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Chapter 4 Improving national animal-health policies and delivery systems


The worldwide resurgence of many serious infectious livestock diseases and VPH problems has been clearly demonstrated in earlier chapters; this trend is likely to continue in the future. There is in addition the challenge of new diseases and new manifestations of existing diseases through changing epidemiological circumstances, livestock husbandry and trading patterns. Although this poses a major challenge for all countries, developing countries are particularly vulnerable. The livelihoods and health of poor livestock farmers and farming communities in such countries are under severe threat.

Endemic, production-limiting diseases are continually present. They are less dramatic but tend to make livestock raisers vulnerable to external shocks, which keeps them in poverty. Diseases and conditions such as high neonatal mortality, suboptimal birth rates, mastitis and the like reinforce the vicious circle of poverty, because livestock assets do not grow and products for home consumption or sale are not harvested. VPH programmes are often absent in rural areas. Rural dwellers are at high risk for zoonotic diseases because of their close contact with livestock or domestic animals. The rates of brucellosis, hydatid disease and other intestinal parasitic diseases in certain rural populations are the highest of any.

At the same time, the capabilities and resources of many countries to meet these animal-disease and VPH challenges are being constantly eroded. This is exacerbating the situation and maintaining poverty by keeping livestock raisers vulnerable to external shocks such as drought, flood or civil disturbance.

This chapter explores ways in which animal-health policies and delivery systems may be strengthened to provide a better outcome for all livestock sectors, from commercial farmers to subsistence and marginalized farmers.


Because of competition for limited financial and other public resources, there are strong pressures for rationalization, devolution, decentralization and privatization of animal-health services in many countries. This is inevitable and does not necessarily mean that available veterinary services to livestock farmers or animal-health status are seriously compromised - providing the process is progressive and effectively managed. There is no single formula that will suit the particular circumstances of all countries.

As a prelude to this planning, countries need to review the public and private components of their animal-health services. Although this will vary according to circumstances, some principles are probably universal.

It is argued that the public end of the spectrum should focus on two elements. The first is prevention, control or eradication of major epidemic livestock diseases, which have the potential to affect the national economy through high production losses, losses in export trade or food insecurity at a national level. Individual farmers, particularly poor and marginalized farmers and private animal-health providers are relatively powerless to protect themselves from these diseases, which require a national or even international approach for their control. The second element is zoonotic diseases and other VPH and food-safety issues that could cause substantial public-health concerns in communities.

At the private end of the spectrum are the more endemic diseases - internal and external parasites and reproductive disorders - for which control is mainly of benefit to individual farmers.

Between these extremes, there is a continuum of diseases and animal-health concerns with varying public and private attributes. Brucellosis, for example, is a classic zoonotic disease with high infection rates in rural populations. It frequently affects whole families in a short time, causing severe disability and family crisis, because most of the wage earners will be sick simultaneously. If medical treatment is sought or available, the disease results in significant economic loss to individuals and countries. There is a clearly recognized public good in controlling this disease in livestock, the only source of infection for humans. Brucellosis species cause abortion and decreased lactation in female cattle or small ruminants, so prevention is clearly a private good for livestock owners. Both individual owners and the public sector could have obligations to pay the costs of controlling this disease; assessment is a matter for countries to decide in consultation with stakeholders.

Strict separation of tasks or services into private or public is not necessarily easy or useful. What is important is that nationally agreed disease-control tasks are carried out in a sustainable manner. Sustainability often means that individual owners, through cost recovery, and the public sector will pay for disease-control programmes. Countries must decide on the correct balance between public and private good for their own circumstances and plan allocation of resources and delivery of services accordingly.


National policies are needed to determine the core functions for their public-sector animal-health services. These may vary from country to country, but the following are generally regarded as core activities:

It does not necessarily follow that delivery of tasks or services related to agreed core functions cannot be devolved. This may be part of a managed devolution or privatization process. Nevertheless, ultimate responsibility for policy formulation and obtaining favourable results cannot be abrogated, and should remain in the hands of the national or public-sector animal-health services.


