Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) comprise 80 per cent of
The ASALs are by far the most crisis-ridden regions of
Owing to the deepening ecological crisis made worse by climate change, the ASALs are prone to violent conflict over water and pasture. Take a close look at the violence in Marsabit, Pokot, Marakwet, Transmara, Garissa, Mandera, Ganze and Tana River-one encounters pastoral communities locked in incessant territorial conflict over water and pasture.
When bureaucrats in
Added to the political neglect and under-development is another set of problems characteristic of the ASALs. The ASALs are the epicentre of a cycle of killer droughts floods and disease delivered by the El Nino phenomenon. Droughts in the region have risen fourfold over the past 25 years, ravaging landscapes, livelihoods and livestock. Drought in the ASALs now occurs every five years.
The drought, which affected
Massive deaths of cattle were reported in Marsabit and Mandera. In Turkana, the cows and sheep on which 250,000 pastoralists relied on for food and milk were decimated by drought in 2006. Some pastoralists in Kajiado and Narok in south-eastern
The heavy rains in 2006 caused the worst floods since the El Nino event of 1997/98. The perched soils flooded, driving families from their homes, cutting off roads, disrupting vital humanitarian relief services, spreading diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia.
The Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a rare zoonotic transmitted by mosquitoes is associated with El Nino and flooding in the ASALs. RVF causes pregnant animals to simultaneously lose their foetuses. Among new-born animals-calves, kids and lambs-the mortality rate can reach 90 per cent.
In the decades to come, climate change will act as a ‘threat amplifier’ that will aggravate existing concerns, such as water, pasture scarcity and food insecurity, more complex and intractable.
Oxfam International estimated that the loss of livestock and the cost of the humanitarian response to the 2006 drought was $800 million. However, these estimates do not take into account the nearly irreversible environmental degradation.
Decades of economic marginalization driven by with inappropriate development policies, have resulted in the ASALs being the most under-developed regions of
Basic services such as health care, water and education are neither adequately provided nor adapted to the suit the special circumstances of these predominantly pastoral communities. A devastating combination of critical failures in public policy and environmental shocks has therefore turned the ASALs into a veritable poverty trap.
Under a business as usual scenario, the ASALs presents an intractable hurdle that may prevent
For the first time since independence, the Government of Kenya (GOK) has put together a policy, investment and implementation plan for the ASALs, the National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Kenya. The government estimates that $3 billion will be required to execute a long-term development strategy for the ASALs over a period of 15 years.
To end the poverty trap there must be significant and sustained public and private investments towards the provision of water, grazing management, rangeland management, weather forecasting, veterinary care, education, health services, livestock extension services and marketing of livestock and livestock products.
The oil rich states of the Persian Gulf and
The Earth Institute at
The humanitarian crisis witnessed in
In a sense, global peace is inextricable bound with sustainable development and stable livelihoods of the pastoralist societies. Prof. Sachs believes that the only dependable path to real global peace in the vast and troubled drylands of the Africa and
There is an opportunity here to make the case for a Global Fund for Drylands. The