GALVmed meets… Tabitha Maunder from the women’s goat project

Tabitha lives with her husband and five children in Nzeluni village nearMwingi in Eastern province in Kenya. She was chosen to be theToggenburg buck keeper in the FARM-Africa Kenya Dairy Goat Capacity Building Project.

Her life has changed since becoming involved in the project. Her husband Patrick says, “Now she’s doing well and many people appreciate her. It has also brought recognition for me and I am known for many kilometres through my wife. I enjoy it so much”.

Before the project, Tabitha did not have any goats as she had sold them all to pay for school fees. But as a buck keeper she says, “I benefit through charging fees for using the buck which is 50 KSH [US $0.60] for non-member and 20 KSH[US $0.25] for members”.

Since she got the buck she says that the buck “has serviced 232 local goats” which has earned her a some income as well as benefiting local farmers. “Local people take it very positively” she says “and the offspring of Toggenburg are of more value – around 7000 KSH [US $85] whereas a local goat is 1500 to 2000 KSH [US $18-25]”. She also sells the goat milk and gets up to 2 litres a day and also sells goat manure at 150 KSH [US $1.80] a 50 kilogram bag.

Her income has increased by almost 50 per cent and she earns as much as 700 KSH when it’s a good week. Since the goat project, she has also taken to drinking milk with her tea. “Before I never drank milk” she says.

In addition she has attended several animal training courses so her knowledge of animal health is very much increased – which helps her confidence. Her husband supports her in her endeavours. If she needs more qualified advice on animal health, she gets in touch with Teresa, who lives nearby and who was trained by FARM-Africa (on the same project) to be a community animal health worker (CAHW).

And if Teresa is not able to tackle the problem, she will call Safari Mbui, an animal health assistant, who has a veterinary drugstore nearby with a loan from FARM-Africa. Unless there are dedicated people like Teresa who work within communities, most poor farmers will not have access to animal health care. James Kithuka, FARM-Africa, says that “the level of awareness among farmers in the area has risen and that they are seeking more advice – that must translate into more healthy animals”.

GALVmed meets… MacDonald Munuve, community animal health worker

MacDonald lives in Nzeluni village near Mwingi in Eastern province in Kenya. Trained as a community animal health worker by FARM-Africa, he was given a drug kit, bicycle and mobile phone. He treats and gives advice on animal health to local farmers in his community and these days his business is thriving.

MacDonald has almost 80 clients and earns around KSH 3000 () a month. Not only is he now able to get his basic needs met but he can also afford to build himself and his new wife a larger house as well as employ someone else on his farm.

Since his training, he now helps people in his community with managing their poultry, cows and goats. Joyce Mwanziu, a member of his community, says “What I have learnt from MacDonald is a preventative approach – as a result my animals can fetch a better price in the market if they are in better condition”.

According to James Kithuka, FARM-Africa, Mwingi, “The level of awareness of animal health in farmers is rising – they are seeking more advice – and that must translate into more healthy animals”.

FARM-Africa and community based animal health

Community animal health workers are trained by FARM-Africa in basic animal healthcare to be able to deliver services and drugs to farmers and to provide farmer to farmer training.

A decentralised vaccination and animal health system is important as this enables the community to take care of their own livestock, look for drugs, have their own drug stores and treat the animals themselves” says Joseph Wekundah, Livestock Specialist, BioTechnology Trust Africa.

FARM-Africa has pioneered a ‘three-tier’ animal health system in eastern Africa, and demonstrated that it is financially viable and capable of delivering quality, affordable animal health services, even to poor livestock keepers in remote areas. There is a vet at the top, several veterinary paraprofessionals (animal health assistants) in the middle who have usually received two to three years formal training, and a number of community-based animal health workers (CAHWs) at the grassroots level who have a few weeks basic training.

According to Christie Peacock, CEO FARM-Africa, “There is great potential to replicate this successful system of veterinary service delivery and benefit millions of livestock keepers FARM-Africa is looking at the potential of doing this through a franchised service model. Franchising offers many advantages including economies of scale, high quality standards and tried and tested business management.”

GALVmed sees it as crucial to work with partners such as FARM-Africa whose expertise, commitment to community engagement and local distribution networks for vaccines and animal health; have forged trust and are improving the lives of poor people.

GALVmed meets… Ruben Mushao

Ruben Mushao lives in Mundara village in Longido District, a Maasai area in Tanzania. Since he began vaccinating his calves against East Coast fever, the number of his cows increased from 300 to almost 1000 despite the drought.

East Coast fever has a high mortality rate with cows and the disease is rife in many parts of  Tanzania. If he had not immunised his herd, “I believe the number would have been 300 cows as it had been for past years.

Today, Ruben earns a comfortable income from selling his cows. He owns two houses, a shop in his village that sells everyday household goods, a tractor that he also rents out to other farmers, and a car.  He was also able to send his 28 children to school and university. “My ambition is for my children to go to school and work in the cities and not to depend on cattle.