In the modern environment in developed and developing countries, where there may be devolution, regionalization, privatization and other fragmentation of animal-health responsibility and delivery, the operating systems of national animal-health services will need to change to give more emphasis to the points listed below.

Consultation and a client-oriented approach

The clients of national animal-health services include livestock owners and consumers of livestock products. Formal and informal consultative mechanisms to assist planning, policy formulation and animal-health programme delivery will be important in national animal-health services and between the services, clients and other stakeholders. The latter would include private-sector animal-health service providers and representatives of livestock-producer organizations, exporters and traders.

In the context of pro-poor development, it is vital that there be an outreach of the consultative process to include poor and or marginalized livestock-farming communities, so that their concerns and needs can be addressed.

There is increasing evidence that improving access by poor farmers to animal-health services will improve their livelihoods. Analysis of means to bring about development in rural areas over the last two decades has seen a gradual trend toward direct involvement of farmers in the process. Farmer participation is an essential ingredient to the development process. The degree of farmer involvement is an important factor in determining long-term sustainability: improved results are obtained when farmers are encouraged to record, measure, discuss and analyse their existing situation and raise problems.

Successful community-based animal-health approaches in Africa have aimed to:

Analysis of rural-development programmes indicates that forms of community participation such as empowerment and self-mobilization are required for sustainable change (Pretty, 1995). But what do “community participation” and “self-mobilization” really mean? Reviews of community participation in animal-health initiatives have demonstrated mixed interpretations and uses of community participation on the part of animal-health professionals (Catley and Leyland, 2001). This implies that increased awareness and training in participatory development are required for those veterinary professionals who determine how programmes for poor farmers are designed and implemented. This is arguably one of the first methods to be applied when shifting major institutions towards more pro-poor behaviours and norms.

People-oriented approaches to development of pro-poor veterinary services are time-consuming and require significant levels of commitment. There is no fast-track solution to development in poor rural communities: an integrated approach will often make the results more durable but will require more time and organization. It is noticeable that even small-scale integrated rural-development programmes in pastoral areas, such as those developed by Oxfam in Kenya and ActionAid in Somalia have identified nine- to ten-year timeframes.

It is usual for any community to prioritize problems that threaten livelihoods. Whilst developing solutions to priority problems, issues that are not perceived as major needs can be addressed. In a pastoral community, animal health is commonly the standpoint for studying issues such as local capacity building, conflict resolution, human health, shared use of range resources, land-tenure issues and improvement of livestock marketing. In a more agronomy-oriented system, livestock issues are likely to be secondary. Recognition of these local priorities is a fundamental principle that will significantly influence the methodology used to develop animal-health services, livestock extension services and adoption of livestock programmes.

Work at farmer level is one end of a continuum when it comes to development of livestock or agricultural sector policy. The client-oriented approach outlined in the previous chapter is used to varying degrees by the organizations working in the sector. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) tend to adopt a more participatory approach to development, though there are considerable variations between organizations. Government departments, international agencies and research institutions are less participatory. It is the government ministries that will, at the end of the day, set national policy. By making livestock policy-makers more client-oriented the chances of fostering effective national animal-health services that are inclusive of all livestock producers and farming systems is more likely.

How is it possible to make policy-makers more client-oriented? This almost certainly requires reorientation of government and international agencies, which influence international or global norms and behaviour. The first step, therefore, is to change the approach and attitudes of agencies such as FAO. One example of an institutional learning and change process is summarized in Figure 4 (Thompson, 1998). Working through the five stages of the cycle can lead to improved, more participatory practices throughout an agency. Crucial stages and processes are initial recognition at senior level of the need for change and innovation, followed by training and learning, again at senior level. Although fundamental, these stages can be problematic. How often, for example, do senior managers or technical advisers invest time and effort in critical self-reflection and training? A common response is: “But we are the international experts - we don’t need training!” Unless attitudes and approaches change at an individual level, meaningful institutional change is unlikely to occur.

