However, all is not lost. While the cattle population was on the decline, that of sheep and goats in the 21 counties rose by 76.3 per cent, with some, such as Laikipia and Lamu, recording a 256.6 per cent and 458 per cent increase, respectively.
WAKE UP CALL
According to the scientists, cattle can thrive if temperatures do not surpass 30°C and not below 10° C. But small animals like sheep and goats, and also camels, can tolerate warmer temperatures; hence the reason they multiplied exponentially.
These findings should be a wake-up call for all counties. They should use the data to re-evaluate what is happening in terms of rising temperatures and rainfall variations and the projections to come up with sound policies that are responsive to climate change.
One way of adapting to climate shocks and stresses will be by developing policies with clear knowledge of what the near future is likely to look like, with a focus on appropriate technologies, while being mindful of crops or livestock that are going to survive in projected climatic conditions.
Kitui, Tharaka-Nithi and Embu counties are joining hands with the Pan-Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and faith-based organisations to develop climate change policies based on experiments by farmers to identify local technologies that can aid adaptation.
Considering the Prise research findings, some counties will need to re-think and prioritise their livestock investment options to take comparative advantage of the resources they have. They could invest in slaughterhouses — for example, Laikipia and Isiolo (cattle), Marsabit (goats) and Wajir (camel, sheep and goats).
County governments must, therefore, consider such important knowledge as they develop their spatial plans.
Mr Esipisu, a freelance journalist, is the coordinator for Pan-African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC). [email protected]