Caring for Livestock Across the Northern Frontier

Published December 15, 2015 by Dr. Diba Dida

31 year old Adan Ibrahim Wario is an Animal Health Assistant at the Sidai Super Service Centre in Isiolo County

REGAL-IR largely works in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), which receive an average annual rainfall of 600mm and where communities are mainly pastoralists, keeping cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys. The importance of livestock to the ASAL communities goes beyond their economic value: their survival, lifestyle, livelihoods and cultural rituals all depend on the livestock.

It is recognized that livestock productivity is generally low due to poor veterinary service delivery owing to inadequate numbers of veterinary professionals on the ground, and poor funding, among other factors. Aid agencies have often attempted to bridge this gap through emergency treatment and vaccination programs that have fallen short of achieving a sustainable animal health service delivery. This approach puts the emphasis on provision of drugs with little effort on development of diagnostic and surveillance services as well as routine vaccination services. With four Super Service Centers and over 20 franchisees across the Northern frontier, the role of Sidai, as a service provider is increasing in the ASALs. The company places strong emphasis on preventative healthcare and improved livestock management. Its approach combines selling genuine products, giving expert advice and offering value-added services towards helping the pastoralists raise healthy and productive livestock. The company offers vaccinations, disease surveillance/reporting, field diagnostics and clinical services.

In an effort to boost disease control, Sidai has built a network of cold chain facilities that have brought vaccination services closer to the pastoralists and poultry farmers. Prior to the entry of Sidai into the region, vaccinations were only provided during emergency periods by the government and aid agencies to contain disease outbreaks. Therefore, the service fell short of the preventive role that vaccines were designed for. From Sidai service centres, livestock owners are now receiving this service for a wide range of diseases covering all the livestock species in the region when needed.

In addition to veterinary service delivery, Sidai trains the pastoralists on various aspects of animal health and production. Due to the presence of counterfeit drugs and rampant misuse of veterinary drugs, a substantial amount of time is put in training them on proper use of veterinary drugs. Improved availability of animal health products and services in the region has had an impact on the quality of veterinary services. The herders now have variety of products to meet their needs. In the absence of appropriate veterinary drugs, pastoralists usually treat their livestock with any available ones. Therefore, availing a wide range of products is one way of encouraging proper use of veterinary drugs.

REGAL-IR through Sidai Africa will continue to expand the network of franchises and service centres across northern Kenya and provide livestock services to the pastoralists with a view to building their resilience by protecting their livelihood assets.