At least 100 heads of cattle were yesterday slaughtered in Isiolo as the government embarks on a livestock off-take programme to cushion pastoralists from incurring massive losses as a result of death of their animals due to the persistent drought in the region.
The Sh2.7 million exercise rolled out by Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) follows announcement by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri while distributing relief food two weeks ago in Ngaremara, Isiolo that the government will roll out the programme in the region to mitigate the effects of drought in pastoralist counties.
The CS announced that the government would purchase the emaciated animals, slaughter them and give them back to members of the affected community as part of a relief programme.
He said that the initiative would ensure that at least 4,500 animals are slaughtered in Marsabit County and 4,000 in Isiolo County.
Each weak animal was purchased at Sh25,000 from herders in Ngaremara, Kulamawe, Boji and Oldonyiro.
Hundreds of residents scrambled for free meat at the Isiolo slaughter house where the animals were slaughtered before being transported to the far flung areas of Ngaremara, Tractor and Ariemet.
Government institutions including Isiolo Prison, Isiolo Referral Hospital and schools also benefitted from the programme.
During distribution, other herders declined to take the meat saying the government pledged to purchase animals from them but instead bought from other areas.
Isiolo GK Prison Commander Hassan Ibrahim lauded the government’s move to help the local communities which are predominantly pastoralist to reduce losses, adding that both the inmates and staff at the correctional facility were really happy for the rare treat of free meat by the government.
The Principal, St Pauls secondary school-Kiwanjani Mr George Mbijiwe also appreciated the government’s move, adding that institutions ought to have been offered live animals so that they slaughter them according to amount required due to perishability of meat. He said that most schools did not have refrigeration equipment and that giving them more than two cows worth of meat was a great challenge to them as they now need to hire fridges to store the product.
Residents of Tractor led by Mr William Ekiru called on the government to scale up the off-take programme saying thousands of their animals have been affected by the prevailing drought while other herders demanded that the government offers cash directly to them instead of involving agents who end up buying animals from elsewhere.