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ABBATOIR FINDS SMART WAY TO HELP MAASAI HERDERS COPE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

A slaughterhouse has developed a system to turn waste into energy and fertiliser, thus helping Maasai people to face the threat of climate change.

Most Maasai live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, where lately droughts have become more frequent and severe, and have been leaving the population without rain even for a whole year. At the same time, average and extreme temperatures are projected to increase due to climate change, and this will add more pressure to pastoralists, as livestock are particularly vulnerable to heat stress.

To help herders adapt to these changes, a slaughterhouse in Kiserian, outside Nairobi, has recently come out with two innovative ideas of using its waste. The first project turns waste into fertiliser, to help Maasai people restore the grasses that feed their animals. The slaughterhouse’s innovation manager Michael Kibue designed a system of channels and pits that processes the waste into a nitrogen-rich fertiliser, and invited pastoralists to bring grass seeds together with their animals for slaughter: in fact, the seeds grow faster when they’re covered with the fertiliser, and create more food for the animals, which are consequently better-fed and better able to survive hard climate conditions.

The second innovation turns waste into biogas that gets bottled and sold to the community. Being generated from waste, this kind of biogas can be sold at half the price of conventional liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), thus helping herders cut their everyday costs.

Both the fertiliser and biogas innovations boost each animal’s value, and pastoralists can use the money they make thanks to higher selling prices to build up the resources they need to face the droughts.

Still, the slaughterhouse project can only make a small difference in helping the Maasai population across the region, and many also doubt that proposals like these – even if enlarged – will be enough to carry on raising cattle. However, climate projections suggest that by the end of the century rainfalls in East Africa will increase and droughts will be less severe, so these innovations could help pastoralists survive for long enough to benefit from more favourable climate conditions.

 

The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

(Source: RTCC)