Case of Tikit village in West Pokot
‘Suus’, a pokot term for fodder, has become a talk of the town in Tikit Village, Central Pokot. It has been treasured, not because it is novel in the region but due to its prime role in saving the lives of both the locals and their livestock from the harsh jaws of drought.
As he begins to narrate, I could see the pain and sorrow written all over his face, Ritakapel Ngirotiang talks of how they lost so much cattle in a season and the only option they had as an intervention to get away from the raging jaws of this menace is to seek for supernatural intercession. He recalls how they could go to river banks to pray to ‘Tororot ngo piipo keny’ meaning gods of rains and ancestors to give them rains to at least end the drought and bring rains of hope to their motherland.
As he thinks deeply, Gladys Moler intervenes and explains of how her husband struggled to keep them and their livestock alive by migrating to Lomut on one of the drought seasons only to come back with two cows out of the 52. ‘Ki meghat’, meaning it was deadly, she cries as she recalls then wipes her tears with her kikoi, a pokot sheet mainly used by women as an outer cover clothing worn on top of the main dress code, stops and a somber mood fills the air. All the other group members bow their heads down, as if they were cursing their day of birth, since each one of them shared a similar ordeal at some point. These tragic turn of events neither happened once nor twice but several times before.
The last memorable drought occurrence was in 2009, and almost all the community households lost their cattle as a result. As Ritakapel narrates, that was their worst year ever. Almost every family was only left with skinny 2 or 3 cows. They had limited choices as they had no control over the situation but only to sympathize on them and pray to just set an eye to the next day.
However, the year 2010 was their turning point. The disaster changed their minds to focus on goat farming since they could withstand adverse climatic conditions than cows. With the new idea and focus, several households embraced goat rearing. As fate may have it this became a God sent Idea and it continued for 4 years before county government intervention in 2013.
The goat farming idea became so lucrative that when the county government came in 2013, they felt the need to support it. Therefore, they educated them through the ministry of livestock and agriculture on modern ways of improving the quality and quantity of their goats. Suus was the milestone towards the achievement of this goal. The only way to achieve efficient and effective management of this was to form small and manageable administrative units. The thinking led to formation of Simbol pastrolic.
The county government of West Pokot promised to make a change. It came up with a proposal to help in clearing and planting the first 50 acre plot that the community had set under the Simbol pastrolic group. Luckily, in the subsequent years, the community produced lots of fodder and this bread the need to begin rearing cows again. In 2017, other members of the community wanted to emulate this brilliant progress and hence Masol Demonstration plot came into existence. This group cleared and planted a 100 acre plot to actively produce fodder. However, the groups faced a myriad of drawbacks key among them were non-commitment by members and poor planning, poor record keeping and resource management. Overpowered by these challenges Simbol Pastrolic became extinct while Masol demonstration plot struggled to survive to date.
With these challenges and the great potential seen in fodder production in the area, E4Impact Foundation has become the new messiah in reviving the groups and enabling them maximize their potential through group dynamics training.
Group Dynamics Training in Tikit
‘Kinetat taa nete keng’arakech nyoman, a kepetecha keinghoi lenyoni tekespiene ngo gruptinecho’ loosely translated (This training has really impacted on us and we commit to go and apply the teachings to revive our group and use them to benefit ourselves and our livestock) said Losiwan Lokidengole a member of Simbol pastrolic group.
The USTAHIMILIVU project is funded by the European Union and Implemented by E4Impact Foundation, Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) CEFA, Amref Health Africa and SOMIRENEC.