Innovation story

Meet Shindes Gudere, a livestock keeper in northern Kenya

AICCRA works to scale climate-smart agriculture and climate information services that reach millions of smallholder farmers in Africa. Ahead of COP27, AICCRA teams sat down with some farmers in our focus countries to learn more about them, the challenges and opportunities they are facing, and how climate-smart technologies and information services can help.  

We also asked the farmers if they had a message for world leaders at ‘Africa’s COP’ – COP27.

Meet Shindes Gudere, a goatkeeper from Korr, part of Marsabit county in northern Kenya.

Read other farmer profiles and updates from AICCRA’s work in its six focus countries at our COP27 hub.

Shindes Veronica Gudere was born in Log Logo area in West Marsabit, northern Kenya. She moved to Korr – a pastoralist community when she married. Together with her husband, Gudere keeps goats.

Shindes is also a participant of KAZNET - a micro-tasking platform to be used by pastoralists in rural and remote locations – currently being implemented by AICCRA and SPARC in Kenya.

Marsabit County, where Gudere is located, in is central North Kenya, bordering Ethiopia. With semi-arid climatic conditions, the region is facing ongoing severe drought which is having devastating impacts on the community and their livestock – including goats, camels and sheep – resulting in reduced livelihoods and forced migration.

We asked Shindes: How and why did you become a farmer?

We are livestock keepers. It is natural for members of our community to keep livestock. One can have other activity going on, but still actively keep livestock. I think it is just a normal activity. I am also helping a project by ILRI to collect rangeland data from the community.

Herders, owners and traders gather at Garissa Livestock Market, the largest livestock market in East Africa, located in Garissa town in Northeast Kenya. Photo ILRI/Kabir Dhanji

Have you seen the climate change in your lifetime? Is the weather different? Have seasons changed?

We are experiencing severe drought for four years running. This dry spell is the longest in our lives. None of the people I know here have witnessed this kind of long drought. We used to have rains every April. In fact, in 2018 the rain was so immense it broke the banks of River Malgis blocking our access to the main road that goes to Marsabit. We could not travel for three months. But that was the last time we saw rain.

What are the main challenges you face in farming, or any business you do?

The main challenge I am experiencing is the severe drought. And it is not just me, all of us here in Korr are experiencing it. There is no water for drinking, for cooking, and for giving to my goats.  

We used to keep a bigger herd, but we have been forced to sell some of them to only keep a manageable size herd. I used to get milk from my goats but that has also dried up.  

Sometimes I am supposed to collect [information] for KAZNET, but because of the drought when I go to check on registered households, I don’t find the women that I am supposed to speak with for the data. They would have left to go looking for water in distant places.

Are there new technologies or farming techniques that have really helped you farm? How?

There is no new technology, I’ve just reduced the number of the animals to manage water.

We are receiving some animal feed concentrates from the PACIDA (Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance) organization. The feed is very good for our animals, but it is dry and makes the animals thirstier. But there is no water in Korr, so this strains us, I do not have enough money to buy water every day for myself and for goats.

The KAZNET platform was developed under ILRI’s USAID-funded Accelerated Value Chain Development programme. KAZNET began in 2017 as a pilot programme in six markets in Isiolo and Marsabit counties. A group of pastoralists were assigned a series of tasks which they could carry out whenever it suited them, though it had to be specific to market days. The contributors collected data on the prices of camels, cattle, and goats and sheep; on the volume of livestock; and on the prices of essential commodities such as household goods, milk and staples. The data was recorded on a mobile phone app, which was also used to take photographs of individual animals and the commodities. For each task, contributors were paid a small amount of money.

KAZNET subsequently received support from the Government of Kenya through the World Bank funded (Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project) RPLRP. The scaling of KAZNET is being implemented under AICCRA through World Bank funding and Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises SPARC through FCDO and IDRC funding.

Could you tell us more about your involvement with KAZNET?

A number of farmers have recruited to collect rangeland data and record household nutritional information. Everyone who is participating in this receives an amount of money and this helps us to buy water. They have given me a phone for data collection and small solar powered light that I use at night.  

But the rangeland images we are taking are the same for years now, no change in vegetation.

What are your hopes for the future of your community?

Our major problem is drought, if we got a little rain, there will be relief. So, I only hope for rain soon. The support from KAZNET certainly helps us cope until then.

A pastoralist in Northeast Kenya feeds his goats hay because there is not enough pasture due to ongoing drought. Data gathered from sentinel zones are complementing satellite information gathered under ILRI’s index-based livestock insurance programs. Photo ILRI/Kabir Dhanji

World leaders will meet in Egypt in a few months' time to make commitments that tackle climate change - do you have a message for them?

I would tell world leaders to find a solution for water scarcity for small farmers like myself. The people of Korr, Rendile are some of the wealthiest livestock keepers, but they are suffering, you can find whole villages vacated, people moving around to look for water and pasture. I can say our biggest challenge here is water. Mothers are giving birth in the huts and stay for days without water for drinking or cooking after giving birth. 

I would say to world leaders to prioritize water for us. I wanted to ask that we get a borehole at least, but there were some people here telling us that sinking boreholes will also contribute to climate change. So, I don’t know what the best solution is here. Just help us get water. Even if there is a drought, let us find some water for pastoralists, we will keep livestock at home and ‘zero-graze’ them if we have water, meaning we keep cows in one place and not let them out for free range eating.

Shindes collecting household data in Korr - Marsabit, Kenya for the data crowdsourcing platform KAZNET. Credit: Philemon Chelanga

Read other farmer profiles and updates from AICCRA’s work in its six focus countries at our COP27 hub.