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.