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Overview

The Turkana district lies in northwestern Kenya, bordered by Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda. Pastoralism is the main economic activity due to the arid environment. The region is geographically isolated and has a low population density, which makes it challenging and expensive to work with communities. The region has suffered from limited and often inappropriate investment in services, infrastructure, and broader development programmes. As a result, the region is one of Kenya’s poorest and most underdeveloped districts, where some 87 per cent of inhabitants live below the poverty line, and are unable to meet their basic food needs. People are increasingly less able to withstand drought (seasonal rains often fail in Turkana) with more families likely to lose livestock and face destitution. As people adapt their livelihood strategies to these conditions (having smaller herds or remaining sedentary – keeping their animals in one place), greater emphasis needs to be placed on giving direct support to these households. This includes investment in animal health services to improve the resistance of animals to outbreaks of disease and drought, and better access to markets so that households may sell surplus or unproductive animals. A flexible and integrated market infrastructure is vital if pastoralists are to be able to receive an adequate price for their livestock, even in times of drought or widespread animal disease.

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