu hills, Oltepesi, Enkii, Oloile, Lemong'o, Olng'arua Loosinet, and Ngoirienito. The livestock body condition scores remain below average. Their prices continue to drop as children get back to school. The drought has also led to malnutrition in children as milk yields dry up.