Darfur: improving animal health
The ICRC has launched an animal vaccination programme in the conflict-torn Sudanese province of Darfur to try to sustain the livelihood of people in isolated areas. The campaign forms part of a wider plan to improve livestock management.
The campaign began towards the end of July. The logistical challenges were greatly increased by the early arrival of the rainy season which meant that animals had to be reached in their grazing areas.
Villages in the area were grouped in five clusters and two phases of activity were planned.
First, the ICRC teams visited each of the proposed vaccination stations to explain their infrastructure needs. Fences had to be erected for goats and cattle crushes. A restricted area had to be prepared for camels with restraining ropes to limit movement during the vaccination process.
Then, the campaign got under way. Vaccination teams remained at least three days in each village to allow for any late arrivals at the designated points and ensure that as many herds as possible were treated. It took six weeks to reach all of the targeted animals. Local communities showed enormous hospitality and gratitude throughout – in particular the women, often in charge of domestic animals.
Livestock is at the heart of the fragile economy in Darfur and vaccination remains a high priority for most pastoral communities. The ICRC plans to replicate the Dar Zaghawa programme in other regions in 2006 – including two more in North Darfur where the need is greatest.
Building Rural Health Infrastructure
The ICRC is organizing basic training to help rural communities manage the health of their livestock. The Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries and local leaders identify suitable candidates; the ICRC recruits the students, funds the workshops and provides the transport to reach remote areas, many of which are affected by the ongoing conflict.
The trainees are given a basic knowledge of common diseases affecting herds and how to treat them. On completing the course, the ICRC provides a starter kit of medicines and instruments to carry out the work.
Some 120 people, including four women, attended the first three training courses organized in 2005. A further six are planned for 2006, as well as a more advanced three-month course for animal health workers.
The programme goal is to supplement the capacity and knowledge of the few experienced animal health professionals in the region and enable the setting-up of much needed veterinarian clinics in remote, rural areas.