With cattle dead or too weak, dairy plant shuts down

NO PASTURE, NO WATER: The situation is moving from bad to worse

The drought has led to the deaths of a large number of livestock throughout the county

A dairy project run by ENAI Africa has been forced to close down due to the severe drought ravaging a large swathe of Kajiado County.

Following the closure of the project, women who depended on it for a livelihood have been forced to look for alternative casual jobs to fend for their families.

The dairy plant is based in Kikurruo area of Dalalekutuk Ward, with a population of about 3,500 people. The factory supported about 55 homesteads and five early childhood development schools in the area.

ENAI Africa Executive Director Dr Lanoi Parmuat has been leading initiatives to provide water to residents and to feed the children in the five schools. “We also assist local inhabitants who have lost their livestock to the ravaging drought and provide treatment for malnourished women and children as well as the elderly.”

The initiative aims at preserving the dignity of the residents despite their vulnerable economic state. “We are determined to do more to impart knowledge and skills on alternative and sustainable sources of livelihood and ensure food security,” said Dr Lanoi.

Speaking to the Kajiado Star, ENAI Africa project officer on social entrepreneurship Catherine Makena said the Naretoi Oltarakwa Dairy Project assisted the local community through value addition to make products such as yoghurt and sour milk for sale. “In our community, the woman owns the milk and is at liberty to do what she wants with it. This dairy has supported many women in this area and the entire community at large.”

In the process, the project created employment for young people and enabled women to pay school fees for their children. But not anymore, with the drought having led to the deaths of a large number of livestock throughout the county.

“The herders migrated with their animals. There is no fodder, no rain and no water. All we can see is death and hunger for both people and animals,” said Makena. “Without the milk, the dairy closed down. We have witnessed the children having chronic absenteeism from schools due to lack of food. Their parents have no source of income. The animals being sold are at a throwaway price.”

Many herders and livestock are said to have migrated to Narok County as the drought continued to bite. Some have since returned, only to find the situation is moving from bad to worse. It was recently reported that herders were now selling cattle for as little as Ksh500 to get rid of their herds. Most herders have lost all or most of their livestock.

Makena attributed the drought to climate change, saying it was unfortunate that the equipment at the dairy plant was now lying idle.

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