FAO trains cattle keepers in basic veterinary medicine

FAO trains cattle keepers in basic veterinary medicine


For many livestock keepers in South Sudan, there is little that can be done to help a sick or injured animal. “If one of our cows was sick, it was either slaughtered or left to die because we didn’t know how to deal with sick cows,” says Marial Madit, from the Maraya cattle camp in Aweial County. But now, Madit has new knowledge and tools to help heal a sick animal. Along with 24 other young South Sudanese, Madit recently completed a FAO-sponsored training to become a Community Animal Health Worker.

In South Sudan, the death of an animal is the loss of an important asset. Cattle are used not only for milk and meat, but also to pay dowry, what a man must give to a woman’s family before he is able to marry her. Sick livestock can also mean decreased production and limited marketing opportunities, explains Marco Makur Nyariel, a FAO Animal Health Officer based in Rumbek. “If your livestock is sick you may not be able to get good milk. You also may not be able to take care of your family,” he says.

But despite the cultural and economic importance of livestock in South Sudan, access to veterinary care is limited. “During the many years of fighting between the north and the south…. the line of the education system within South Sudan was affected during the war,” says Nyariel, explaining why very few South Sudanese have been trained in veterinary medicine.

What’s more, many livestock keepers live in remote “cattle camps”, where bad roads and insecurity can make access difficult. To help solve that problem, FAO is giving basic veterinary training to people who, like Marial Madit, already live in the cattle camps. The Organization is also supporting the state and national Ministries of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries to fill this gap.

For two weeks in June, Madit and other trainees from Lakes State gathered in the town of Yirol for a two-week workshop. They learned about vaccination, prevention and treatment of diseases affecting cattle, sheep, goats and poultry. The trainees were also taught how to get rid of ticks and lice, which can transmit diseases that weaken the animals. At the end of the course, the newly-trained Community Animal Health Workers were given veterinary medicine and tools, and then sent back to work in their communities. Less than a month later, the trainees were already making a difference in the cattle camps where they live.

“With the training we had last time in Yirol, I have been able to identify the different diseases that have been attacking our cattle and managed to treat some of these diseases,” says Ding Anyoun Gak, who lives in the War-Abyei cattle camp near Rumbek. “We have been able to treat diseases and pests like ticks, also sometimes the cattle come back from grazing when they have wounds that they got from animal attacks that as well we have been able to manage,” adds Aborpei Gumwel, another Community Animal Health Worker at War-Abyei.

But Nyariel says that in addition to caring for livestock, the Community Animal Health Workers can also help create a more peaceful society. Every time the Animal Health Workers treat an animal, they are also encouraged to talk to the people about managing resources. Cattle raiding and disputes over pasture and water often causes fighting between cattle camps.

“We must cooperate and talk about how to manage our natural resources for the benefit of our livestock and to avoid conflict,” says Nyariel.  “The most important thing that you must put in your mind is that without peace you will not be able to do treatment, without peace you will not be able to do livestock vaccination.”

Activities under this programme are funded by the European Union.