Focus is on training farmers to protect animals from diseases
3 months ago, 20 Aug 05:58
The floods in April and May this year wreaked havoc in many parts of the country, and Makueni County, which lies in the lower eastern part of Kenya, was one of the worst affected.
This left the locals, mainly smallholder farmers who rely on their farms and livestock for income, completely helpless. Their drought-resistant crops like cow peas, Katumani dryland maize, pigeon peas, beans, and green grams were all destroyed by the floodwaters, especially in the low lying areas of Nyunzu, which is near Kambi Mawe and Thwake rivers.
Mr Musembi Muvevi of Kithoni village, for instance, lost all his animals. Two of his goats that were stuck in the mud fell sick three days after he rescued them.
“It had rained heavily during the day. That afternoon, I went to untie the goats from the grazing field, only to find that two were missing, although their tethers were still tied to the trees. I thought they might have just run away,” says Mr Muvevi.
The downpour that evening made it impossible to look for the animals, so he had to wait until the next day. But they were nowhere in sight.
“With the help of a few young men I combed the entire village until downstream to Nyunzu, which is close to Kambi Mawe River and Thwake River. We found three goats stuck thigh-deep in the mud. Two were mine while one belonged to a neighbour,” he narrated. But as they were rescuing the goats, one fractured its left hind leg.
“I carried it home but after three days it became weaker. A week later, it died and I slaughtered it; the pancreas had enlarged. I fed the meat to the dogs and sold the hide,” Muvevi said.
He was among the hundreds of villagers who had brought their cows, donkeys, goats and sheep to the Kikumini cattle crush in mid-June at the launch of a post-floods animal disaster response initiative in the county.
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana regretted that many farmers had lost their animals to the floods, while some animals had succumbed to post-flood diseases.
“A lot of livelihoods were compromised. Immediately after the floods, we felt there was a need to protect the animals against diseases. Some had become very weak,” said Mr Kibwana as he launched the initiative at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) grounds in Kibiko.
The weeklong exercise brought together staff from the University of Nairobi’s veterinary department, World Animal Protection, a global animal rights body, and the county government, who vaccinated livestock for post-flood disease exposure.
Two days earlier, Prof Henry Mutembei, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s Veterinary Medicine Department, had taken the university’s veterinary emergency response unit (VERU) team and county officials through a two-day training in preparation for vaccinating animals in the sub-counties.
Mr Muvevi’s cows and donkey had caught lumpy skin disease, an infectious condition that leaves wounds on the skin, and which is common during the rainy season.
The incidence of animal diseases rose considerably, Prof Kibwana said.
Indeed, Mr Peter Mwangangi, a local veterinary officer, noted ...
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