Animal vaccinations in Yemen help protect families’ livelihoods

Animal vaccinations in Yemen help protect families’ livelihoods

10/04/2017

Livestock ownership is of considerable importance for Yemen’s rural population. Households typically keep sheep, goats and cattle, and rely on the consumption and sale of their products to survive. Being able to sell an animal to raise cash quickly when faced with an emergency or shock is also a crucial fallback survival strategy for many rural Yemenis.

However, since the current conflict escalated in March 2015, livestock are facing an increasing number of health risks. Many of Yemen’s governorates lack proper government veterinary services. Private vet services and animal drugs are expensive. Import restrictions have caused the availability of drugs to drop and prices rise still further. Good quality fodder, to ensure animals are well fed and healthy, is also increasingly difficult to find.

Common ailments include parasites, respiratory infections, Peste des Petits ruminants (PPR), sheep and goat pox, foot and mouth disease, mastitis and foot rot to name a few. Moreover, animal health issues are compounded in some governorates by the arrival of internally displaced people (IDPs) who have fled the conflict with their livestock which may be carrying diseases – putting animals in host communities at risk of infection.

The Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment, released in February 2017, showed that of the households surveyed about 45 percent owned fewer livestock in 2016 compared to the pre-crisis period. One of the main reasons was loss of animals from disease. Currently, more than 800 000 households engaged in agriculture are struggling to adequately control crop and livestock diseases.

FAO Yemen has therefore made the protection of livestock one of its key emergency response priorities for 2017. The organization is aiming to raise USD 48.4 million in funding this year and, if it is successful, a portion will be used to vaccinate approximately 8.4 million animals against disease and treat 1 million animals for parasites. This will benefit 335 900 households.

As part of a USD 5.8 million project funded by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre to provide emergency livelihoods support to IDPs and host communities in conflict-affected governorates, FAO started in February 2017 to  vaccinate and treat animals for parasites in the governorates of Al Hudaydah, Taizz, Sada’a, Lahj, Abyan and Hajjah.

In Al Hudaydah, vets and community animal health workers vaccinated 118 810 sheep and goats against Pest de Petites Ruminants (PPR) and sheep and goat pox in AzZaydiah and Al Qanawis districts. They also treated 418 697 cows, sheep and goats for internal parasites in Az Zaydiyah.

Mohammed Ahmed was one of the livestock owners who benefitted from the initiative in Az Zaydiah district. “I have 40 sheep that have not been vaccinated for more than 7 years,” he said. “The vaccines are too expensive for me to buy.” Previously, the Yemeni government imported vaccines and provided them for free. Another livestock owner in Az Zaydiah, who did not give his name, said: “Here, livestock is the main source of income for people. I was afraid that if any of my sheep were to die, I would not be able to feed my children.”

The animals treated for worms are now expected to be healthier and to produce more meat and milk. The vaccinated animals will be protected against potentially fatal diseases andwill be able to keep producing nutritious food for families to consume or sell at the market.