Livestock keepers in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya such as Isiolo are faced with perennial loss of their animals due to drought that causes scarcity of pasture and water as well as spread of diseases. The latter is especially compounded by migration of pastoralists and limited veterinary support. Putting this into better perspective, a veterinary officer in the area notes that when a large numbers of animals aggregate at watering and pasture areas, the spread of highly contagious and often deadly viral diseases such as rinderpest, goat plague, and CCP (contagious caprine pleuropneumonia) ensues, potentially leading to large-scale deaths. In addition, pastoralist usually have to wait over two weeks to get diagnosis of their animals as samples have to be transported to laboratories more than 200Km away.
However, fortunes for livestock keepers in Isiolo are changing with the launch of “The Isiolo adaptation pilot project funded by the UK Department for International Development through the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) to the tune of $1 million. The funds have been used to build a new veterinary laboratory, drill a new water well and build/rehabilitate 11 water-trapping sand dams, six water pans and a rock catchment area. Another three small veterinary laboratories are scheduled for completion in December 2015. The pilot project is aimed at availing veterinary services to pastoralists to improve milk production, reduce transmission of livestock diseases as well as building resilience in the face of a changing climate. Anecdotal evidence indicates that access to water, pasture and veterinary services has improved lives of pastoralists as time hitherto used to look for these vital commodities is now being diverted to improvement of household hygiene and attend to other chores especially those performed by women. It is such registered success that has the pilot project set to be up-scaled-up to other ASALs in Kenya.