At national level, experiences from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are indications that policy reform to support improved animal-health services is possible. The first requirement is for policy-makers to be open to the views of stakeholders within the livestock sector - a broad range of farmers, farmer’s groups, public and private service providers, regulators and researchers. This can be achieved through a process of stakeholder analysis and consultation, exposure to the problems of poor farmers and fact-finding missions to client-oriented institutions. Such exposure could be used as a catalyst for change in relevant government departments.

If carried out thoroughly and with conviction, stakeholder analysis will get to the root of many problems and allow policy-makers to see issues from several angles. Policy priorities and practical solutions can be developed through dialogue. Stakeholder analysis can, for example, readily explore issues such as those affecting sub-Saharan Africa - for instance, how can the veterinary profession regain the initiative in delivery of veterinary services? What are the policies preventing such a development? The solution to a combination of poor livestock marketing, inappropriate training, poor understanding of the roles of public and private sectors and lack of credit all require policy change and updated legislation. Is it possible to modify the hierarchical, top-down approach of line ministries in such a way that they become more responsive to needs and more transparent and flexible while retaining their important regulatory and monitoring mandates?

Although important policy reform initiatives to improve animal-health services are underway in Indonesia, Nepal, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, it is too early to say how new policies will impact on the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers. As new policies and legislation emerge and are enacted, monitoring and evaluation will be required to determine if and how policy reforms have borne fruit. Although substantial progress has been made in a sector notorious for its conservatism and resistance to change, reform has been heavily dominated by the voices of professionals, academics and donors. The involvement of poor livestock keepers can often be defined as consultation, answering questions rather than participating actively. Unless poor people are genuinely empowered to take a central role in the policy-reform process, new policies may not lead to sustained benefits for the poor.

FIGURE 4 The institutional learning process and training cycle (Thompson, 1998).

Quality assurance

It will become increasingly important for government animal-health services to act as quality-assurance agents. This is to ensure that agreed core activities are properly carried out at all levels and in all areas of the country and to ensure that farmers and consumers are receiving the type of veterinary support they need.

The quality-assurance function should be underpinned by development of standard operating procedures and performance indicators. There needs to be a system of monitoring and evaluation to ensure that performance indicators are being met, irrespective of whether deliverers are in the public or private sector.

Quality assurance will involve coordination, support and training throughout public and private animal-health sectors at professional and para-professional levels. In many instances, NGOs may be the major link with poor and marginalized farming communities; it is therefore important that they be fully included.

Epidemiological focus and capabilities

The government animal-health service is likely to be the only organization in a position to make well informed, overall epidemiological analyses of the evolution of animal diseases in the country and to monitor the effectiveness of national disease-control and eradication campaigns. It is therefore important that it should have a strong epidemiological base, including maintenance of a good early-warning system for diseases, based on surveillance and reporting, and a central epidemiological unit capable of carrying out in-depth epidemiological analyses, risk analyses and risk-management strategy definitions.

Investigation of disease outbreaks is a prime support service to community-based and central veterinarian planners. Community-based veterinarians need early confirmation of clinical diagnoses in order to increase their knowledge and competence, so that they can provide better service to individual clients and national authorities. National authorities urgently require reliable disease information in order to make decisions for emergency reaction or control.

Emergency disease management

Devolution, regionalization and privatization of animal-health services can be made to work well in most circumstances, given goodwill on all sides. But when there is a major disease emergency, say through the introduction of a serious epidemic disease to a country or region, there is a need for quick decisions and rapid response to minimize the spread of disease and its severe socioeconomic consequences. Mechanisms should be in place for emergency powers that will allow for a command-structure response by national animal-health services, so that a quicker and more effective response can be assured.

Public awareness

Developing public awareness will become an increasingly important function for national animal-health services. An essential component for the success of any major livestock-disease control or eradication effort is an effective, broadly based public awareness programme. It must be directed at all levels of the public - producers, consumers, traders, transporters, processors, wholesalers, retailers and travellers, and it must include decision-makers from all levels of government, private industry and livestock organizations.

