The hardy camel is in the spotlight in drought-ravaged northern Kenya – but for one of its lesser known benefits, its milk.
Able to produce milk year round and to endure conditions that would halt the milk production of, or even kill, other livestock, the camel is being touted as a drought-resistant alternative to traditional livestock in the Horn of Africa.
With help from SNV and partners, the Anolei women of Isiolo in northern Kenya have clearly demonstrated that camel milk has the potential not just to help feed families, but to build businesses.
With more than 60 members, the Anolei women's cooperative now purchases and markets milk from local herders, enabling them not only to meet local demand, but to send up to 5,000 litres of milk to Nairobi each day. Many Anolei women are now earning up to 60,000 Kshs (about €560) per month from camel milk, with traders in Isiolo county bringing in more than 19 million Kshs (€176,000 euros) annually from the trade.
But there are more than just financial benefits to this unusual product – with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization rating camel milk as rich in iron, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins, while containing three times as much vitamin C as cow's milk.
Further investment is still needed to establish processing facilities, improve transport systems and strengthen producer and marketing groups to help ensure the new sector grows to meet its full potential, but with the support of SNV and other organisations there is now the hope that camel milk will keep feeding families and reducing poverty in Kenya for generations to come.
Notice: Please click here if you can't see the embedded slideshow above.