A collaborative project led by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has strengthened the capacity of local communities in Ethiopia's Ghibe Valley to use innovation systems approaches to improve access to animal health systems.
The Ghibe Valley in southwestern Ethiopia is a fertile region whose rich soils and abundant water resources suggest high agricultural production potential.
However, the region is seriously affected by the deadly trypanosomosis (animal sleeping sickness), a wasting cattle disease which affects the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who depend on livestock for milk, meat and draught power.
In order to enhance the community's access to animal disease control services, the project tested a collaborative trypanosomosis control model in three woredas (administrative units managed by local government).
The project, which was led by ILRI's Innovation in Livestock Systems research team, used two action research approaches - asset-based community development and innovation systems - to derive lessons on how to sustainably improve livestock health service delivery and how to translate improved livestock health into increased productivity and incomes.
Thirteen trypanosomosis co-operatives were formed to link private veterinary drug suppliers to the remote communities to ensure sustainable supply of trypanocides to farmers and reduce dependence on the central government system.
The rural communities have been communicating their needs directly to the private drug suppliers in the capital city Addis Ababa and supply mechanisms have been established.
The project produced a guideline in the local Amharic language for collaborative trypanosomosis control for use by community animal health workers in various districts and regions affected by the disease.
The project also shared maps based on the tse tse fly habitat and trypanosomosis risk modelling of Ghibe Valley with the district and regional authorities for their use in targeting disease-control investments in high-risk and "hot spot" areas.
Other regions which face trypanosomosis challenge have been informed of the utility of such information and analysis for directing investments for effective trypanosomosis control.
These interventions have resulted in significant changes in land use and land cover, increased cultivation of staple crops and healthier, more productive cattle.
The four-year project, which ended in August 2011, was funded by the Comart Foundation.
Source: International Livestock Research Institute