Pastoralists in the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties of Kenya have gone digital in tracking for pasture and water for their cattle.
AfriScout, an application created by American Non-Governmental Organisation Project Concern International (PCI), is helping herders in Isiolo, Kajiado, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Tana River and Garissa track the two commodities using satellite and mobile technology.
The app provides current water and vegetation conditions on localized grazing maps, enabling pastoralists to locate rich pasture for their flock.
AfriScout also tells them places to avoid in order to reduce encounters with wild animals.
This helps pastoralists make more accurate and cost-effective migration decisions as well as improve pasture management and collaboration.
For six months in 2017 between February and July, the ASAL counties were ravaged by drought forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare it a national disaster.
But the situation has changed for the better since then with most pastoralists raving over the app which they began using early this year.
“We used to trek long distances to access pasture and water but since February when we started using the app our fortunes have changed we have now become more tactful. We know the right times to access pasture and water,” said Ali Gufu, a pastoralist based in Bubasi, Marsabit County during an interview with VOA.
Previously, competition for pasture and water led to fierce clashes and banditry sometimes leading to fatalities.
According to AfriScout’s Kenya National Representative Brenda Wandera, the clashes have reduced drastically since the communities have now set up grazing committees and drawn up grazing plans.
“Through the app, pastoralists can now move their livestock to areas where the forage has regrown and avoid areas that have been degraded and by doing that pasture will grow in those areas,” said Ms. Wandera in the same interview.
The technology has also been introduced in Ethiopia and Tanzania with early reviews being positive.