The services of community animal health workers (CAHWs) is making a difference in livestock health
Ahmed Mohammed Sirad, 58, lives in Galmarodi Village in Fafan Zone of the Ethiopian Somali Region. Ahmed owns 50 cattle and five camels. His livelihood, like his ancestors, has always depended on livestock for as long as he remembers. The more animals he has the better off he and his family are. Drought and animal diseases are the two worst tragedies that could happen to him and his community.
Drought is still a problem, but animal health issues are changing for the better. Talking about the animal health situation a few years ago, Ahmed says, “Our lives were uncertain.” Pastoralists did not have control over their animals’ health. The latest tragedy he remembers happened about five years ago when he lost three cattle (estimated at about 23,000 birr) to diarrhea. In those days, a lot of his community members lost livestock to various diseases. Ahmed says, “There was nothing we could do about the diseases. We just had to look on our animals die. It’s so heartbreaking.” Diseases did not only claim the lives of animals but also undermined their productivity, resulting in less milk and meat. Ahmed and family did not have enough to eat. All that has changed thanks to the start of animal health services by community health workers (CAHWs).
In an effort to build resilience among pastoralist communities through strengthening animal health services, Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion project (USAID-PRIME) has been working with government, the private sector and FAO to improve the animal health services in the Ethiopian Somali Region. Among other things, the project is facilitating technical training to community animal health workers (CAHWs). In the Eastern Cluster, PRIME delivered a ten-day training of trainers (TOT) to 19 government health officials so that they can cascade the training to community animal health workers (CAHWs). Based on the National Minimum Standard Guideline, the training was focused on diagnosing animal diseases, community mobilization, adult learning, livestock disease incidence, morbidity and mortality, and sustainable community animal health. Since then, the TOT trainees cascaded the training to about 150 CAHWs in two rounds. The start of the animal health service delivery at the grassroots level is beginning to bear fruits.
According to Ahmed, pastoralists who take their sick animals to CAHWs and get the necessary vaccination do not lose any animal to diseases any more. “CAHWs are not only keeping animals alive, but also making them healthier and more productive. Families are getting more milk, more meat and more money. Ahmed, his family and community are better off. “My children drink more milk,” says Ahmed. He continues to narrate his story happily, “Today, I have more and healthier livestock and I can afford to sell some so that I can buy fodder for my animals and more food for my children. My children are eating pasta and sugar.” In all, Ahmed and his community are better prepared to weather the storm in case of droughts or other emergencies. “In case of drought, we can sell older animals,” points out Ahmed confidently.
The 150 CAHWs trained in this intervention are serving 1200 to 1500 in twenty woredas. The services they provide are improving the health of animals in these villages, raising the average income, nutritional status and lives of households.