Assessment of the impact of climate change on livestock diseases in Kajiado district, Kenya
Climate comprises many factors including temperature, rainfall, humidity, winds and altitude that can have both direct and indirect effects on animal production and health. It can also affect the quality and quantity of feedstuffs such as pasture, forage and grain and the severity and distribution of livestock diseases and parasites. Livestock is very critical as source of food and livelihoods in the ASAL areas which are occupied by pastoralists. Animal diseases contribute to poverty globally particularly in the developing world. Climate change might be associated with these diseases. This study investigated associations between livestock disease occurrence and climatic variability/change in a selected location of Kajiado District of Kenya. The broad objective of this study was to establish whether climate variability has any influence on livestock health in Kajiado District. Specific objectives were to determine the community knowledge, attitudes and practices in connection with diseases and climate change in Kajiado District; to assess prevalence of key livestock diseases in the study area; determine the trend of climate changes in Kajiado District; to investigate associations between livestock disease occurrence and climatic variability; and to recommend appropriate disease management practices and policies to mitigate against livestock diseases associated with climate variability. This study was done in Enkaroni Location, Central division, Kajiado District which is an ASAL area. The area is characterized by frequent droughts due to climatic changes which lead to migration of pastoralists with their livestock. A cross-sectional survey using participatory rural appraisal (PRA), key informant meetings, transect walks and semi structured interviews was carried out. A semi-structured questionnaire was also administered to 177 households to collect data on the effects of climate change on livestock disease outbreaks. Desk-top data on climate (weather elements of temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind direction and speed) for the previous 30 years from five meteorological stations close to the study site (Dagoretti, Magadi, Narok, JKIA and Wilson Airports) was obtained from the Kenya Meteorological Department. Livestock disease data for the previous 10 years was obtained from the Divisional Veterinary Office. The data was processed and analysed using (SPSS) version 16.0 Statistical package. The study found out that humidity and wet bulb temperature had changed over a 30 year period while climate factors within the five stations had variations. Climate variability had significant effect on the occurrence of livestock diseases. Individual disease outbreaks were positively or negatively correlated with certain weather elements. For example rainfall had a significant relationship with the overall aggregate of all reported cases with a positive correlation coefficient of r=0.469, ( p<0.05 ). Rainfall was negatively correlated with FMD (r= -0.525, p>O.OI). Temperature and humidity had a significant positive correlation with; Helminthiasis (r= 0.486, p<0.05), FMD(r=0.448, p<0.05) and ECF(r=0.529, p<O.OI). Wind direction and speed had a significant influence on livestock disease outbreaks (p< 0.001 and p< 0.05 respectively). The study concluded that there has been a significant change in climate in Kajiado over the last 30 years (1967-2007) and the change had influence on livestock diseases, pasture and water availability, which in turn affected Livestock productivity. The study recommends initiation of an early warning system, targeted and strategic disease management interventions, extension education on management of livestock diseases, construction of water holding reservoirs and establishment of a national contingency pasture reserve in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. Extension education should be enhanced in pastoral areas so as to prevent livestock diseases which lead to food insecurity. Efforts should also be made to create a national pasture reserve in order to assist pastoralists during adverse climate changes while an early warning system should be put in place to warn and advice pastoralists of climatic variations and the attendant disasters.