Written by Paul Mwangi, field coordinator Turkana county, AVCD livestock component
Among the numerous challenges that pastoralists face in their livestock production systems, animal diseases greatly affect not just their livestock productivity, but also their livelihoods as a whole. While pastoralists may have some knowledge on endemic livestock diseases that they have been exposed to before, in many circumstances their perceptions on the causes of some of the diseases and methods of control are erroneous and detrimental. Huge losses from livestock diseases are incurred due to use of traditional methods of treatment and control, such as removal of lymph nodes, misuse of veterinary drugs and misconceptions about vaccination campaigns.
Quite often and given the nomadic nature of pastoralists systems, there is no convenient access to animal health service providers. Against this backdrop, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with the county governments in the north eastern region of Kenya is working to equip pastoralists with skills on animal disease surveillance. Under the livestock component of the Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) program, ILRI is implementing a three – tier train – a – trainer model to train veterinarians and community disease reporters on the symptoms of prevalent livestock diseases. The objective of this training model is to improve the knowledge base among the value chain actors on the diseases, their symptoms and how they are described at different levels. Using tailored manuals with pictures and illustrations for ease of recognition of these diseases, disease surveillance champions have been trained as trainers and trainers, who in turn have trained more than 1100 livestock keepers in Turkana county.
In addition to building the knowledge base, the three-tier train-a-trainer module will reinforce the existing a surveillance and disease control network involving the county veterinarians, community surveillance champions and the producers and market actors.
This model has also facilitated interaction and linkages between community disease reporters, county government and livestock producers for improved disease surveillance and reporting. In addition, the model is building the capacity livestock producers to demand quality veterinary services.