| Pastoral associations in Chad |
|4 The activities of the Ishtirak project|
The project's initial proposal was to concentrate on improving the livestock sector of the production system of the agro-pastoralists. In the original project document there were some suggestions with regard to the credit scheme to be used for fattening of animals and the buying of cows for herd improvement. Training for PA members in animal health care was also part of the plan.
During the project's preliminary survey the problem of animal health was brought forward by the target group after the problem of water. The animal health problem was regarded by the project as a good starting point from the point of view of the agro-pastoralists but also for the cooperation with the Ministry of Livestock. The chosen concept was that of a pare-vet programme. The programme developed over time with many changes made according to experience gained and opportunities, as will be made clear in what follows.
4.3.2 The animal health situation in the area
As Oum-Hadjer is situated in the Sahelian zone (precipitation 300-450mm) and as the herds are mainly residential in that zone, it can be rightly concluded that animal health problems are not enormous. This was confirmed for cattle by the livestock owners themselves during a survey in 1989 (Ishtirak, 1989) and again by the livestock survey on animal production parameters held in 1990 (Ishtirak, 1991b). To mention a few figures from this last survey, for 1989/90, cattle mortality was 8.5 per cent, calf mortality was 14 per cent and the annual growth rate of the herd 4 per cent. From the cow histories for the period 1983-1990 a cattle mortality of 13 per cent and an annual growth rate for the herd of -5 per cent was found. These figures can be considered as reasonable production parameters for an extensive animal production system, bearing in mind that the drought of the early 1980s followed by the rinderpest outbreak had a very bad effect on herd composition and herd growth rate.
In the case of small ruminants the mortality is very high; 23 per cent over 1989-1990, 19 per cent caused by diseases and 4 per cent due to accidents and predators (Ishtirak, 1991b). There are no figures available for small ruminants over a longer period. According to the herders there is a high incidence of abortions among the small ruminants probably due to malnutrition during crucial periods of the year.
The local traditional animal health care is very limited and consisted as far as could be discovered of:
- cauterisation with hot irons on the place of injury or pain (this is also used for diarrhoea);
- cattle urine and balanites leaves from the Balinites Aegyptica tree to treat wounds;
- seeds of the tree Acacia Nilotica against trypanosomiasis;
- 'maraboutage': rituals by the marabout (Islamic priest).
The farmers' greatest concerns are rinderpest and anthrax outbreaks, and pleuropneumonia (especially of small ruminants), against which vaccinations are given which are the responsibility of the Ministry of Livestock. For some years the only free vaccination has been the one against rinderpest.
4.3.3 Collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock and the role of the veterinary assistants
The project sub-areas coincide with the working zones of the veterinary posts of the Ministry of Livestock manned with mostly one veterinary assistant. The main occupation of these veterinary assistants is the execution of vaccination campaigns during a limited period of the year. Together with the Ministry of Livestock it was decided that the project could involve these veterinary assistants in the pare-vet programme, which was in line with the planned reforms at the Ministry by the World Bank programme. The project made the veterinary assistants responsible for the training and follow up of the pare-vets, and provides them with a horse, and pays them indemnities according to services rendered to the farmers. The regional head of the Livestock Department is in turn responsible for the training and follow up of the veterinary assistants in collaboration with the project's co-ordinator of the pare-vet programme.
The veterinary assistants work quite closely with the animators of the project and through them learn a lot about the local situation and regional animal health problems. This is a very important aspect as most of them are not from the area, hardly speak the local language, and are therefore not familiar with the local situation. The project organises regular meetings and training sessions with the local veterinary department and its veterinary assistants in order to develop the pare-vet programme and to improve the services rendered to the farmers by the veterinary department.
It is not the intention of the project to transform the veterinary assistants into rural development animators for the PAs, as is the concept in more government-bound projects. Animation should remain the role of the local animators and the active members of the PAs. The veterinary assistants, and hopefully in future also the employees from other technical departments, should carry out their technical tasks according to the farmers' needs and demands.
4.3.4 Training of the para-vets awl the functioning of the veterinary kit
At the end of 1990 the pare-vet programme had developed its definite concept and 72 pare-vets had been trained. For the pare-vet programme two members of each PA selected by the members of the PA are trained to become pare-vets. The first training is three days, with three more threeday follow-up training courses every six months, and a monthly follow up and training by the local veterinary assistant. The three-day sessions are given at the sub-area centres and the monthly follow ups through field visits by the veterinary assistant. The pare-vets are trained in very elementary subjects, disease recognition, dosage of medicines, treatment of wounds, etc.
At the end of the training session the pare-vets receive a veterinary kit which is paid for by their PA in cash before the first training session, one }it per PA. The kit has a standard packet of drugs, 1 antibiotic, 1 deworming drug (for cattle and small ruminants), drug for tick control, 2 trypanocidal, 2 elements for wound treatment. It also contains some basic materials, like cotton wool, soap, syringe and needles, and a washing bowl. The value of the kit is 25,000 CFA (£50), which is approximately the price of a young heifer in Chad.
