The effects of the ravaging drought being experienced in the Horn of Africa can be felt throughout the region. The drought has affected the pastures that pastoralists and cattle farmers depend on and as a result, their cattle are dying because of a lack of food and water.
Farmers are taking the malnourished cattle to the market in a desperate attempt to fetch any amount they can, as can be seen in the footage filmed in Kajiado County on Saturday.
In the market, buyers come from far to buy cows but at the moment the situation is worsening. Buyers are buying the cattle just for them to die moments later.
James Mwangi has been buying cattle at the market for a decade and then selling to butchers. He claims that the cattle he is buying are dying even before he reaches the butchers. He bought 10 cows and they have passed away leaving him with only two.
He argues, “I come from far to buy cows here but this time round the drought has become too much. Too many cows are dying. I personally had bought 10 cows but already 8 have died. I have been left with two. And it is all because of the drought. The grass being sold here is very expensive. We do not even have milk, we do not drink tea in the morning anymore.”
When the cattle reach the market they are still not safe. They have to be kept away from the scorching sun. Because the animals are very weak they cannot stand on their own. This means that the farmers have to lift the animals up and push them to the shade.
Moses Milia, a cattle farmer, had over 70 cows before the drought but now his herd has been reduced to two.
He argues, “Before the drought, I had 70 cows and a bull would go for Ksh, 120,000 (1200 US Dollars/ Euros) while a female one would go for Ksh, 50,000 (500 US Dollars/ Euros). Right now I have been left with two cows. All of them have died because of this drought. We do not have any capability to feed the cows.”
Right now a full cow goes for around Ksh, 1,000 (100 US Dollars/Euros) or less depending on the condition of the cow while a goat goes for Ksh, 100 or 200 (10 or 20 US Dollars/Euros).