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Improving livestock production in Upper East: 28 community animal health workers undergo training

BY: Gilbert Mawuli Agbey
Officials and participants with their work tools after the training workshop
Officials and participants with their work tools after the training workshop

A 10-day intensive training workshop has been organised for community animal health workers (CAHWs) as part of efforts to improve livestock production in the Upper East Region.

The training formed part of a project dubbed “Volunteers Engaged in Gender Responsive Technical Solutions” (VETS), being implemented by Veterinarians Without Borders, Canada supported by Global Affairs, Canada, with the Ghana Poultry Network (GAPNET) as the local partner.

The participants were drawn from 13 selected villages in the Kassena Nankana West District and Kassena Nankana East Municipality.

The villages are Yua, Sirigu, Natugnia, Manyoro, Kandiga and Mirigu, Nabango, Doba, Kowngnia, Nayangnia, Kologo, Nyariga and Dachio.

At the end of the training, termed telehealth project, each participant was presented with a mobile phone on which the Food and Agriculture Organisation Event Mobile Application (EMA-I) has been installed to enhance animal health delivery in the various communities.

Additionally, vaccine flasks, carrier bags and other tools and equipment needed to aid them in the performance of their duties were presented to them, as well as a certificate of participation.

Improving livestock

Speaking at the end of the training last Thursday, the National Coordinator of the project, Gloria Essel, said improving livestock production through good husbandry management and health delivery was key to food nutrition, poverty reduction and rural development.

She said “the purpose of training the CAHWs is to support interventions aimed at increasing livestock production in communities. You have been taught the best management which you need to apply towards achieving the over-arching objective.”

“You are now the foot soldiers in your communities with the mandate to help increase livestock production in your localities and the region as a whole,” she said.

She stated further that “it is only when livestock production is increased in our communities that the overall goal of implementing agencies and sponsors will be achieved.”

Tools and equipment

Ms Essel said one of the tools that had been acquired as an innovative method of improving livestock production was the training and installation of the EMA-I application on the mobile phones to assist the participants in their work.

“You as trained animal health workers using the EMA-I are to report any early disease situation in your community to the veterinary officer to trigger early response to the disease control to prevent it from spreading to kill many animals,” she told the participants.

She stated that GAPNET as the local partners would institute a monitoring mechanism on how the tool was used at the community level for disease reporting, and that GAPNET would institute an annual award for the best community animal health worker who consistently helped to prevent disease spread through early reporting.

Stating that GAPNET was the first NGO to use the FAO EMA-I application in the animal health service delivery, she said “it is, therefore, imperative for the organisation to ensure that the trained animal health workers make use of the tool effectively for the benefit of livestock farmers.”

The Country Team Leader of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, FAO, Dr Garba Maina Ahmed, said getting local communities to be actively involved in animal disease reporting would help reduce animal mortality rate.

He said “early reporting of diseases is key towards fighting diseases that affect livestock in communities.”

He added: “I wish to urge the beneficiary participants to put the knowledge acquired to good use to ensure that the project is successful.”

He further lauded GAPNET for the innovation in the fight against diseases that affected livestock and pledged the FAO’s unflinching support towards the success of the project.

Inadequate staff

The Upper East Regional Director of Agriculture, Francis Ennor, said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture did not have enough staff to attend to livestock farmers and that the training of the animal health workers at the community level would augment the veterinary officers in the region.

He said “over the years, much attention had been given to crops to the neglect of livestock, which had negatively affected livestock production,” and that “it is about time people in Upper East took full advantage of the availability of livestock to reap its full benefit.”

He advised livestock farmers to take proper care of their animals and keenly monitor them in order to easily detect early signs of diseases for the needed attention to be given to them to survive.

The Paramount Chief of the Sirigu Traditional Area, Naba Atogumdeya Roland Akwara III, who chaired the event, charged the participants to perform their responsibilities as required to achieve the intended object of the project.

He urged the chiefs in the beneficiary communities to ensure that the animal workers in such areas worked as expected.