is not a video entry

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.