are dying and the people are faced with severe food shortage
A severe drought across Kajiado Central District, southeastern
Kenya, has left Maasai families and their cattle at their
worse state ever. Kids are dropping out of schools while parents
are struggling to nurse their young ones at home. The cattle
are malnourished and people are without food. The region has
not received adequate rains for four consecutive years.
The Maasai people of Kajiado Central District have been receiving
relief food from the World Food Program but with the ongoing
political situation in Kenya, flared by the recent constitutional
referendum, the food has been late in arriving. "The
situation in Kajiado Central district is serious and one that
might claim several lives," said Kajiado Central MP,
Major General (Rtd) Joseph Nkaisserry during the interview
conducted by East African Standard.
Maasai are traditionally nomadic and pastoral people who depend
on milk and meat for subsistence. Stocking of Maasai food
staples is difficult, as refrigeration is unheard of. In fact,
most Maasai have never even seen a refrigerator. This makes
it difficult for them to store food for later use.
areas hardest-hit by drought and food shortage in Kajiado
Central District are in the vicinity of Amboseli National
Park, which last year generated approximately 240 million
Kenyan Shillings (estimated $3.5 million US). In addition,
the Kilimanjaro Water Project cuts through the communities
mentioned herein but the villagers are barred from using the
water for irrigation or for livestock. “Should the water
from the Kilimanjaro Water Project and the revenue from the
Amboseli National Park be shared with the local communities,
food shortage in Kajiado District would have been prevented,”
said a local chief who asked not to be identified.
Maasai of Kajiado Central District are not only combating
a bad drought, they are also faced with great pressure from
Game Wardens stationed in lower Chulu Hills, an area that
once belonged to the Maasai of Kajiado Central District. The
Chulu Hills area used to be a secondary grazing zone for the
Maasai, and was left fallow so the vegetation could rejuvenate.
The Maasai people moved to the Chulu Hills area when the drought
became severe such as is occurring under present conditions.
In 1995 the Maasai lost the area to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Lower Chulu Hills is the only place that has received rains
this year. Most Maasais from Kajiado Central District moved
to Chulu Hills early November 2005 where they encountered
strict Game Wardens who drove them off the land.
wardens are now arresting Maasai warriors on a daily basis
leaving cattle behind unattended. “Many cows have been
lost to drought and to predators, mainly lions and hyenas”,
said Samuel Ole Ntauti who lost five cows to predators. Two
of Ntauti’s herdsmen (warriors) have been taken to Kibwezi
police station where they have been beaten and charged huge
fines for grazing cattle in the Chulu Hills.
from the game wardens are our greatest nemesis, much worse
than drought” said Henry Ole Kutata, Merrueshi village
elder who stayed in Kibwezi cell for four days before his
family learned about his arrest. Mr. Kutata, like many other
herders, lost twelve cows to hyenas the day he was taken into
temperatures are on the rise in the region and there are still
no signs of rain.
aid distribution programs should be continued in Kajiado Central
District, the hardest-hit marginal agricultural area, as the
food situation is anticipated to remain severe until the next
rainy season in April.
the Maasai of Kajiado Central District are hoping that the
Kenyan government will urge the Game Wardens to leave the
herders alone at least during this time of severe drought.
hardest-hit areas in Kajiado Central District include: Merrueshi,
Mashuru, Poka, Torosei, Nga’tataek, Ilbissil, Isara,
Imbuko, Noosidan, and Ilkelunyeti.
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Additional information for this article was provided by villagers
of Kajiado Central District and The East African Standard.