The Kenyan government has begun buying livestock in Samburu County under its livestock off-take programme covering 14 drought-hit counties where herders have been unable to find fodder to keep their animals alive.

Kenya Meat Commission Managing Commissioner Joseph Learamo says the government has nade available funds to buy livestock in the counties which have been severely hit by drought. Cases of livestock deaths are on the rise in the Northeastern, Rift Valley and Coastal regions of the country as a result of water and pasture challenges caused by the drought.

Te counties of Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Kilifi and Lamu are the most badly affected counties which have reported livestock deaths associated with drought. Herders in these areas are being forced to sell off animals to middlemen at throw-away prices to avoid losses in case of death.

This has prompted the government to roll out the livestock off-take programme targeting areas adversely affected by the drought. So far, the government has spent close to 220 million shillings (about 2.12 million USA dollars) to buy livestock in the 14 counties.

Learamo says weak animals are being taken for slaughter and the meat distributed to families facing challenges accessing food. The animals in better conditions are being transferred to Athi River for meat processing.

In Samburu County, about 120,000 residents are affected by the drought.