Protecting animals – safeguarding futures
There are an estimated 100 million livestock – including 18 million cattle – in Kenya, and farming is the backbone of the country’s economy. Agriculture, including the livestock sector, contributes to around 24% of Kenya’s GDP and 60% of export earnings. Two-thirds of Kenyans depend on the crops they grow and the animals they keep for their livelihoods and survival.
Farms are a mix of large and small scale. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry are kept. Rabbits, fish and bees may be farmed too. Camels are used for food and transport, donkeys are also used for transport and haulage. 90% of beef cattle in Kenya are kept by subsistence farmers and pastoralists and represent a status symbol in many communities. Dairy farming is practised by small-scale holders, who account for 80% of the milk produced in Kenya.
Kenya’s natural disasters – the impact
Much of Kenya is arid or semi-arid and it is currently afflicted by the severe drought every three years followed by flooding on the fourth year. The impact of climate change in East Africa has meant that droughts and floods are more intense creating what is called extensive disasters – where the affected community does not recover from the previous disaster before being hit by the next. This led to erosion of livelihoods and deepening of poverty. The increased frequency of drought and competition over scarce water resources, coupled with the outbreak of animal disease, means pastoralist families face constant battle to survive. They have been forced to leave their lands to find grazing and water. Drought and floods over the past three decades has led to animals dying slowly, and those remaining have reduced productivity and animal welfare conditions.
Wildlife is affected too. Around waterholes, both farm and wild animals congregate and compete for water. Increased competition over grazing and watering resources between wildlife and livestock has led to a steep spike in human – wildlife conflict over the last sox years. The situation is challenging the country’s food security – over two million people receive food aid annually.
Planning to save animal lives
Kenya is an influential country in Africa. The Kenyan Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) represents the other 54 member states on issues regarding animal welfare at African Union – intergovernmental bureau on animal resources. His role is to bring the Sendai Framework to life for animals and so Kenya is an important champion country in driving the Sendai Framework forward.
Animal emergencies are handled under the department of veterinary services’ mandate with support from national institutions like the national drought management authority and the ministry of interior.
Animal numbers are recorded once disaster hits in an area; such measurements are useful in helping to fulfil the measurement requirement of the Sendai Framework. There is a georeferenced, species-specific animal census that was done in 2009 making it easy to calculate animals at risk when disaster hits.
Kenya has developed policies and established institutions to end animal drought emergencies. A fund was created to support drought emergencies 2013-2017 that covers 13 arid and semi-arid counties in Kenya. The initiative has had mixed success. In June 2018, the Government finally enacted the long awaited disaster management policy and disaster fund. This is a major step to establishing an authority dedicated to managing multi-sectoral disasters.
Other highly significant disaster risk reduction efforts
We've worked in Kenya since 2013 to support the inclusion of animals in disaster response and risk reduction initiatives. We are working with the department of veterinary services to implement our Animals in Disasters (AiD) initiative in the country.
We expect the AiD will help the Kenyan government save the lives of over 50 million animals and protect the livelihoods of millions of citizens. Kenya, through its successes, will be a strong ambassador for the AiD initiative championing it to other countries in the African Union. The initiative in Kenya aims advocate for the establishment of an animal disaster fund or at least have five percent of the national disaster fund (enacted in June 2018) dedicated to animals at the national level. With funds available the initiative will then progress to undertaking disaster risk actions to protect animals before disasters, plus also focus on training and establishing veterinary response teams. In doing so it will be fulfilling the requirement of the Sendai Framework.
The African Union intergovernmental bureau on animal resources is working with World Animal Protection to develop a checklist for member states to monitor progress for the Sendai Framework for the animal sector.
The University of Nairobi veterinary faculty is working with World Animal Protection to train other departments of veterinary services within regional universities to build their disaster response capacity.
Finding animals in Kenya’s law and policy
The legal framework for animal health, welfare, production, food safety and trade certification in Kenya has been based on three categories of legislation over the years. The first category comprises of the Acts of Parliament that are solely implemented in Veterinary Services. The second category contains Acts whose objectives cut across several professions and sectors including Veterinary Services. The third category has by-laws developed and applied by local authorities in collaboration with Veterinary Services.
The major legislation that impacts animal disasters include:
A. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA)
NDMA is a public body established by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) Act, 2016. The Act gives the NDMA the mandate to exercise overall coordination over all matters relating to drought management including implementation of policies and programmes relating to drought management.
The NDMA provides a platform for long-term planning and action, as well as a mechanism for solid coordination across government and with all other stakeholders. The Authority has established offices in 23 ASAL counties considered vulnerable to drought.
B. Veterinary Policy (draft)
The national government will:
- Support development of strategies for early warning, preparedness and rapid response to mitigate disasters that affect animals
- Support development of appropriate insurance packages to respond to disasters in the animal resource industry
The county governments will:
- Mainstream, in the animal resource industry, early warning, preparedness and rapid response to mitigate disasters that affect animals;
- Promote animal insurance to address losses that arise from natural and man-made disasters that impact animal resources.
Both levels of government will:
- Ensure protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources through compliance with Environmental Impact Assessments and periodic Environmental Audits in animal health and production, processing of animal products and by-products, marketing and trade in animals and animal products
- Provide for effective and sustainable waste disposal mechanisms, along the animal value chains, backed by a suitable legal framework
C. National Disaster Policy 2018
This policy emphasizes preparedness on the part of the Government, communities and other stakeholders in Disaster Risk Reduction activities. It aims at the establishment and strengthening of Disaster Management institutions, partnerships, networking and mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in the development process so as to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable groups to cope with potential disasters. Disaster management as viewed by this policy encompasses a full continuum from prevention, preparedness, relief and rehabilitation, back to mitigation and prevention. The Policy aims to increase and sustain resilience of vulnerable communities to hazards. The thrust of the Policy is to institutionalize disaster management and mainstream disaster risk reduction in the country’s development initiatives.
Looking forward – areas for development
There is no consolidated calculation of disaster risk and losses and productivity losses are collated – the information has to be collated from various sources.
The national disaster management policy is on hold. Livestock emergencies are still handled within various departments and institutions. This makes it difficult to coordinate response to disaster risk reduction to early recovery.
The responsibility for disaster management and risk reduction sits in several places within government. This means complex coordination and implementation and slow progress for animal concerns in both disaster response and disaster risk reduction.