Mathenge! Prosopis juliflora in the rangelands

borana photovoice

Facilitated by Tahira Shariff

Prosopis juliflora was introduced in the 1980s near a school in the Cheraab region, the plains in Isiolo around Malka Forest and in Korbesa. P. juliflora spreads fast and even covers the swamp areas used for grazing and watering the animals. It causes a donkey disease locally known as ‘katika’, as well as tooth loss in goats due to too much sugar.
We attended an exchange tour to Baringo as the community representatives. We learnt that we could use mathenge for construction poles, charcoal and preserve the seeds for feed.”

Abdulah Tadicha, member, DRRC, Korbesa

“We cannot cross over there because of the bush, this shrub grows rapidly, every faecal material produced by livestock enhances regrowth. We cannot control it; it has taken over the entire riverbed. People used to have small shamba near the river bed, but they have all been lost to this shrub. Wild animals have infested the place and the government is doing nothing about it. It is destroying our livelihood and now we even have conflict with the wild animals, which we have lived with in peace for ages.”

Isaqo Huqa, Elder, Merti Central

Waso muuk kaanaat keeesaa naam baasaa

(People will be moved out of Waso because of this shrub)

Isaaqo Huqa

“The shrub is causing ‘katika’ disease in  donkeys; once donkeys consume Prosopis seed, they get very sick with stomach disease and some die.”

Abubakar Abdullah, Korbesa.

“When the livestock disappears, it is not easy to recover; the entire area is covered by the thorny ‘mathenge’. We took the flock to a place called Goo’aa near ‘galaan’ (river) to feed on the ‘d’igajii’ shrub, which is not as thorny as ‘mathenge’. The goats dispersed and a lion attacked and killed 84 animals. We kept searching with the help of other herders and only found the carcases; they were not eaten but just killed! It was very disheartening. I went to report to the chief, received a letter and followed it up with the County government. It has been five years since then, and I have never been compensated.”

Ali Saleisa, Merti Resident, February 2020

Cheetah foot-trails near Maarifa (MID-P) Centre in Merti town

What is the fate of the rangelands with the fast-growing Prosopis? Will Isaqo’s prophecy that ‘Waso will be lost to Prosopis’ pass, or will the continued conversation on ‘turning the curse of the Prosopis into a blessing’ win?