They saved our animals, story of Halkano a pastoralist from Marsabit County

Photo Credit: Melva Consulting

The year 2015 was particularly dry and we were forced to move our Satellite herds to Huri Hills where there was pasture, leaving behind only a few animals for our families to get milk. One morning as I was walking to the pen to release the animals for grazing, I noticed that two cattle looked dull and the droppings were watery. I did not pay much attention as I thought it was normal diarrhoea. Three days later, I noticed that the two animals were not grazing when they were out in the field and were also limping.

When I got back home that evening, I reported the matter to the area chief as is custom and he called ‘Daktari’ (the veterinary doctor) to inform him about my observations. The doctor pointed out that he was assessing a similar case in Huri Hills and he would visit the next day. The doctor suggested that I separate the two cows from the rest of the herd just in case they had contracted Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) to prevent further spreading.

When daktari inspected the cows, he diagnosed them with FMD based on the symptoms they presented. This was the start of a very stressful time for me and many herders in our satellite kraal whose animals had been infected by the disease. Not only was there little pasture for our animals but our herds of cattle were sick and there was no medicine to treat them.

After two days, the doctor with a team from Concern Worldwide came to our village and vaccinated the healthy animals and treated the sick ones. The doctor taught us how to inspect the animals’ mouth, hoofs, droppings and even the fur for possible disease. He also discouraged us from using the usual routes to the pasture fields saying that it would increase the chances of our animals interacting with other sick ones.

They saved our animals!  The ones that were not sick did not die and the ones that were looking weak recovered” Halkano Qurah- Marsabit

The timely treatment saved our animals. Previously, whenever there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth the disease often wiped out all our animals. We are also happy that the rains came bringing with it plenty of pasture around our homes. 

Narrated by Halkano Qurah, 50 years - Burgabo Village, Marsabit County, a beneficiary of the ECHO funded Strengthening Resilience and Livelihoods of the people living in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands of Kenya.  

The La Nina Consortium,established in February 2011 by 5 INGOs with a collective purpose of strengthening the resilience of people living in the ASALs with longer-term support, includes a flexible funding mechanism dubbed the emergency response envelope/fund which is aimed at reducing the amount of time taken to respond to local humanitarian crises down from a month to between 48-72 hours at most. In 2015-2016, the Consortium responded to a Foot and Mouth Disease Emergency in Marsabit County using the Emergency Envelope Fund, where 152,160 pastoralists benefitted from a vaccination exercise, saving their animal salives. 

[1] VSF Germany, VSF Suisse, VSF Belgium,  ACTED and Oxfam (consortium lead)