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Page last updated at 09:09 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 10:09 UK

Giant herd 'flees Kenya drought'

Cattle in Ethiopia
Farmers are looking for water and grazing for their cattle

A giant herd of cattle has fled from northern Kenya into the Borena zone in Ethiopia to escape a drought, according UN agriculture chiefs.

They say it is one of the largest movements of cattle in 10 years.

Kenya's cabinet is meeting later to discuss the drought, which has seen farmers abandoning their villages in search of water in recent months.

Government measures to allow duty-free maize imports and subsidise fertiliser have failed to help the situation.

Disease risk

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization says the herd numbers more than 200,000.

"Although seasonal migration across the border is normal, this is the largest influx recorded in 10 years," a UN statement said.

"This large influx may potentially result in the spread of livestock diseases, adversely impacting the cattle export market in Ethiopia."

The drought has also hit the country's capacity to generate hydro-electricity and last week electricity rationing was introduced.

In January, President Mwai Kibaki said 10 million Kenyans were facing starvation.

He said this was due to drought and the effects of post-election violence, which forced thousands of farmers from their lands.



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