FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Small-scale livestock keepers in Syria receive emergency support from FAO

FAO with the support of the Syrian Veterinary Association is helping more than 80 000 small-scale herders to protect their livestock assets and reduce animal production losses.

1 February 2015, Damascus – Nearly 4 000 000 sheep, goats and cattle across Syria will be treated for parasites by FAO with the support of the Syrian Veterinary Association (SVA). This mass treatment campaign is conducted with funding from the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium and will benefit more than 76 000 livestock keepers in high-risk areas in Al Hasakeh, Dar’a, Idleb, Hama, Homs and Rural Damascus governorates. Since the campaign was launched in December 2014, nearly 2.4 million animals have been treated and activities are proceeding at a very good pace.

“Treatment of livestock for parasite is more than a public health issue - it contributes to maintain animals and people healthy. It therefore helps to keep families and communities fed and to build their resilience” said FAO Representative in Syria, Ms. Eriko Hibi.

With the intensification of the crisis in Syria, the regular delivery of animal health services has been significantly disrupted. This is of particular concern as livelihood loss, deepening poverty, inflation and steep depreciation of the Syrian pound have further eroded the capacity of farmers to spare resources for veterinary treatments. In this context, small-scale herders have been particularly vulnerable and their livestock has been left exposed to a series of serious health threats including transboundary animal diseases (TADs) and parasites. For the small-scale herders supported, livestock is the only productive asset they own. “It is their only source of income - their lifeline,” said Ms. Hibi “Therefore, they cannot afford to lose livestock to preventable diseases.” There is thus the urgent need to put in place a sound defense against the threats to animal health and production through enhanced veterinary services and strengthened capacities of local herders and animal raisers.

 As a first step, FAO has launched in December 2014 a large treatment campaign for parasites. Parasites represent a major concern for livestock keepers as they can cause a severe reduction in productivity and may lead to death of malnourished animals. The anti-parasite treatment will improve the capacity of vulnerable livestock keeping communities in targeted areas to protect their animals from deaths and production losses. This will ultimately result in their enhanced food security and livelihoods. Furthermore, it will also contribute to the increased availability of milk, dairy products and meat at the community level. This is extremely important as recent assessments reveal that crisis-affected people in Syria have an increasingly limited access to fresh nutrient food, which has a direct negative impact on their dietary diversity, food and nutrition security.

During the first half of 2015, treatment efforts will continue thanks to funding received from the United States of America. Nevertheless, further resources are urgently required. In 2015 FAO is seeking USD 10 million to provide emergency support to small-scale herders affected by the Syria crisis to protect their livestock assets.