The assessment by CHC found that the most important factor influencing food security of households was milk availability therefore protecting the milk production (availability, access and utilization) is the primary objective of the project as it will contribute to food security and nutrition security of the family. Developing models to support animal health production and a surge response in activities is essential for maintaining food security of pastoralists during drought periods.
Pastoralist societies in Northern Kenya are facing more and more constraints from climatic changes to land loss, dislocation and population growth. The increased frequency of drought with consecutive seasons of failed rains over the past 5 years has had devastating effects on the pastoral communities living in the arid and semi arid lands of Northern Kenya. In response to disaster preparedness, response and coping mechanisms being at low capacity among community and government departments, CHC worked with Concern to review and advise their livestock surge model concept, developed as an early response mechanism for the pastoralist based livestock sector in Marsabit, and initial pilot activities. There is a danger that adapting the CMAM model used for nutrition will produce an unrealistic over-reliance on government service providers which are not as well functioning for livestock services as they are health and nutrition. Therefore CHC emphasises the need for a hybrid system which integrates the public, private and community-based service delivery systems and functions as an internal, system-based model focusing on women at household level rather than external support.
A holistic approach was taken with three distinct (and potentially separate) surge models:
- Surge capacity mechanism within veterinary services to respond to spikes in livestock disease (outbreaks) and provide prophylactic treatment at onset of a stress periods
- Phased (scaled up) livestock interventions at household level to protect milk production and access during stress periods
- Surge mechanism for sequenced, integrated (water, range management, livestock production, conflict resolution) interventions to protect livestock assets and/or provide immediate benefits from livestock resources (offtake).
There are still deliberations to be made around the scale of the models. Would it be more beneficial to start small scale and scale up once the model is functioning or embed the surge model in the system-strengthening approach? Is the surge model a response mechanism or built into the system? Ideally to achieve the objective of protecting milk availability at the household level the action should start with small-scale action at a household level. The surge model should aim to trigger a system of support services to individual women managing milking herds.