Dec 29, 2005

Maasai: Reopen Meat Factory to Fight Drought

The leaders, who spoke in Machakos, said the worsening drought threatened the livestock sector. They said the Government should rescue the Maasai by opening the meat canning factory without delay
Leaders from the Kamba and Maasai communities have petitioned the Government to reopen the Kenya Meat Commission.

They said it would enable the factory to buy livestock in drought-hit regions for slaughter and processing. MPs Mofat Maitha, Daudi Mwanzia, Charles Kilonzo, Itwiku Mbai and Olkejuado County Council chairman Julius ole Ntaiya said thousands of cattle were on the verge of death due to depleted pasture.

"The Government should hasten the reopening of KMC to give pastoralists a ready market," said Mwanzia.

The leaders, who spoke in Machakos, said the worsening drought threatened the livestock sector. They said the Government should rescue the Maasai by opening the meat canning factory without delay.

Machakos District Commissioner Osman Warfa, who met Maasai leaders, said herdsmen had invaded parts of Machakos District in search of pasture. He said thousands of herdsmen were fleeing Kajiado and were moving to ranches in Lukenya and Kangundo. He said Administration Police officers and District Officers in the affected areas had been ordered to ensure that the herdsmen and locals do not clash.

Animals flee park

At the same time, wild animals are fleeing the Nairobi National Park into farms in Machakos District. The Park along the Nairobi-Machakos highway is home to hundreds of wild animals now affected by the biting drought.

Pasture and water points in the park have dried up, forcing the animals to migrate. Giraffes, wildebeest, antelopes and zebras were leaving the park for farms and unused land in Machakos District.

Meanwhile, several schools in Kirindon and Lolgorian divisions may not reopened in January due to famine.

Twenty civic leaders in Trans Mara District led by Trans Mara county council chairman Stanley Cheruiyot appealed to the Government to supply relief food. Cheruioyot said local leaders were surprised that the Government had ignored the area despite the obvious famine.

The leaders appealed to the minister for Special Programmes, John Munyes, to include the area in relief food distribution.

"We are very bitter that our people are suffering and the Government appears to be unconcerned," Cheruiyot said.

They said nearly 1 million animals were in danger of starvation.

Lack of a strategic plan

Meanwhile, Tourism and Wildlife minister Morris Dzoro has called on Coast District Commissioners to collect relief food from the district stores and begin distributing it to famine victims by next week.

Dzoro asked DCs from Kwale, Kilifi, Malindi, Tana River, Lamu and Taita Taveta to liaise with the army barracks in the province to distribute the relief food. Speaking by the telephone from Mandera, Dzoro said excuses by the administrators that there was no means of transport would not be tolerated.

"The DCs should liaise with the Mariakani and Nyali army barracks to ensure that the relief food reaches the famine victims," he said.

The minister, who had accompanied President Kibaki on a tour of North Eastern Province, said thousands of Coast residents were starving yet Government stores were full.

He blamed the provincial administration for lack of a strategic plan to take food from the stores to the hunger-stricken residents.

He said he was planning to meet Defence minister Njenga Karume to discuss the use of army vehicles.

"This time, the provincial administrators will not be allowed to give the excuse of lack of transport yet food rots in the stores while residents are starving," he said.

The minister urged chiefs and their assistants to ensure that relief food sent to the residents was distributed fairly.

Source: The Standard