GALVmed meets… Korleri Thakur from Orissa, India

Newcastle disease and the elephant in the room

Korleri Thakur is a farmer with a jumbo-sized problem. Although   her family has four acres of land and should be able to produce enough food to support the household, the local wild elephants often destroy her crops and sometimes even knock down the hut the family lives in. This makes farmers like Korleri whose villages are located in dense forest (good elephant habitat) highly dependent on livestock and poultry for their livelihoods.

Outbreak of poultry or livestock diseases are dreaded by farmers as these can wipe out months of hard work. Last year, an outbreak of Marudi (Newcastle disease) affected 25 of Korleri’s chickens: only five survived. This experience with poultry disease has, however, made her wiser: her poultry were fully vaccinated during the recent GALVmed-supported community animal health worker training – part of GALVmed’s Newcastle disease pilot programme.

Despite keeping chickens since she was a child, she was not previously aware that timely vaccinations would help save the birds. She is now willing to spend on vaccines and medicine for poultry because she can see it makes economic sense.

Talking about the chickens brings a smile to her face. From those five birds, she has managed to increase the flock to eight. Her poultry and goats contribute food and income to the household. The birds are of the local variety (desi) and scavenge for food all over the village. The fact that the birds do not need to be fed makes Korleri happy as it saves her a lot of effort and money.

Every once in a while a cockerel that survives and grows to maturity is sold for INR 300 (US,$6.5) – a welcome addition to the household income. The cash from her poultry sales is deposited in the Suvakatti (village bank) and she plans to use this to support her children’s education and build another room for her family. She is also very proud when she has guests and can serve them her own chicken for a special meal.

Korleri has a twinkle in her eye when she speaks of the future and a major reason for her optimism comes for her colourful flock of poultry. She is still superstitious by nature and is wary of anyone seeing her birds thinking “someone is casting an evil eye on my poultry”. More importantly, however, the community animal health worker is casting a benign eye over her livestock and has helped her to avoid Newcastle disease in her flock.

Korleri Thakur is from Bayakamotiya village, Mayurbhanj District, in Orissa State, India. She lives with her husband, their four children and her father-in-law.

GALVmed meets… Niranjan Pradhan, and animal health worker from Orissa State, India

Niranjan Pradhan, 26, from Bayakumotiya village,  Keonjhar District, Orissa State, India

Seven years ago high school graduate Niranjan trained as an accountant to assist his self-help group, a role he continued to play for four years. Then PRADAN, an NGO and local partner of GALVmed, asked him to join them as a community animal health worker. He received basic training and since then has been focusing on goats and poultry in three villages.

His work includes vaccinating and de-worming, training villagers on good husbandry practices and following up on their progress. His household has five acres of farmland where they grow rice and keep 10 chickens and 14 goats. This gives him good insight into villagers’ trials and tribulations. The common diseases that he encounters are Newcastle disease, fowl pox, internal and external parasites, peste des petits ruminants and goat pox.

Reviewing what he has learned over the past three years, Niranjan told GALVmed he is trusted in the community because of his previous role in the self-help group. But there is superstition amongst some farmers about modern medicines. Smiling, Niranjan added: “Slowly, even such people have started to trust me when they see evidence of vaccinated animals being healthy, while their own unvaccinated animals fall sick.” His key lesson is that villagers are willing to pay for veterinary services for their livestock as long as they can see the results.

The main constraint, however, is that he cannot provide services and reach everyone who needs his help. The terrain is difficult and there are long distances to travel. He explained: “If there were more community animal health workers available, then the situation would be easier to handle”. Niranjan was initially attracted to the role of a community animal health worker because the money was good. Now, when he sees the results of his work in his community and the faith they have in him, he feels happy and motivated. As he told us: “They respect me, they have faith in me and that gives me great satisfaction.”

Community animal health workers

A cadre of community animal health workers is being developed to deliver services at the doorstep of the backyard poultry keepers. The workers are selected from within the community by the community, receive training and are equipped to provide basic extension services and healthcare to poultry and small ruminants.

The training is being delivered by veterinary professionals hired by PRADAN, which is the NGO GALVmed has selected as its delivery partner for this programme.

Lessons learnt regarding the functioning and sustaining of community animal health workers indicate that a broad-based approach that includes attention to small ruminants along with poultry is required. This both ensures a sufficient income for the worker and makes the service more attractive to the target communities.

The community animal health workers will:

  • Provide affordable and regular healthcare services at the doorstep of the backyard poultry keepers – including timely vaccination.
  • Involve the community and self-help group leaders in the project activities through regular interaction.
  • Act as the link between the backyard poultry keepers and the government veterinary department.
  • Promote the benefits of preventive measures and vaccination for livestock diseases.
  • Support the project staff in organising village meetings/awareness campaigns.
  • Keep records of backyard poultry population, vaccination, disease outbreak, mortality etc. In their respective geographic areas.
  • Report on a weekly basis on the developments and problems at the field level.
  • Participate in the baseline survey.