What problem did it address, where?
Accurate, timely information on possible animal disease outbreaks at local level is notoriously difficult to obtain, although it is crucial if countries are to undertake timely disease investigation and instigate appropriate control actions. Limited professional veterinary resources are available in the field in many developing countries, so some means of prioritising inspection/investigation efforts is needed Community level participation in suspected disease reporting has been used extensively in Southern Sudan, and Pakistan (in campaigns against Rinderpest)
Work involved training community groups to observe possible signs and report (for investigation and possible treatment). Community-based "para-veterinarians" may subsequently be able to make a livelihood out of local advice and provision of simple livestock services. Of crucial importance for the credibility of these community workers is to establish appropriate compensation strategies in case of the need for destruction of animals (otherwise their position is socially compromised and the flow of information will dry up). For this, consultation is needed with the finance ministry - FAO may be in a position to facilitate this dialogue. Participatory approaches work best for diseases which are easily diagnosable from clinical signs, or the use of simple diagnostic tools; they also rely on the local language skills and local knowledge on the part of those carrying out training of community workers.
This model of local disease observation groups could be adopted widely in other countries, and for other diseases (for instance to Classical Swine Fever in Latin America). The work could also be extended using new Information and Communication Technologies to the communication of observations to central epidemiology units, with integration with disease mapping software such as TADinfo.