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Afriscout Launches Satellite Grass Search App For Pastoral Communities

Project Concern International on Thursday launched a revolutionary service for pastoralists to be used for tracing pasture and water using mobile technology.

Christened Afriscout, the satellite technology is a revolutionary in its nature and will help local pastoralist communities during droughts to locate greener pastures across the country.

Other than locating pasture, the app that is installed on the phones will also help locate human/wildlife conflict areas, water and livestock diseases.

Country PCI representative Brenda Wandera told KNU, the launch of the revolutionary service is the first in Kenya.

AfriScout uses community defined, custom grazing maps overlaid with satellite vegetation data that is continuously updated and accessed via mobile phone, said Wandera.

Wandera said after the launch in Kajiado, they move to other pastoral counties of Narok, Marsabit, Laikipia, Garissa, Lodwar, Wajir and Mandera.

“This project was first launched in Ethiopia and Tanzania in Africa and have been very successful in the reduction of livestock diseases and human/wildlife conflicts,” said Wandera before the end of the launch at Enchula Resort in Kajiado town.

Implemented in the three countries, Wandera said, the maps have proven to be highly useful for pastoralists reducing mortality for herds by half, saving time in search of pasture, as well as improving collective pasture management.

Wandera said PCI is concerned that many herders in Kajiado and other parts of the country have lost significant number of their livestock to drought.

“This app that can be easily downloaded with help the communities share ideas in husbandry as well. The pastoralists at house levels will be able to interact and exchange ideas on the availability of pasture in and beyond the counties,” said Wandera.

In Kajiado county Deputy Governor Martin Moshisho, who was the guest of honour, said pastoralists lost thousands of livestock to drought towards the end of last year.

According to Afriscout there between 4-7 pastoralists in Kenya where livestock production accounts for US800 million per year or 40 -45 per cent of total agricultural GDP.

Pastoralists migrate their livestock during dry seasons using traditional methods such as scouting, word of mouth, and indigenous knowledge that have inherent limitations and increasing unreliability due to climate shocks and land use changes.

In response, PCI created satellite, assisted pastoral resource management (SAPRAM) to provide pastoralists with community grazing maps overlaid with current vegetation conditions using satellite imagery.

Pastoralists, government representatives, donors and representatives from Google were in attendance.

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