Northern Kenya is an isolated and undeveloped region where many communities are reliant on animals for their livelihoods. Drought is common, and when the rains fail it can have devastating consequences for working animals, livestock and the families that rely on them. SPANA has recently funded two projects to promote animal health and build resilience amongst pastoralist communities.


During 2011 the Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in 60 years, with 12.4 million people in need of food, and famine declared across large areas. Kenya’s government estimated that eight million livestock were lost. 

With Kenya facing a humanitarian emergency, and many nomadic pastoralists in the region dependent on livestock for their survival, SPANA worked in collaboration with Practical Action ( in Mandera to provide 50,000 head of livestock with 90,000kg of feed supplements and concentrates. We also funded 10 livestock health service drives to provide necessary treatment to 36,000 sheep and goats, and the vaccination of 40,000 goats against contagious caprine pleuropnumonia and goat pox, targeting 10 locations within five divisions of Mandera central district. In addition, fuel subsidies were being provided to five villages for water trucking for livestock and human use.

Thanks to generous support from SPANA donors, we succeeded in protecting  a nucleus of livestock through the thedevastating drought, allowing pastoralist communities that depend totally on animals to rapidly resume their livelihoods once the rains returned.


Kenya’s most north-westerly district, Turkana, is one of the country’s three areas that were most significantly affected by the drought. With a population largely consisting of pastoralists, the region is heavily reliant on livestock and working animals. However, with crops failing and malnutrition rates soaring above 35 per cent in some areas - families resorted to selling livestock for cash to buy increasingly expensive food. The remaining animals were susceptible to disease and looting, which increase during economic hardship. It has been estimated that in Turkana, 90 per cent of families lost their livestock.

In collaboration with the MSCPA missionary organisation,  ( SPANA has facilitated the construction of earth dams and a rock catchment dam in the north of the region. The harvesting of rainwater during the wet season ensures that herds of animals have access to drinking water for up to 15 months– vital for the survival of the livestock and the communities that depend on them, particularly in the event of a drought. 

The tough donkeys of Turkana

SPANA's chief executive Jeremy Hulme talks through some of the animals he encountered on his recent visit to Kenya

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