Two Views from Kenya

Two Views from Kenya

Herd instinct

Not long after Brighter Green’s paper on China and factory farming was completed, I was in Kenya, from which I offer this news and view. Kenya does have some intensive poultry facilities, mostly to supply the growing number of Western-style supermarkets and the hotel trade, and some increasingly intensive dairy operations. But most of Kenya’s hoofed animals raised for food are still free-range. Nonetheless, ecological effects are far from invisible.

When I was in Kenya, the leading daily newspaper was reporting on rising beef prices due to slaughterhouses in or near Nairobi spewing untreated wastes into local rivers, fouling the water. The government was cracking down, slaughterhouses were forced to shutter their doors, and costs of beef, due to the contraction, were going up, to about $3.50 for a kilogram (2.2 pounds). Not cheap, but neither is clean water.

The newspaper’s investigation found:

. . . one of the slaughterhouses was discharging raw waste into Kiserian river and its staff handled meat in unhygienic conditions. The staff also did not wear overcoats and gumboots. The slaughterhouses lacked cloakrooms [rest rooms].

Another recent, sort of related, piece of news from Kenya also intrigued me. Maasai herdsmen in Kajiado District, not far from Nairobi, are using a traditional, external contraceptive device, known as an “olor” to keep their goats from reproducing. Fearing yet another drought and the drought-like conditions they’ve been experiencing, they want to keep livestock numbers down (an adaptive strategy). For the record, it’s only the male goats who have to wear the olor, described as something like an apron. Read more (and see photos) here.