Documenting Causes of Livestock Mortality Among Pastoralists in Ethiopia and Kenya

CRSP:   |  Region:   |  Topic:   |  Database:

John McPeak

Type of Document:
Research Brief


Global Livestock CRSP, University of California- Davis

Date of Publication:
April 2009

Place of Publication:
Davis, CA


Abstract: A major source of risk facing Ethiopian and Kenyan pastoralists is the death of their livestock. Livestock deaths confront households not just due to the lost value of the animal itself, but also from the lost future potential of the animal to provide a flow of livestock products such as milk, blood, transport, or traction in the future. The well-known ‘boom and bust’ cycle in arid and semi-arid rangelands is based on widespread, sudden deaths of animals, followed by a long slow process of rebuilding the herd. Researchers from the PARIMA (Pastoral Risk Management) project asked herders over the course of a ‘boom and bust’ cycle from 2000 to 2002 to report on the reasons for each animal that died in their herd. This brief presents findings on their responses. The main finding is that deaths attributed to drought (58%) are the leading cause of animal death in the period. Animal disease (28%) and predators (6%) are also significant contributors to animal deaths. It is shown that drought deaths are concentrated in specific time periods. These findings indicate that the main interventions that will help reduce the risks associated with pastoral production should focus on reducing the impact of asset loss in droughts. It is also clear that projects focusing on improved livestock health could lead to a significant reduction in livestock losses.

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