SNV, with the International Livestock Research Institute and the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council are implementing a three-year project providing pastoral communities with coping strategies to respond to drought, securing long-term food security through boosting agricultural productivity, and improving livelihoods in arid and semi-arid lands.
The Kenyan rangelands have long dry spells and short rainy seasons. Recently, the weather has become more unpredictable—leading to less rain and higher temperatures. Pastoralist communities face extreme weather, mainly droughts, resulting in declining pasture productivity and water availability. This puts stress on pastoralist economies, leading to livestock losses and inter-ethnic conflicts. Trading their animals instead of keeping large flocks help herders survive when drought and hunger strike.
With funding from the European Union, the Enhanced Community Resilience to Drought through Innovative Market Based Systems project is giving pastoralists ways to improve their income by promoting fodder and camel milk production, creating strong markets by linking private business with government organisations, and teaching pastoralists how sell their produce in the market during drought.
Many pastoralists still link animals to high status and wealth and, even when the pasture dries up and there is no water, they are often reluctant to sell them. This means animals often die and people starve. "Asking themselves 'Should I really keep 1,000 cattle, when I can only feed 100?' is very important." observes Caroline te Pas, SNV advisor. “Building sustainable local markets and encouraging pastoralists to sell what they cannot hold helps. Only if we can make them understand their holding capacity and to act accordingly, will it ease them out of the cycles of drought and food insecurity.” She says.
SNV strengthen livestock markets by implementing the Co-Management Model. This is a public-private partnership between local governments and the Livestock Market Association in Kenya consisting of representatives from the local communities, and ensures an equitable sharing of market revenues, entitlements and responsibilities. By giving local communities more responsibilities, we have ensured a significant improvement in the market functioning, infrastructure, security and information provision, and have attracted more buyers, service providers and other businesses. The model has been implemented in 22 markets, where we have recorded sales of 20,000 livestock, and generated EUR 1.7 million weekly.
These markets provide a place for pastoralists to sell their livestock before a drought, leaving them with a smaller herd that can easier endure the drought, as well as with an income serving as a financial buffer. Also they have better hygiene conditions, and are safer for women traders to directly buy and sell their livestock and make money to support their families during a drought.
SNV is also enabling better responses to drought and improving livelihoods through diversification activities such as increased fodder production. The programme supports fodder enterprises to ensure the provision of hay during drought. 40 groups have received training on land preparation, farming practices, harvesting, hay making, storage and seed production and bulking. Improved fodder availability and accessibility benefits the productivity and health of animals and enhances milk production and consequently household food security during dry periods.
We have also given these communities a way to further increase their incomes by developing a women-led camel milk cooperative. Camels are drought-tolerant animals that produce milk longer throughout dry spells. We provide camel milk producers training on milking techniques, milk handling and hygiene, as well as support in obtaining milking buckets and aluminium cans for clean transport of the milk. Together with a bulking and cooling centre, this has significantly reduced milk spoilage and losses.
SNV has also built the cooperative’s capacity on management and business skills, and has linked them to camel milk processors. The cooperative now has over 100 members, which delivers over 3000 litres of camel milk to the capital Nairobi daily.
From these interventions, we are developing a knowledge base so strategies for upscaling can be replicated in other markets. This will help inform policymaking and contribute to a strong approach to achieving climate change adaptation through market-based systems. In addition, projects like this are also helping to better understand how SNV can do better development work in the context of a changed global climate.
Improve pastoral livelihoods through sustainable market systems
Increase pastoral resilience and adaptation to the effects of climate change
Commercialize livestock, fodder and camel milk production within specific arid counties