A day in the life of a Community-Based Animal Health Worker

FarmingLivestock

Interviewee: Kubo Langatulo Detero

Location: Marsabit, Kenya

What inspired you to become A COMMUNITY-BASED ANIMAL HEALTH WORKER (CBAHW)? 

Being part of a pastoralist community, I realised our animals were suffering due to limited access to veterinary services. The veterinary department is based in Marsabit, which means that the animal owners have to travel there and ask the department to send out staff. By the time help arrives, the animals have often died.

I felt that the veterinary services needed to be within the community so that when an animal gets sick, it is treated immediately. This inspired me to train as a CBAHW, because I felt the person treating the animals needs to be based with the animals to ensure that treatment is immediate. Both the community, and I, are very happy to save the animals.

As CBAHWs, I feel we give a lot to the community, through treating animals, and to the government by providing weekly disease surveillance reports, travelling to the district headquarters at our own cost.

What does your average day look like?

My day usually starts at 5am. The first thing I do is to go and see my own herd, checking their health and observing the milking process. The milk provides for my breakfast!

By 7am, people who have sick animals come to look for me. I pick up my veterinary bag which contains small portions of all the drugs I commonly use. These include antibiotics, tick and flea spraying drugs and powders, de worming and wound treating medicine and a castration kit. As soon as I get to the site, I carry out a physical examination of the animal, and make a diagnosis before prescribing the right treatment. Prescription is done according to the animal’s weight. Animal weight is calculated using a measurement around the chest and the drug dosage is prescribed according to the weight.

If no-one comes to look for me that day, I carry my bag and go to my drug kiosk. It’s there I sell all the basic animal treatment and health drugs. This means people from the area can come and buy drugs locally and call me as need arises.

What are the common problems or illnesses which your community faces relating to their livestock?

The common illnesses we treat are:

  • Worms
  • Ticks
  • Wounds
  • Eye infections
  • ‘Kipei’ – a chest infection
  • Pneumonia.

We also see diseases which we report to the veterinary department so that they can also take action:

  • Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) [a highly contagious and infectious viral disease of domestic and wild small ruminants].
  • Flukes (flat worms).

Challenges

The three main challenges that I encounter in my work are:

  • People do not always pay when I treat their animals. People may not always have cash at hand and if their animal dies, they are often unwilling to pay.
  • Sometimes I get called to far away places to treat animals. I walk long distances, sometimes through the forest. The treatment provided may cost as little as one US cent. The time and distances covered do not always bring a return.
  • I feel the CBAHWs should be legally recognised and better supported by the Government. Sometimes there are diseases such as Mulok (a liver fluke) which we need the Ministry of Livestock to investigate and take action on.

With thanks to Mbaraka Fazal, working for Tearfund in Kenya, for conducting this interview. Kubo was trained by Food for the Hungry. For more on their work, visit www.fh.org