The programme should aim to provide credible, accurate information in a form that is readily understandable and immediately useful. Such programmes need to be undertaken by professionals in the field, who will package technical information provided by veterinarians.

Market research must be undertaken to identify the media to be used (print, radio, television or theatre) for each audience. The preferred medium for one is often not applicable to another. For example, early-morning radio was useful for School-of-the-Air programmes for smallholder livestock owners in rural parts of Asia, where many recipients were illiterate and had no access to television but all had transistor radios; live plays were useful in remote mountain regions where radio reception was poor or irregular. At the other extreme, busy decision-makers need concise, quantitative, cost-oriented scenarios to make informed judgements.

Information must be accurate, factual and timely. High-quality photographs and film for television should be produced and made available. Subject matter should be provided by the disease-control agencies but should be packaged by communication specialists.


Recent economic theory endeavours to establish incentives for carrying out socially and individually desirable tasks. The new institutional economics and the restructuring of animal-health services have been applied by Professor David Leonard and colleagues to human and veterinary medicine in the African context. The lessons learned are applicable to delivering public and private veterinary services in many countries.

One lesson is that demands for vector and helminth control, curative treatment and preventive vaccination are not as price-sensitive as has been suspected. If clients perceive benefits, they demand the services and are willing to pay for them. Rates of vaccination against rinderpest in East and West Africa did not fall when livestock owners had to pay. On the other hand, meat inspection and livestock-movement restriction for animal disease control are viewed negatively by Ugandan herders no matter who pays, because no direct return is provided from these services. The accessibility of veterinary services is a determining factor in demand, even when quality is less than optimum. Veterinary auxiliaries, community animal-health workers and traditional healers are in demand for some services, which livestock owners perceive as well delivered and beneficial, and these providers are close at hand.

Transport costs of service delivery are quite high for livestock owners notifying providers of the need for assistance or bringing animals to veterinarians and for providers travelling to reach animals. In Kenya it was found that over half the business of private animal-health providers came from services requested once they were in the neighbourhood of the first caller. There is scope for reducing transport costs by modest payment to enable delivery of a public service that provides private goods and services at the same time. Similarly, sharing of service-delivery costs among sectors needs to be more fully developed in order to reduce overall costs.


Extensive pastoral areas

Development needs of rural, poor and marginalized farmers. Rural populations, livestock owners and others require access to a range of services in order to enjoy reasonable livelihoods. These services include human healthcare, education, light and heat, roads, veterinary and agricultural extension services, personal and livelihood-related inputs and radio or television communication. In developing countries, rural populations generally have access to these services in proportion to their proximity to major cities. Even in North America, rural farm families have had easy access to affordable electricity for home and farm use only since the 1930s or within three generations. They still do not enjoy the quality of human healthcare available in large metropolitan areas.

Provision of many of these needs over wide areas will require major expenditure on infrastructure. Some “softer” services, however, such as animal health, primary human healthcare and extension, are human resource- and mobility-intensive. A cadre of educated staff and the mobility to bring services to rural populations are required. Developing countries generally have a large number of university-educated veterinarians, agriculturists, primary care nurses and veterinary auxiliaries. Operating finances are certainly not in surplus in any country these days.

In order to reduce poverty and increase services for rural inhabitants in developing countries, it is necessary to consider innovative ideas and policies that recognize available resources and build on existing rural institutions.

It will take much more than technology to change extensive livestock-raising and other societies. It is suggested that the framework for change in extensive pastoral populations should include:

Why animal-health services are a key entry point for improving rural livelihoods. Veterinary science can be the only effective vehicle for facilitating outreach of services, two-way communication and service delivery in extensive rural communities within the above framework. Veterinarians have for many years been posted in rural areas, particularly in Africa, and have worked in close contact with the remotest rural populations. District and provincial veterinary officers have constituted the largest pool of university-educated human resources in the agricultural sciences and in rural areas of many countries. This is partly because veterinarians, in collaboration with auxiliaries and private practitioners, deliver disease-prevention services of recognized value to livestock owners and partly because the roots of western veterinary medicine are rural and have historically dealt with farm animals and horses. Veterinarians have not required large specialist facilities, which can only be located in areas of high population density, in order to work. They do not require rural people to come to them for services, but take services to farms, and they offer continuing services.

