One of the most frustrating incidents for a pastoralist in Northern Kenya include watching helplessly as their precious livestock die one after the other. This was a familiar occurrence for Sheikh Ado Daud from Eldas, a remote sub-county in Wajir County. He is one out of the millions of pastoralists in Wajir who face this challenge, especially since Eldas is about 119 kilometers away from the main town, Wajir, where they can get help.
Sheikh Daud faced huge losses every time a new disease struck. His misfortunes multiplied when drought struck since he would have to travel even farther to access to water and pasture. In the North, livestock is considered as “wealth” and most households keep them for various reasons. While the drought situation is beyond his control, Sheikh Daud now finds it possible to mitigate losses caused by diseases.
In the past, pastoralists like Daud needed to travel 119 Kilometers or farther to get to Wajir town just purchase required drugs. Sometimes the drugs were not in stock, which meant covering about another 320 Kilometers to Garissa town hoping to find them. With an almost non-existent road to Wajir and Garissa, the journeys were expensive and time-consuming. Mostly, Daud, like other pastoralists lost good portions of their herds to the illnesses, and the cycle persisted. With 50 percent of the herd remaining, Daud would additionally confront a drought season, another cause of more livestock death. All of a sudden, the once wealthy man would become a pauper.
Things changed in 1998 when Ibrahim Adan set up Eldas Agrovet to supply animal health inputs and provide consultancy services to pastoralists. This relief was short-lived because of an influx of counterfeit drugs in the market. Some suppliers would purchase cheap low quality drugs from across the borders, to the detriment of the pastoralists and the agrovet.
In 2015, Eldas Agrovet partnered with Wajir Agrovet. Eldas Agrovet became an agent for the first time, Eldas was certain that they were able to stock quality drugs. At first, the residents were hesitant until they eventually realized that the drugs they purchased at Eldas cured their animals. This restored their faith in veterinary medicines once again.
Eldas Agrovet in partnership with Wajir Agro vet embarked on an awareness drive to further educate pastoralists on drug administration and handling, identification of counterfeits, disease detection and reporting, and commercialization of livestock farming. This led to Eldas Agrovet becoming a much-needed reliable source of veterinary information for the pastoralists.
Animal health has since greatly improved in Eldas. A Grade 1 goat now fetches up to Kshs.9, 000 compared to Kshs. 2,500 in 2014. Pastoralists such as Sheikh Daud have also been trained to separate their herds depending on their health. The healthiest of the animals are reared with special care, to attain the Grade 1 status. When the goats mature, Sheikh Daud sells them at higher prices then uses part of his proceeds to re-stock. He saves the rest of the money in a bank, for use by his family during the drought seasons. The savings also support the recovery of his wealth after the drought.
Counterfeits drugs and livestock deaths are no longer such a great challenge to Ibrahim, Daud and the pastoralists in Wajir. The growth of Eldas Agrovet has led to the pastoralists in Eldas managing to enhance their markets and living standards.