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Monday, 07 May 2018

Kenya: Herders Turn to Grazing App to Cut Drought Risks

During times of drought, herder Buchu Boru has to walk tens of kilometres in search of pasture for his animals - with no guarantee he will find it. "Somebody tells you by word of mouth that there is pasture but on arriving you don't (find) any," said the 60-year-old, who has had to walk from his home all the way across the Ethiopian border to find grass some years. But next time the rains fail - an increasingly common problem in northern Kenya - he hopes a new mobile phone app will help him move his livestock to fodder without too much cost or waste of time. The Afriscout app, which uses satellite images to identify where there is grass and surface water, "is better than what we are used to", he said. As climate change brings longer droughts and more unpredictable rainfall, herders often need to travel further and to less-well-known areas to find grass and water for their animals.Technology that reduces the uncertainties associated with the journeys can help protect herds and incomes, making families more resilient to the harsher conditions, experts say.Boru and his neighbours normally rely on word-of-mouth to determine where to go, or they phone others in the region, or pay a scout to travel on a pasture-seeking mission. But the hunt is time consuming, and sometimes goes wrong. Boru vividly remembers, during a 2016 drought, traveling five days with his cattle, sheep and goats to Ambalo, 80 kilometres away, where he had heard there was pasture.

Source: Reuters