More recently, water projects and emergency-relief agencies, acting through development projects or as NGOs, have been occasional visitors in rural areas. But these visits are infrequent, even one-off in the case of borehole drilling, or by nature temporary, as in the case of emergency food aid. These outreach services suffer from the same lack of mobility as veterinary and human health services.

Veterinarians and the services they have historically provided are more available, more sought after, more valued and more visible in extensive rural areas - key advantages for veterinary services to deliver an array of social and livestock-related services to reduce poverty and enhance the livelihoods of poor livestock owners. There are recognized constraints to continuing delivery of services, mainly finances for mobility, which veterinary personnel have to accept. But there are policy changes, based on practical experience in Africa and services in North America, which could alleviate many of these delivery constraints. We will return to these key points later.

Why should veterinary services be considered a vehicle for reducing poverty among extensive rural livestock owners? The conventional wisdom is that for livestock owners to prosper there is a need to control economically disruptive and development-inhibiting diseases. These are the killing plagues of all species which, if not prevented, lead to periodic depopulation of herds and flocks. Many of the present and emerging plagues were mentioned in Chapter 2. Conventional wisdom regarding priorities in controlling these plagues still seems valid if livestock owners are even to maintain subsistence-level livelihoods and not become poverty-stricken. The debate is not so much about the need to control these diseases but about how to get it done.

An immediate priority for enhancing livelihoods is control and prevention of zoonotic diseases. Animal-transmitted diseases such as rabies, hydatid disease, brucellosis, salmonellosis and over 200 others attack villagers, crop raisers and livestock owners in rural areas. Urban dwellers are not immune to most zoonotic diseases. Veterinary science is, therefore, pivotal for control of many zoonotic diseases. Human livelihoods cannot be improved without access to healthcare and reduction in the pressure of preventable zoonotic and other diseases.

A close follow-on and terribly neglected priority is a package of research, extension and delivery of services to control non-infectious and production diseases in livestock. Transferring technologies to enhance reproductive efficiency, reduce neonatal mortality, control internal and external parasites and improve livestock genetically have historically been keys to creating rural wealth in developed countries. We recognize that policies on subsidies, marketing, taxation and water prices have all had a major role in creating rural wealth in developed countries. The potential to improve rural livelihoods through pro-poor policies in developing countries is clearly recognized. Effective policies are critical for reducing poverty. Delivering services to prevent livestock plagues and improve human health, followed by asset-building technologies seem unavoidable steps to creating wealth - thereby reducing poverty - and improving livelihoods for rural livestock owners.

In short, what is advocated for improving policies and delivery of animal-health services to help poor or marginalized livestock-farming communities has two components. First, there is a need for an information-based infrastructure, and second a system to deliver policy-based services to rural livestock owners. Providing an action arm to deliver services that complement pro-poor policies seems to be a logical process that should lead to reduced rural poverty and improved livelihoods. The appropriate action arm is intersectoral but based on an information-based, mobile veterinary service and on fine-tuning of existing social institutions.

Need for intersectoral cooperation for service delivery. Other services can be based on the demand for and delivery of veterinary services to even the remotest rural livestock owners; an example is intersectoral cooperation among veterinary and human health service providers. Southern Sudan is a model for this cooperation in which cold-chain facilities, staff, transport-repair shops and laboratory facilities are shared by human and veterinary service providers. A subsequent step is to cross-train veterinarians and primary healthcare nurses to deliver basic animal and human healthcare services.

