Turkana County has moved to address the constant danger of livestock diseases along migratory routes with Ethiopia and South Sudan following the establishment of a drug store that will now coordinate animal vaccination as pastoralists cross with them in search of pasture.
A store has been established in Lokamarinyang village near the Kenyan border with Ethiopia by Vétérinaires sans Frontìeres Germany (VSFG) and the county government through funding from the European Union Trust Fund.
County Director of Veterinary Services Benson Long’or said the village, which is also near the Kenyan border with South Sudan, is a strategic livestock migratory route recognised by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the Centre for Livestock Development as it is relied on by both victims of militia attacks and pastoralists affected by drought.
Dr Long’or said the border has a high concentration of all kinds of livestock including goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys and camels and when they come in close contact during drought or as a result of insecurity, diseases reemerge.
“Being a cross-border area, we have prepositioned the drug store and equipped it with a cold chain to store necessary vaccines to control transboundary animal diseases such as anthrax, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known as goat plague, and zoonotic diseases,” Dr Long’or said.
He said the drug store is part of the devolved unit’s goal to decentralise services as a step towards eradicating diseases for the economic benefit of pastoralists and ensure food security.
Silo Agrovet owner Elizabeth Lokolio, who will manage the drug store under a public-private partnership deal, said pastoralists have been facing huge challenges accessing drugs from Lodwar or Kakuma.
Sometimes, she said, the already suffering farmers fall victim to quack veterinary officers who sell substandard drugs.
Ms Lokolio said she will be working closely with all veterinary officers to offer extension services to pastoralists for quality animal health services to safeguard livelihoods.
Gideon Lokieny, of Kibish village, said they were in March forced to migrate to Lokamarinyang – 60 kilometres away – after their only borehole collapsed due to a high concentration of livestock.
“With our large number of livestock, we are always left with no option but to trek for 60 kilometres to Lokamarinyang village. Some livestock fall sick and we lose them due to lack of drugs or delayed reports to the veterinary officers. The drug store is critical for the health of our livestock,” Mr Lokieny said, happy about the drug store.
Naamz Kaleng, from Lorumor village, said locals at Kraals, which include Morutorong, Kadu, Lokwanamor, Ngang’ololin and Ng’isowa and who are purely pastoralists, will also benefit from the decentralised services.
Pastoral Economy executive Philip Aemun said the move is aimed at ensuring that the livestock remain healthy for better income.
Mr Aemun reiterated that decentralisation of services was part of the county’s key focus on controlling transboundary diseases through collaboration of county veterinary officers, private practitioners and community disease reporters.
He said that the completion of the facility will help in providing quality veterinary services that will be handled by professionals in the private sector with support from county veterinary officers.
“We are also training more community disease reporters to improve transboundary diseases surveillance,” Mr Aemun said.
Pastoral Economy Chief Officer Abdullahi Yusuf said the drug store will help in providing quality veterinary services to pastoralists in the areas and added that the department was establishing similar stores in other sub-counties.