The cash flow of the veterinary kit acts as a revolving fund and 5 per cent is added to the price of the drugs in order to cover losses, price increases and to renew the necessary material. The pare-vets' accounts are controlled by the PA's committee. It is important to note that in Chad, as part of the World Bank effort to reorganise the veterinary service, a ruling has recently been introduced that PAs should receive a reduction of 40 per cent on the purchase price of veterinary drugs. The pare-vets are not paid or rewarded according to a fixed system as each PA has its own way of dealing with this matter; however, most PAs assume that the pare-vets benefit enough already, as they always have cash in hand. In most cases the pare-vets are rewarded in kind and in status by their fellow farmers.
4.3.5 Role of the para-vets
22.214.171.124 Role of the para-vets in vaccination campaigns
In Chad as in many countries, pare-vets are not allowed by law to inject animals (in reality each livestock owner knows how to inject his animals and will do so if necessary). However, the pare-vet programme in the Oum-Hadjer area plays a very important role in the vaccination campaigns, especially when it concerns the vaccinations that are not free of charge because:
- the pare-vets are very much aware of the importance of vaccinations, and they try to persuade the group members to have their animals vaccinated;
- because of his close contact with the local veterinary assistant, the pare-vet can arrange an appointment for the vaccination and he will organise the group members to attend;
- the para-vet will assist the veterinary assistant with the administration and vaccination;
- the para-vet can check on the correct execution of the vaccinations as he knows the dosage.
Since the introduction of the pare-vet programme the level of organisation of the vaccination campaigns and the number of actual treatments has increased enormously, according to the Ministry of Livestock. Reliable figures are not readily available and difficult to interpret, as there are many other factors affecting the vaccination campaigns.
126.96.36.199 ROLE of the para-vets for curative and preventive treatments
The number of actual curative and preventive treatments carried out by the pare-vets is so far not very great, for various reasons. For example, in the period July 1989 to April 1990, the average number of curative and preventive treatments on cattle was ten treatments per month with a variation of 0-34 treatments. So the maximum was 1 treatment per day. Of these treatments 55 per cent were deworming pills, 17 per cent trypanocidal drugs, 12 per cent deticking, 8 per cent wound treatments, and 7 per cent treatment with antibiotics. There was also no noticeable increase in the number of treatments over the years. However, the farmers insist that they find it very important to have direct access to the veterinary drugs through the veterinary kit if need arises. According to them the occurrence of diseases is low so they rarely need drugs.
When it comes to preventive treatments other than vaccinations, it can be said that so far preventive medication is hardly used by the farmers. For example, deworming pills are given when acute diarrhoea occurs and not on a regular basis. In order to stimulate the use of preventive medication the veterinary assistant, together with the pare-vet, organises demonstrations. The farmers are very enthusiastic about the demonstrations as, for example, with deworming, differences between treated and untreated calves are clear to see. It remains to be seen if the farmers consider it economically viable, given their extensive livestock production system, to deworm all their calves on a regular basis.
4.3.6 Problems encountered
The most important problem with regards to the pare-vet programme is the decline of the veterinary kit's revolving fund. Members often take the treatments on credit. Clearly the farmers consider the fact that they can delay payment for treatments as an important advantage of the presence of the veterinary kit in their group. The pare-vet generally has not the authority to refuse his colleagues. So quite often the pare-vet is not able to renew his stock due to lack of funds, and he has to run around to reclaim the money. Over time it is expected that if indeed the PAs find the veterinary kit useful, the PA committee will take the necessary measures to improve its functioning; Also the recently introduced price advantage on veterinary drugs for PAs will definitely motivate the groups to get their house in order, including keeping a strict control on the pare-vets themselves.
With regard to this last aspect, the veterinary assistant also plays an important role His task is to give a monthly follow up (on the spot), training sessions, and technical assistance to the pare-vets in his region. The pare-vets have a simple recording book which the veterinary assistant has to check in comparison with the medicines in stock. It is the task of the veterinary assistant to improve the functioning of the pare-vet and the veterinary kit within the PAs. In the field there is a noticeable difference between regions, which can partly be explained by the difference in dedication of the veterinary assistant responsible.
4.3.7 Observations on the para-vet programme
It can be said that in the Ishtirak project the role of the pare-vets is that of animator and organiser of the PA members for vaccination campaigns. The paravet also makes sure that there is a supply of the most essential veterinary drugs for sale to the PA members. In turn, the role of the veterinary assistant is that of technical trainer and adviser of the pare-vets and the PAs. The veterinary assistant also carries out vaccination campaigns and the more complicated curative treatments. This definition of roles is only possible because the pare-vet functions within the structure of his PA, within which other activities also take place. This prevents the pare-vet becoming a small business man looking after his own interest instead of the interest of the community.
In the para-vet programme hardly any attention has been given so far to the role of women in animal health. Since the project started to involve women, more and more is being discovered about the role of women in animal health. An important fact is that most of the payments for vaccinations and medicines are made by the women through their butter oil revenue. It is, of course, quite often the women who detect illnesses in the herd as they handle the cows and calves very closely during milking time. Reduced milk production or loss of appetite by calves are noticed. Also the goats and sheep are watched more closely by the women and children than by the men. However, so far discussions show that the women are not (or not yet) interested in becoming practically involved in the pare-vet programme. They consider it as an important service to the herd but not their business.