Satellite images trigger payouts for Kenyan farmers in grip of drought

The Kenyan government is scaling up an innovative livestock insurance programme that uses satellite imagery of drought-hit areas to offer a safety net to vulnerable farmers.
Mid-March 2017 December 2015 In the largest payout yet, in February £1.7m was paid to 12,000 pastoralists – an average of nearly £140 per household – to compensate for last season’s drought, which caused the worst forage scarcity in Kenya for 16 years.
With April’s rainy season starting late and predicted to be poor, the Klip programme could bring crucial relief to thousands of families on the brink of hunger.
The programme is modelled on a commercial scheme, the Index-Based Livestock Insurance programme, which was found to have increased milk productivity and reduced indicators of malnutrition for those who had it.
With poor rains predicted again this spring, the UN projected in March that this figure would reach 4 million by this month.
Near the Ethiopian border, residents of Dabele village say they have lost 40% of their livestock.
Some herders are feeding them cardboard soaked in water just to fill their bellies.
“It’s the worst drought we’ve ever seen,” says Hussain Fofle, conferring with tribal elders who watch over the village well.
“There’s nowhere to go.” Fatouma Diba, 25, says her family of seven is surviving on payments from the UK government’s hunger safety net programme and the little money her husband makes selling firewood.
“We can’t eat every day.” Diba is eight months pregnant.

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