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Cablegate: Drought Recovery Assessment ? Marsabit

VZCZCXRO5469
PP RUEHRN
DE RUEHNR #1362/01 0851337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261337Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8509
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0140
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001362

SIPDIS

AIDAC

USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, WGARVELINK, LROGERS
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, GGOTTLIEB, AFERRARA, ACONVERY,
KCHANNELL, MBRENNAN
DCHA/FFP FOR WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN
AFR/AFR/EA FOR JBORNS
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
STATE/AF/E FOR NGARY
STATE/F FOR ASISSON
STATE/PRM FOR AWENDT, MMCKELVEY
NSC FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR AMAHONEY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL KE
SUBJECT: DROUGHT RECOVERY ASSESSMENT ? MARSABIT
DISTRICT

SUMMARY

1. Following severe drought conditions in 2006,
livestock, agriculture, nutrition, and livelihoods are
improving in Marsabit District of northern Kenya. A
successful short rains season from October through
December and coordinated relief efforts combined to
boost early drought recovery of affected communities.
While pastoralists require several cycles of successful
rains to restore herd sizes to sustainable levels,
livestock are beginning to rebound, and agro-
pastoralists are benefiting from productive post-rain
harvests. For most areas of Marsabit District, the
drought emergency has ended and early indicators point
towards initial recovery in most sectors. As a result,
no additional emergency interventions are required at
this time. End summary.

BACKGROUND

2. Successive periods of failed rains led to a severe
food insecurity and livelihoods crisis in 2006,
impacting nearly 3 million nomadic and agro-
pastoralists throughout northern Kenya. Heavy rainfall
during the short October to December 2006 rains allowed
for improved agricultural conditions, however, flooding
temporarily delayed emergency drought recovery
activities in many districts. In addition, an outbreak
of Rift Valley fever in northeastern Kenya, and the
resulting ban on slaughtering animals, interrupted the
livestock trade and stalled livelihood recovery in some
of the worst-affected regions.

3. A USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance
(OFDA) assessment team traveled to Marsabit District in
northern Kenya from March 19 to 22 to evaluate drought
recovery conditions. The team met with relief
agencies, Government of Kenya (GOK) officials, and
affected communities to determine the current
humanitarian situation, monitor ongoing recovery
programs, and develop recommendations for future action
as appropriate.

EARLY STAGES OF RECOVERY

4. Most communities in Marsabit have begun to recover
from emergency drought conditions following a strong
short rains season and targeted assistance programs
such as seed and food aid distributions and animal re-
stocking. Relief organizations report that the
sufficient quantity and broad distribution of the short
rains has led to general improvement in livestock
conditions, strong production in staple crops, and a
positive trend in animal and human health.
Malnutrition appears to be limited to areas of chronic
poverty, including North Horr and Loiyangalani
divisions, according to GOK monthly assessments.

5. At the end of the current dry season, animal
grazing pastures remain adequate and farmers are
beginning to harvest post-rain crops of maize, millet,
sorghum, beans, and cowpeas. Communities indicated
that there have been no significant disease outbreaks
in either animals or humans since the short rains, and
agro-pastoralists did not report problems with pests
during the recent harvest. There were no confirmed or
suspected cases of Rift Valley fever in Marsabit
District, and the GOK Arid Lands Resources Management
Program indicated that livestock prices are beginning

NAIROBI 00001362 002 OF 003


to rise following a temporary decline related to the
animal slaughter ban and fears of the nearby outbreak.

6. Requirements for complete drought recovery differ
for agro-pastoralists versus pastoralist communities,
due to the additional time required for herds to
achieve sustainable levels through several breeding
cycles. While a successful post-short rains harvest
can mean improved nutrition and income for farming
communities within three to four months, nine and
twelve month gestation cycles for cattle and camels
mean delayed milk production and herd recovery.
Following herd losses of 50 to 70 percent, several
breeding cycles will be required for most herds to
reach pre-drought levels.

