The absence of community vets would be terrible. We would be helplessly watching as the animal dies, [paravets] are available in an emergency. They are near, they are “doctors in the house”, offering a very good service and they also give us the option to pay later. (Mrs Lajina Lerkorpita, Bendera village, Baragoi, Samburu district, 2008).
In Samburu district, northern Kenya, the training of community-based animal health workers has helped to fill a huge gap in extension services and enabled more people to access vital information and services to protect their livestock.
Semi-nomadic pastoralism is the main source of livelihoods in Samburu where almost half the population of around 200,000 are classified as absolutely poor. Access to animal health services is very limited, with two vets and between five and 10 technicians for the whole district (which has estimated livestock numbers of over 2.2 million). Over the past 10 years, local people have been trained as paravets by NGOs in partnership with the Kenya government. About 100 were still practising in 2009, more than five years after they were trained. They charge for their services and some have developed this into their main occupation while others work part-time. Local livestock keepers rate the quality and relevance of service of both paravets and government services as good, but rate the availability of paravets as much better (66% rated good, 5% poor) than that of government staff (3% rated good, 73% poor). Paravets are also more flexible in charging and providing treatment on credit in emergencies.
For more information, please contact Practical Action (www.practicalaction.org).