Only policies, and a few attitudes, need to be changed for this cooperation to be favourably appraised and adopted. The pragmatic appeal of the concept is that operational costs are shared among government agencies, so mobility of all providers is enhanced to the point where rural residents will actually have improved access to the services they require. It follows that services and inputs for boreholes, official documents, limited restocking of supplies such as vaccines, printer cartridges and essential spares and a range of extension activities from livestock to household nutrition and sanitation could be provided to more remote areas. It is feasible to envisage that this lateral thinking would link essential services to local demands of rural livestock owners.

The other essential is to assure delivery of information-based services, for example delivery of preventative animal and human vaccinations or treatment services based on where diseases are actually occurring or likely to move. This is epidemiological decision-making, which best exploits scarce resources. The WHO-led smallpox eradication programme and the EMPRES programme for rinderpest eradication realized that locating disease and applying immediate local measures were the keys to elimination. Mass vaccination against both diseases is not the method of choice for eradication of either clinical disease or viruses.

For enlightened policies to be formulated, particularly if they are to take into account stakeholders in extensive rural areas, social, technical and other information needs to be communicated from rural areas. Attention to cultural sensitivities is likewise essential if stakeholders are to adopt policy changes.

A classic example is drought-monitoring information. Sporadic current information on forage quality, livestock condition, water supplies, market prices and local awareness could all be useful inputs to drought response and food-aid interventions. This information needs to be gathered consistently and analysed centrally in order to plan for mitigation. It is not foreseen that separate government management of ranges, water resources and famine-relief agencies could be financially viable to ensure mobility even to gather this information, much less act on it in advance. The financial rationale for intersectoral cooperation is therefore evident.

For information-based, intersectoral cooperation to become a mode of development, policies and attitudes need to be changed at central and local levels. These social changes will be harder in some countries than others. Nonetheless, there are examples where such collaboration has taken place.

Mixed-farming systems

Mixed farming. The majority of rural, poor and marginalized farmers in Asia operate various mixed-farming systems in which livestock are few, diversified in species and make an integral but not exclusive contribution to the farmer’s wellbeing. It is not unusual for an individual to own or manage six to ten chickens, a small pond with 40-50 fish, two or three sows (in non-Islamic countries), two or three small ruminants, usually goats for meat and milk, and one or two large ruminants such as cattle or buffalo for draught power, manure and capital for emergency financial requirements, while also working a typically 0.5 ha rice field, a vegetable garden and some fruit trees. Management and care of the livestock is often the responsibility of the women and children in the villages. They usually establish strong community groups, allowing for effective communication on animal-health extension activities, and tend not to travel or trade far from their own villages.

BOX 11

Examples of animal-health services delivery in extensive rural areas.

Operation Lifeline Sudan animal-health service model

This has been an example where effective animal-health services, including rinderpest control, have been provided in an area with a long history of civil strife and minimal resources. The innovative community animal-health approach has emphasized regular community dialogue using participatory rural appraisal techniques: training programmes for livestock herders and community animal-health workers, capacity building based on existing social structures and judicious privatization with some built-in incentives.

Animal-health measures bring about market accessibility - the example of Namibia

Namibia is a southern African country with a strong involvement in meat export. Most exports go to South Africa and to the European Union. Differences in animal-health status in various parts of the country, however, meant that many Namibian livestock farmers were excluded from marketing opportunities. The northern part of the country, infected with CBPP and constantly at risk of FMD, was cut off in terms of marketing: an impermeable veterinary cordon prevented movement of livestock and livestock products to the rest of the country.

To address this need, the government put in place measures to improve animal health north of the veterinary cordon. These included:

  • erection of quarantine camps for small ruminants at strategic points near the cordon, where sheep and goats could be quarantined and checked before movement to farms south of the cordon;
  • construction of quarantine camps near abattoirs north of the cordon, together with some abattoir upgrading, to allow slaughter of cattle after three weeks’ observation, primarily for FMD, with subsequent movement of beef to areas south of the cordon;
  • improved surveillance and health-service delivery, including farmer education, in areas north of the veterinary cordon.