7. The implication of this multiple-phase recovery for
pastoralists is evident in the joint UN World Food
Program and Kenyan Red Cross post-short rains food
security assessment in February. Red Cross officials
reported preliminary recommendations for a 20 percent
reduction in targeted Marsabit beneficiaries of food
aid in March, from 80,000 to approximately 60,000.
Despite recognizing strong early recovery across
sectors and areas, the Red Cross noted that the limited
reduction was due to the longer recovery period for
pastoralists.

COORDINATED RELIEF EFFORTS

8. The OFDA assessment team received multiple reports
of successful coordination among non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and GOK agencies conducting relief
activities. Regular coordination meetings in Nairobi
and at the field level served to effectively prevent
overlap in animal restocking, seed distribution, and
animal vaccination programs. However, one NGO noted
that GOK restocking programs provided fewer sheep or
goats per family than recommended minimums as outlined
by the Ministry of Livestock, thereby delaying full
herd recovery for some families.

USAID EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

9. In fiscal year 2006, OFDA provided more than $5.6
million for emergency water and sanitation, and food
security and agriculture drought recovery activities
throughout Kenya, including more than $820,000 for
emergency assistance in Marsabit District. OFDA
programs in Marsabit included animal vaccinations to
help sustain drought-weakened herds, dam rehabilitation
and rainwater catchment systems to reduce vulnerability
during the dry seasons, and hygiene education to
prevent the spread of water-born illnesses.

10. The NGO Living Waters is building 30 water
catchment tanks and six dams for six pastoralist
communities in northern Marsabit. By working with
local elders to identify suitable locations for the
projects, the tanks and dams complement existing water
facilities and provide safe drinking water during the
dry seasons. Each tank can hold 80,000 liters and
sustain approximately 50 households for one month,
while nearby boreholes will continue to be used for
livestock.

11. The NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has
excavated or rehabilitated six dams throughout
Marsabit, which can provide up to five months of

NAIROBI 00001362 003 OF 003


drinking water for milk-producing livestock. By
restricting usage of the dams to limited animals from
each household, local villages are effectively boosting
community nutrition from regular milk consumption, and
extending the duration of the water during drought
seasons. Non-milk producing animals are able to travel
farther to additional year-round water points. CRS has
also constructed rainwater catchment systems and
storage tanks for nine schools in Marsabit, which
provide drinking and cooking water for students and
teachers.

COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

12. OFDA supported drought interventions in Marsabit
initiated in late 2006, including the rehabilitation of
water pans and rain harvesting systems, have improved
access to water and are benefiting residents and their
livestock during the current dry season.

13. Following the recent assessment of humanitarian
conditions and ongoing relief activities, the OFDA team
concluded that no additional emergency interventions
are currently required for Marsabit District. However,
the performance of upcoming rainy seasons and historic
tension between tribes in the area have the potential
to influence drought recovery for both nomadic and
agro-pastoralists in the area.

14. Sporadic and low-intensity conflict, particularly
between the Borana and Gabra tribes, often escalates
during rainy periods when the different groups are more
mobile and come into contact with greater frequency.
While confrontations often arise when competing for
water resources, OFDA noted several reports of
increased tension related to political representation
and upcoming elections. Although violence between the
tribes is infrequent, tensions do occasionally restrict
grazing patterns and have the potential to negatively
impact animal health and human livelihoods.

15. Relief agencies stated that more frequent de-
silting of water points could minimize competition for
water between different tribes during rainy seasons.
In addition, a larger government presence along the
Kenya-Ethiopia border would be beneficial in
restricting cross-border movement and resulting
skirmishes as Ethiopian pastoralists attempt to secure
additional grazing areas in northern Kenya.

16. The Nairobi-based OFDA regional advisor will
continue to monitor the situation and work with partner
NGOs to identify emerging humanitarian issues.

RANNEBERGER

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