Traditional street theatre is being staged in Orissa, India to share key messages about the relevance to local communities of Newcastle Disease (known locally as Marudi), Peste de Petits Ruminants (PPR) and interventions available to tackle these diseases.
PRADAN, the experienced implementing partner for GALVmed’s Newcastle Disease pilot project recognises street theatre as a culturally appropriate means of communication, reflection and learning which gains enthusiastic community involvement. Swadheen Pattanaik, Executive (Projects), PRADAN, Keonjhar explains:
“This form of street play is embedded in the tribal culture and has religious connotations which give it high acceptance and serious viewership in the target villages. During the event, villagers come to seek blessings from the singers/actors of the street play by washing their feet with water…”
The aims of this participative approach are to create awareness amongst farmers of the Newcastle Disease (ND) Project, which seeks to deliver ND vaccine at their doorsteps through CAHWs at small fees to check mortality due to ND in Poultry and PPR in goats. The theatre explains through audience interaction the potential financial benefits of vaccinating their birds and to reflect on ways of making this sustainable in their area.
GALVmed’s Programme Manager for South Asia, Dr. Mamta Dhawan comments:
GALVmed recognises the importance of collaborative working in this region and the strengths of experienced implementing partners such as PRADAN. It is essential that we take cognizance of local traditions and cultural nuances and these street theatre workshops are an example of the way in which we are committed to listening to Farmers and our partners. In raising awareness in Orissa amongst livestock keepers of the positive impact that vaccines for Newcastle Disease and PPR can have on their livelihood, GALVmed is seeking to make a sustainable contribution to the lives of individuals, families and communities, protecting livestock, saving human life.
The focus of the street theatre campaign is on:
· The importance of livestock in the area as the major source of livelihood for most of the families
· Reiterate major reason for existing mortality in livestock – mainly ND in poultry and PPR in goats
· symptoms of ND and PPR
· potential financial benefits to the community if these major diseases could be brought under control (Poultry birds- 220 to 250 USD per flock and goats- Rs 400 to 500 USD per flock per annum)
· importance of de worming and vaccination (expressed through the analogue of Polio in human beings) and its low cost
· importance of cold chain (refrigeration)
Through a series of songs interspersed with dialogue explains how vaccinations and de-worming operations would be carried out by the Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) in all panchayat. The farmers are made aware that there would be 2-3 trained CAHWs at panchayat (local governance unit at the village level) and Village Resource Persons (mostly women) selected from existing village Self Help Groups (SHGs). The functions of CAHW and VRPS were explained through comparison with individuals already operating in the Human Health sector called ASHA didi. Keeping long-term sustainability of this intervention, it was explained that a block level co-operative will be formed to look after of this project. The play closes, as it had begun, with a devotional song.