Managing Access to Water and Pasture in Isiolo

By Victor Orindi and Jane Kiiru (The Adaptation Consortium)

The Kenyan government declared the current drought affecting at least 23 arid and semi-arid counties a national disaster in February 2017. Humans, livestock and wildlife lives are at risk due to the drought. Additionally, pastoralists have not had a chance to recover from droughts during previous years.

The Adaptation Consortium has initiated various projects through the County Climate Change Fund (CCCF) to support communities in arid and semi-arid counties to build their resilience to climate change including the current drought. Through the project, the climate change committees together with communities identify, prioritize and implement innovative projects such as the rehabilitation and fencing of the Harr Bibi Pan in in Kinna Ward (in the picture below). The fencing, and building of a water kiosk and watering troughs outside the perimeter fence has resulted in 

controlled and separate access to water by human and livestock. Investment in watering troughs ensures animals do not empty their wastes in the pan as they drink water. The local community has noted that the water is now clean and lasts longer contributing to reduction in water stress.

The Isiolo County Climate Change Committees have also invested in reviving the Dedha – customary natural resource management institution that governs the use of land based resources through a strong traditional system. This system allows pastoralists to periodically move livestock according to the different seasons starting with wet season grazing area, to dry season and lastly to drought reserves. A recent study undertaken by the Adaptation Consortium found that the Dedha system has reduced livestock mortality by 60% as compared to previous years of droughts; and reduced disease outbreaks due to controlled livestock influx from other wards and counties. Due to the current drought, there has been massive migration of livestock into Isiolo county from the neighbouring counties, for example, Marsabit, Samburu, Garissa and a few from Wajir.