The results of these improvements were quite dramatic. Settlements at Khowarib and Sesfontein - remote, poverty-stricken parts of the country - began to experience cash inflows for the first time, providing a valuable stimulus to the local economy. This was largely thanks to the regular sale of valuable Damara sheep from the area.

Within two years of the opening up of some hitherto no-go areas for marketing, some areas populated by traditional herders had pushed their annual market offtake from zero to nearly 7 percent. Throughput at a major abattoir in the north of the country increased from only a few hundred cattle per year to around 18 000.

Animal-health measures aimed at turning local livestock into a readily marketable commodity succeeded, creating a new source of wealth in impoverished parts of the country.

The Afghanistan experience

The major constraints to livestock production in Afghanistan are insufficient control of endemic production-limiting diseases, periodic occurrence of acute, infectious epidemic diseases and insufficient forage preservation for use during the winter. To improve livestock health and production, a basic community-based veterinary service was established in the 1990s to provide primary healthcare through vaccination, drenching against parasites and various curative treatments. By late 1999, about 700 trained veterinary personnel delivered services from 255 district-based veterinary field units (VFUs) in 70 percent of the country. The VFUs are essentially private veterinary practices and their staff deliver clinical and preventive animal-health services to livestock-owning clients. Many provide clinical laboratory services such as faecal egg identification and counts and blood smears for haemoparasite identification. Some VFU veterinarians are increasingly involved in herd-health and production programmes as peri-urban dairies are revived in Kandahar and Kabul. In addition to these private goods and services, VFU veterinarians act as the front line of defense against infectious epidemic transboundary diseases. Since 1996, FAO has implemented a participatory extension programme through the Integrated Livestock Programme (PIHAM) to improve veterinarian/farmer interaction and thus the health and productivity of herds. By early 2000, a convenience sample of 4 050 farmers in 450 villages was in regular direct contact with VFU and livestock production staff. By this third full year of the PIHAM programme, neonatal death rates are relatively low in cattle and sheep (2 percent) and in goats (9 percent). Birth rates in cattle average nearly 70 percent, a calving interval of over 17 months. Birth rates for sheep and goats are 87 percent and 113 percent respectively. Female herd sizes are growing rapidly for cattle (10 percent) and sheep (21 percent) and modestly for goats (2 percent). Purchase rates are modestly high for cattle (11 percent), sheep (7 percent) and goats (4 percent). These figures for 1999 must be seen in the light of a worsening drought in much of the country. Dramatic changes in production indicators may occur in the next few quarters.

BOX 12

The Indonesian eastern islands veterinary services project.

During the early 1990s, a project was undertaken to develop effective and sustainable animal-health services to subsistence farmers in the eastern islands of Indonesia, one of the poorer parts of the country. The government employed sufficient veterinarians at numerous animal-health posts strategically located in the islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba and West Timor. These people were generally recent graduates and conscientious, but poorly paid and ill-equipped. Project funds provided motorcycles, basic equipment for clinical, surgical and disease-investigation activities and a range of locally available medications, such as antibiotics, anthelmintics and anaesthetics for immediate use. Approval was given by the local provincial governor for these veterinarians to work as government employees from 7am-2pm and as private practitioners for the rest of the day. Minimum fees were approved and implemented for such services. Income generated provided fuel for the motorcycles, electricity for the refrigerators and replacements for medications. In-country training was provided for various disciplines of veterinary services and overseas scholarships allowed recipients to experience the business aspects of providing user-pays services. Within three years, the majority of these veterinarians had developed viable and sustainable practices that had reduced dependence on government funding, were targeted to the needs of the livestock owners, gave the veterinarians improved job satisfaction and provided the government with accurate, up-to-date information about the livestock-disease situation in the province.

