Designing control programmes
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There is no step by step advice or specific strategy one could propose to cover all situations. The strategy needs to be developed by a knowledgeable person familiar with the situation concerned. Even then, it will be necessary to test different procedures. The discussion below will attempt to provide some general ideas, which would assist in developing such a strategy and will stress some points to clear misconceptions.
Even today people still talk about rat free towns or stores. This may be possible in theory or in some special situations. However it is expensive and impractical (Drummond 1969) and certainly unrealistic in the tropics (Wood and Chan 1974).
When designing a strategy one should also decide on and differentiate between the temporary clearing of a heavily rat infested store and the long term prevention of rat infestations. The latter should be aimed at; because it is cheaper, more rewarding and more professional in the long run. This points to all the measures called for under hygiene and sanitation. Modern rodenticides are good but, at least in buildings, hygienic practices are better.
In this respect the key factors are organisation and regular finance (Sane) et al 1984). This means that planning, execution and monitoring of all activities are of paramount importance (Meehan 1984, Drummond 1981). They include the following points:
The information obtained from surveys and other sources will flow into the situation analysis and control strategy, that is: who should be involved, where are the points of infestation, which repairs are necessary, what costs can be expected, and what are the potential losses. It is considered justifiable to spend an amount equivalent to the value of about 10% of the potential losses on rodent control.
The level of co-ordination and co-operation required depends on the situation. In a village it may mean motivating and informing all households. A store situated in an isolated rural location would require the involvement of the owners of the fields surrounding the store. If the store is situated in a city or port, other storekeepers or the council may need to be involved. As mentioned earlier, the larger the area involved in a rodent control programme, the more effective it will be.
Figure 9.3. A well performed situation analysis is the first step in developing an effective and suitable management strategy.
One person on the premises should have a fair knowledge of rodents and their control. Although training may not be essential, it helps in improving efficiency. Most people, particularly in tropical countries, have learned to live with rodents. Therefore, it is necessary to create a general awareness of the problems and the benefits (Dorrance 1984), and preferably involve as many people as possible in the control programme. The importance of making a specific person responsible for rodent control (Becker 1981) is often overlooked. It is necessary to be able to report to a responsible person, since this will ensure continuity of activities. Often after an intensive control campaign, and the reduction of the rat population, interest wanes and with it all associated activities until the next heavy infestation occurs (cf. Hoque and Saxena 1988).
Making a person responsible for rodent control may be the first and most worthwhile step a warehouse manager can make towards reducing his rat problems efficiently.
The following more specific guidelines may serve as a starting point in the design of a plan of action.
Efficient rodent control can only be executed when the necessary framework for it is set. The points below would be the responsibility of the manager of a warehouse or warehouses or the chief extensionist for a village.
It is important to emphasise that monitoring must be performed regularly and promptly reported on. As far as possible it should include coatings of potential losses (from damage surveys), costs of control and potential benefits. Reports must include recommendations for future actions, and a plan for action based on the results of monitoring. It is suggested that reports are submitted at least once a month. This will aid management in providing budgets and motivate all people involved.
The procedures and techniques listed below are considered to be most effective, and should appear in the plan of action. They need to be adapted to local requirements, and could therefore include techniques not mentioned in the list. The person responsible for each action, and the time/date when it has to be executed, must be named in the plan of action.
1. Sanitation must remain in the forefront of any rodent control, inside and outside the building, including:
2. Proofing the building: including regular, even if simple, repairs and other improvements.
3. Chemical control should be seen as an adjunct to sanitation and be in line with the following recommendations:
The effectiveness of rodent control arrangements depends upon the people responsible for their implementation being aware of the problems involved, their motivation and their interest in achieving success. The tools required are: (a) regular monitoring, (b) well trained operators and (c) access to labour and materials when they are needed. It is fair to claim that in rodent control the problem are mostly concerned with people and not the rats. Hence the reduced stress on control techniques in this Chapter.
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