By Fred Sitati.
Serious concern and apparent sense of hopelessness has been expressed by the Kajiado leaders over the perennial drought that has continued to threaten the livelihoods of the residents who are largely dependent on livestock keeping for a long time.
The matter is further compounded by the infiltration of middlemen who buy farm produce cheaply from the farmers due to their direct inaccessibility to the market.
This has, over the years, left poor farmers playing into the hands of the middlemen from the urban centers.
This is happening in the midst of an influx of land buyers who have literally invaded the county for purposes of acquiring land from the residents with the consequence of further threatening the sustainability of the livestock keeping by the Maa Community.
In order to counter those threats, it is important for the Kajiado County residents with support from the County Government to adopt a more participatory approach by forming cooperatives to handle the various economic activities that the county is endowed with.
For instance, through aggressive sensitization programmes, the herders could be encouraged to form Livestock Marketing Co-operatives that would own holding grounds supplied with borehole water for their use.
They can also collectively establish pasture fields through irrigation for mitigating the adverse effects of drought.
To achieve this, co-operatives so registered can enter into Public Private Partnerships (PPP) arrangements with either the County orNational Governments or any other parties to safeguard livelihoods.
That way, they will have a stronger voice or platform for articulating their economic issues.
The same arrangement could be applied for agricultural produce where value addition could be applied to increase returns to the farmers.
Given the proliferation of learning institutions in the county, the herders could be convinced to dispose of a percentage of their animals to invest in real estate by way of putting up hostels and residential quarters which can be rented out to various institutions. This arrangement will guarantee the members a consistent source of income.
On the other hand, the youth could be mobilized and equipped with entrepreneurial skills as well as agro-business so as to make them self-reliant given the dwindling sizes of their ancestral land.
In order to actualize the above, the County Government should facilitate the carrying out of a baseline survey on the potential of co-operatives in Kajiado County.
The report findings thereof can then inform the formulation of a “County Cooperative Development Policy “that should involve all stakeholders before approval by the County Executive and finally the County Assembly.
Such a blueprint can then guide future County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) as well as guide appropriate funding from the County Government.
In formulating the County Policy, aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which resonate with the residents of Kajiado should be captured.
I remain optimistic that formation of strong viable cooperatives can go a long way towards alleviating some of the ills bedeviling the residents of Kajiado.