The animal-health service needed by these people is thus broad in nature but implementation is oriented towards the single animal. Needs vary according to location and need to be identified; they may be based on disease control or the farmer’s goals. Farmers’ needs are often very different from national needs and include nutrition, management, husbandry and reproduction. The smallholder farmer in Vietnam is more concerned with his single buffalo having a foot abscess at the time of plowing than he is with a national FMD control programme; the smallholder farmer in the Philippines is more concerned with the sow having trouble farrowing than he is with the national rabies control programme; the main goal of the smallholder farmer in Indonesia is often to produce sufficient surplus to allow for a pilgrimage to Mecca. Unless directly affected by a major disease epidemic, they often see the constraints applied for disease control as having only nuisance value.

Animal-health services to smallholder farmers in mixed-farming systems must be quickly applied, realistic and empathetic to the farmer’s needs. It requires mobile local staff trained in veterinary science and many other facets of livestock production who are familiar with local farming systems, cultural customs and disease situations. To be viable and sustainable, such services must be demand-driven by recipients: their needs must be met to give this front-line service acceptability and credibility, enhance the job satisfaction of the veterinary providers and supply accurate timely information on national disease events.

A demand-driven service allows recognition of its value by the recipients, who are then able to maximize its benefits and expand into semi-commercial livestock-production enterprises. There are many examples where basic viable animal-health services have given smallholder farmers the confidence to invest time, effort and money into producing eggs, meat and milk in excess of their immediate needs and thus get themselves out of the poverty cycle.

In establishing effective services, special policy considerations must be given to long-term sustainability which, in effect, means to determine who pays for them. Such services have traditionally been regarded as a national responsibility, dependent on sufficient government funding being available. In reality, such funding is universally inadequate and susceptible to changes in government priorities. In many areas, various forms of a “user pays” system have been developed for individual veterinary attention, which has a number of distinct advantages:

To be effective, national policies need to allow the numerous currently available, underworked and generally poorly paid government veterinarians the opportunity to develop and provide this “user pays” service. An example from Indonesia is given in Box 12.

Another alternative for providing animal-health services to smallholder farmers is to investigate the involvement of the private sector. In many parts of Asia, large-scale intensive-production units for poultry, pigs, small ruminants and cattle are developing. These are serviced by veterinary professionals, who are better trained and better paid. As an insurance for their own enterprises, such producers are often willing to provide veterinary services to smallholders in adjoining villages. An example from the Philippines is given in Box 13.

BOX 13

The Philippines FMD campaign.

In response to a major outbreak of FMD in the Philippines in 1995, the Government initiated a major control and eradication programme. The policy of devolving disease-control activities to 78 provincial government units resulted in highly variable, inconsistent and usually insufficient funding for essential activities such as vaccination programmes, compensation to owners of slaughtered stock, staffing of checkpoints, etc.

The disease was unique in that the virus strain was particularly pig-adapted. Although FMD was recognized as an immediate and significant threat to the food security of smallholder pig owners, the main long-term beneficiaries of the programme were obviously going to be the small but influential group of commercial hog producers. These groups were approached and agreed to provide targeted and complementary assistance to the government programme by providing ring vaccination in villages around their commercial farms, replacement pigs for those slaughtered from smallholder units and meals and accommodation for checkpoint staff at remote locations.

Landless livestock farmers. A particularly vulnerable, numerically large and often the poorest of the marginal group of smallholder livestock producers are those without any claim to land. This includes large communities around major capital cities, such as the thousands of swill-feeding pig owners in squatter villages on the outskirts of Manila, and those congregating along major roads, such as the landless poor of Bangladesh. The only assets these people have are their meagre livestock. They are predominantly women, who have the added responsibility of caring for their children while their menfolk are absent searching for or undertaking labouring work.

Other vulnerable livestock producers include those with migratory habits and tenant farmers. Migratory herds and flocks can be constantly at risk through contact with a wide variety of animals, presence in constantly changing locations and markets and resultant exposure to a continually changing environment of infectious agents. The landless tenant farmer is more vulnerable to financial constraints: the slightest variation in costs and prices can have a major impact on his existence.

Provision of animal-health and other services to such farmers presents major problems.

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