Action Against Hunger,
A few months before COVID-19 grounded most of the economic activities in Kenya, communities in the arid areas of the country were worried about another virus: Lumpy Skin Disease. The disease killed as many as 8,000 cattle in West Pokot County, where livestock are the primary sources of income and food for many families.
Farmers were heartbroken, and many were shaken by the sudden loss of income. Some men, devastated by what they lost, left their homes for a time to mourn.
“When our livestock die in our community, we feel like we have lost people,” says one farmer named Solomon Chepkobol, who lost five bulls to Lumpy Skin Disease, costing him about $3,000.
In addition to the spread of Lumpy Skin Disease, West Pokot has recently seen outbreaks of two other livestock diseases, Foot and Mouth Disease and Black Quarter, which affects sheep and cattle. Frequent flooding in West Pokot and other regions also puts livestock at greater risk for infectious diseases and poor health. With few veterinarians in the expansive county, many farmers have had to devise their own means of surviving.
“We had never seen something like this,” said one farmer. “We often treat the cows ourselves and only call the veterinary officers when the cow does not get better.”
The cattle did not recover from the virus on their own: the animals stopped eating, hideous wounds broke on their hides, and many died. Families, especially those with young children, suffered when, suddenly, there was no milk