In Kajiado, the current drought is a double tragedy. Reflection of the last drought still lingers in the minds of herders who are still grappling with unpaid debts by the cash-starved Kenya Meat Commission (KMC).
In 2017, when a similar situation occurred,the Athi River-based factory launched an off-take programme to salvage thousands of emaciated animals by buying them from herders at a cost of Sh18,000 up from Sh1,000 offered by meat merchants.
However, two years later, hundreds of herders are yet to be paid their dues. KMC owes herders Sh490 million across the country, with a substantial portion of this owed to Kajiado herders.
The drought is here again and the debts from the previous dry spell is driving local herders into desperation. Samuel Tupet from Kaputiei says he is owed Sh3.8 million while his brother demands Sh1.5 million as per the documents signed with KMC on the animals delivered.
David Kirimpai from Isinya says he is owed Sh2.5 million, a development that has put him on a collision course with a bank he had borrowed from for his livestock venture. “We know that our animals were slaughtered and meat sold but where is our money? We are dying slowly,” he said.
Nancy Nasieku from Kajiado Central who once sold one of her dying cows at Sh500 thought the KMC off-take was a godsend, but it turned out to be a source of misery.
“We have waited for this money. My husband died waiting for this money. I am also headed to death as it is unbearable with the second drought biting hard,” she said yesterday, before breaking into tears.
Governor Joseph Ole Lenku lamented the agony being suffered by herders and urged KMC to pay up.
“It is becoming complicated to seek another off-take plan from the government when the previous one has not been paid. It is double tragedy for herders. KMC must reduce this suffering,” he said yesterday.