Kenya: Drought - Lamu Herders Ask to Access Private Ranches

22 September 2021

Pastoralist communities in Lamu County are pleading with county officials to initiate talks with ranch owners so they can be allowed to graze their livestock on private land.

Almost all pasture in Lamu has been depleted by the drought and the growing number of animals migrating daily from Tana River and Garissa counties.

Speaking to journalists in Witu, Khalifa Hirbae, the chairman of the Lamu branch of the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council and Witu Pastoralists Community spokesperson, urged Governor Fahim Twaha to start talks with private ranchers.

Lamu has large tracts of land classified as ranches, which are fenced off for conservation and private development.

Some of the most notable are Amu, Koreni and Mkunumbi, Kibokoni, Nairobi and Bar'goni.

Mr Hirbae said that instead of watching their livestock die, they should be allowed to graze in the ranches, which he said have enough vegetation to sustain them for some time.

"Our animals are dying almost every day due to lack of water and pasture. As a way of curbing further livestock deaths, we feel the county can coerce the ranch owners to allow pastoralists to graze their animals there. We are suffering," he said.

He also urged the county and national governments to offer financial support to livestock owners who are incurring losses from the drought.

"We have more than 300 livestock that have already died of hunger caused by the drought. You can imagine a single place like Nagelle losing more than 100 cows. We need support to cope with the adverse effects of drought," he said.

Competing animals

Ali Suleiman, from Chalaluma village, supported the proposal for pastoralists to graze their animals on private land.

He said Lamu is struggling with limited pasture because of competing animals coming from neighbouring counties.

He urged local and national officials to control the movements of non-local herders.

He also appealed for the distribution of animal feeds during the drought.

"We have more than 300,000 livestock, mostly from Tana River and Garissa, and this is frustrating us. Non-local herders should be stopped from entering Lamu in search of water and pasture. All the available grazing corridors here are depleted," he said.

Ali Abdi, a pastoralist in Pangani, said pasturelands in Lamu were shrinking as encroachers continue to occupy lands without considering the needs of herders.

He noted that people were moving to Lamu and establishing settlements in areas known to be grazing lands and cattle routes.

He also stressed the need to have grabbed pasturelands recovered.

"Apart from drought, our pasturelands have also grown scarce in recent times due to encroachment and land grabbing. People have invaded our grazing lands, leaving us with nothing," he said.

Hassan Abdulrahman, from Lumshi, also said pasture was hard to come by.

"We are only left with Boni forest, where we can graze our livestock freely. But we are facing the challenge of tsetse flies in that forest. That's why we're urging ranch owners to have mercy on us and allow us to graze our animals on their land until the drought ends," he said.

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