In Northern Kenya, healthier animals = healthier people

Many of the families suffering from the extreme food crisis in the Horn of Africa are families whose lives depend on their animals (read more about this in our last Poverty 180 blog post).

Healthier animals mean healthier people, and in this period of extreme want, keeping the animals alive is top priority.

Education can come in many forms — you don’t need to be sitting at a desk in order to learn. For the past six years, FH has been teaching livestock herders in the Marsabit town of Northern Kenya principles behind animal health that ultimately lead to better lives for themselves and their families.

When these families can protect their animals from disease and sickness, they can better protect themselves from desperate poverty and hunger. They can better withstand the changing climate and unpredictable rains — factors that have led to the current famine in parts of Somalia.

Here, a member of the Marsabit community
learns how to administer drugs to her goat.

FH is helping meet a great need in Marsabit. While Kenya has an entire office of the government devoted to animal husbandry — the Ministry of Livestock Development — Marsabit never had more than three veterinary officers to care for its many thousands of animals. Community-Based Animal Health Workers were present but under-trained in veterinary science and under-equipped with veterinary drugs.

It became apparent, then, that these Animal Health Workers needed to be trained to care for their animals and equipped to do so.

To start, 40 Animal Health Workers in Marsabit were given theoretical and practical training on drugs usage, disease control and medical treatment of livestock. After the training, each participant was given a kit of drugs worth about $220. In exchange, the participant paid FH a deposit of about $77 and, after a grace period of four months, began paying back the rest of the cost at about $11 per month.

The Community-Based Animal Health Workers gathered for a group photo after graduating from FH’s training program.

These kits and the Animal Health Workers’ increased knowledge in animal health enabled them to keep their animals healthier, to earn more money for their families, and to live healthier lives themselves.

But the Animal Health Workers didn’t stop there. They formed an association and opened an account at the local bank.

They pooled their earnings and, just about a year after the start of the program, opened a drug store in Marsabit — a store that serves themselves and their neighbors and is linked to pharmaceutical companies for supplies. FH supported the group with trainings on bookkeeping and basic business principles, and the group holds regular meetings to assess its performance and decide how best to plan for the future.

Here, an Animal Health Worker administers drugs to sheep and goats.

The secretary for this association, Mr. Daballa, says, “Our drug store has given Marsabit Community-Based Animal Health Workers an opportunity to provide prompt treatment to livestock in their respective villages. This has improved livestock health which translates into quality animals that are fetching better prices in the market.”

Around the world, FH uses various forms of education and training to help people create better lives for themselves and their families. Click here to read another story about how education is saving lives even during the drought in Northern Kenya.

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