The Marsabit district in rugged northern Kenya is the size of Ireland. It has ten tribes and seven languages but only 160,000 people. The manager of the local branch of Equity Bank says it takes two crunching days of driving his jeep through burning deserts to reach some of his customers. In colonial days the district was dismissed by the British as a wasteland. People in the capital, Nairobi, 600km (372 miles) away, still think the description fits.
Marsabit depends on cattle, camels, sheep and goats, to be sold or eaten as needs be. But for several reasons—perhaps climate change, certainly population growth—livestock losses have risen in recent years. The district has been hit by four severe droughts since 2000. The one last year killed off a third of domestic animals, a massive loss of capital.
The International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi wants to lessen the damage by offering herders insurance for their animals.
Read more… (The Economist, March 19, 2010)