Turkana women benefit from drought intervention project

drought recovery
Members of Koroirok women group show off their goats donated by UNDP as part of an initiative to restock livestock

Turkana County located in the Northern part of Kenya is one of the regions in the country often affected by serious drought, malnutrition and hunger occasioned by the harsh climatic conditions. The main source of livelihood is pastoralism where they rely on their cattle, goats, sheep and camel for their income and food.  But due to lack of enough water and pasture, the people of Turkana have faced starvation leading to loss of life for both the residents and their animals. In such circumstances, relief food, water and medicine has been regularly supplied by multi agency support operations.

UNDP through the drought response programme in partnership with the government of Kenya under the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) targeted some of the worst hit areas in the recent drought and to support urgent recovery of communities affected by the drought and to strengthen institutions responsible for recovery and disaster risk reduction.

Through this initiative several women groups were given goats as part of an initiative to restock livestock after the effects of drought that left most livestock herds seriously depleted. One such group is Koroirok women group who benefited from restocking of 20 indigenous goats and also received business management training to equip them with the necessary skills to handle finances and source for market.

Mary Lokwakol the treasure of the group describes how they have been able to empower themselves economically by transforming the group into a business venture. ‘‘We have a bank account that we use to save money which we look to invest with’’, Mary explains.

Each member of the group as a way of raising more capital bought each of the goats for Kshs. 2,000 about $ 24 and reinvested the money on buying more stock. The women decide to trade in goats because they are more resistant to drought. Goats are browsers so they feed on shrubs and leaves not grass like cows which are normally the fast casualties to drought because of lack of pasture.

In just three months, the women were able to save Kshs. 25,000 ($300) from profits made from the sale of goats. Lokwakol however states that this will definitely rise as the group seeks to invest more. ‘‘The greatest challenge we have is that Turkana cultural set up does not allow women to look after animals, we are forced hire a herdsman to look after the goats’’, She says.

The group aims to increase their stock and also embrace rearing of cattle and camel. In the long run  Koroirok women group are looking at the possibility of diversify into more hands on business venture like tailoring to encourage more women to actively participate.

Though such initiatives UNDP aims to deliver interventions as a medium term measure to support urgent recovery of communities affected by the drought and to strengthen institutions responsible for recovery and disaster risk reduction work. The programme targets direct beneficiaries include communities hosting refugees from Somalia, Internally Displaced Persons, vulnerable youth (female and male) and women, key local government officials from technical departments, NGOs, CBO and relevant humanitarian actors engaged in ER work. In total, approximately 300,000 affected communities will benefit directly from the project.