ANIMAL HEALTH CARE
CHALLENGES IN COMMUNITY BASED ANIMAL
EXPERIENCES OF PRACTICAL ACTION EAST AFRICA
This technical brief describes some of the experiences in animal health care delivery in
Eastern Africa by Practical Action East Africa (formally ITDG EA) and its partners as part of a
food security and drought mitigation strategy among the pastoralists living in the arid and semi
arid lands of East Africa. The pastoralists mainly keep cattle, camels, sheep, goats and
donkeys and animal health care is a key factor affecting livestock production.
What is Community-based Animal Health Care (CBAHC)?
Community-based Animal Health Care (CBHC) is an approach aimed at delivering services that
are controlled by the community as opposed to the conventional government controlled or
centralised service delivery approach. It is the delivery of animal health services by selected
members of the community who are trained to handle basic animal health care issues at
village level. These trainees are called community based animal health workers (CAHWs). For
sustainability they are linked to a drug supply system as well as a referral system with
veterinary professionals. This approach has also been used in the provision of animal health
services in Nepal and India.
The historical development of Animal health services in Kenya
The veterinary department was established in Kenya in 1903 by the British government, which
was more concerned with disease control and research, while European farmers in
collaboration with private practitioners took care of clinical services and breeding programs.
This was the norm in the high potential areas where European farmers were located. The
indigenous farmers were offered free disease control by the government so that their animals
would remain free of disease to reduce the risk of infection to the European high-grade cattle.
Just before independence, the African farmers were allowed to keep grade cattle. Soon after
independence in 1963, the European farms were sub divided into smaller units for allocation
to small-scale African farmers along with the high-grade cattle in those farms.
The small-scale farmers had no experience in managing high-grade cattle that were less
resistant to diseases, particularly tick borne diseases. The animals thus started dying in large
numbers. The African farmers were also poor, with limited resources to invest in high-grade
cattle. They therefore could not afford fees charged by the private veterinary practitioners.
Consequently, the practitioners could not make a living and thus left the country. A vacuum in
the provision of services was created and the government had to intervene to protect the high-
grade national herd from risks of diseases. Clinical centres were built, artificial insemination
services and bull schemes were opened, dipping programmes organized and where veterinary
staff was inadequate expatriates were hired, and while manpower training was increased.
These types of services that were subsidized became a heavy budgetary burden and could not
be sustained for long.
Why Community based Animal Health Care (CAHC)?
Over the years, the allocation for non-recurrent salary budgets has stated declining, resulting
in inefficient delivery of services. It was also realized that the remote areas of Kenya were not
being adequately served by the central government veterinary services for reasons, which
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