by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ministry of agriculture on Wednesday announced the disbursement of 3 million U.S. dollars to livestock keepers in the arid and semi arid counties that are reeling from negative impacts of a prolonged drought.
Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Willy Bett said that 11,500 pastoralists in six arid counties will benefit from the new insurance payouts to enhance their resilience in the face of climatic stresses.
"The payout is intended to purchase animal feeds, provide water, procure animal health care services and move animals to areas with better forage to cushion them against severe starvation and possible deaths," said Bett.
The ministry of agriculture in partnership with the World Bank and Nairobi based International Livestock Research Institute(ILRI) in June 2014 launched the insurance scheme for herders to cushion them from devastations linked to climate change.
Bett disclosed that 19,000 households in ten drought prone counties have received 2.2 million dollars since the launch of Kenya Livestock Insurance Program three years ago.
"This year, the government has expanded the livestock insurance to cover eight counties. A contract to cover 8,000 households has been signed and will commence in October," Bett told reporters.
Kenya has one of the most vibrant livestock sectors in the region which contributes an estimated 12 percent to the country's GDP.
The sector has nevertheless grappled with myriad challenges that include climatic shocks, infectious diseases, market volatility and collapsed veterinary services.
Bett said that introduction of insurance scheme for herders coupled with revival of veterinary services and establishment of new abattoirs have enhanced the resilience of the livestock sector.