PlantVillage, through the Dream Team Agro Consultancy Limited, is partnering with the County Government of Samburu under the Department of Livestock, Veterinary, and Fisheries to recruit 60 Community Disease Reporters (CDRs) to back up the organization’s efforts towards empowering pastoralist communities.
The CDRs will join the PlantVillage Scouts unit, which is tasked with reporting cases of animal disease outbreaks in rural areas to relevant officials from the Department of Livestock, Veterinary, and Fisheries, allowing for long-term efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The officers will be deployed in all three sub-counties of Samburu County: Samburu East, Samburu North, and Samburu West.
John Mobea, a county government official in charge of veterinary services, said the initiative will enable them to reach the affected areas in time to contain disease outbreaks.
"We have settled on readily available locals; their core duty will be submitting reports related to signs and symptoms of disease affecting livestock in the village. In previous times, we have had different types of diseases emerge on a daily basis. Their reports will help us respond to such cases on time. We hope to highly depend on their information," Mobea said.
Lodejek, Sura Adoru, Mugor, and Lolokwe in Samburu East Sub-County are some of the regions within Samburu that are benefiting from the program rolled out by PlantVillage in 2021, with the organization having drafted plans to expand its scope to other sub-counties.
"The shortlisted personnel will undergo a one-week training in Maralal. They will be equipped with skills on how to conduct the exercise," Mr. Mobea further said, adding that the officers will be trained on how to use the Animal Village feature in the PlantVillage Nuru application on their smartphones to take photos of animals with disease signs and send them to them.
The pastoralists in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) experience losses incurred by disease outbreaks that wipe out the whole flock.
The losses are mostly attributed to a lack of knowledge about modern methods of dealing with diseases in animals.
"Our cows, sheep, goats, and camels are dying one after the other. They contract these diseases while in the grazing fields," said Lipora Lengoyo, a pastoralist from Lolokwe.
To scale up the program, PlantVillage has introduced an initiative dubbed "Warrior View," whose aim is to reclaim arid areas by planting trees using biochar and restoring cover crops that can withstand drought and bad weather. Speakig about this new developement the founder of PlantVillage, David Hughes, said "This is a really satsifying development. Via PlantVillage we are providing a world class solution but it is only valuable via local ownership. To see the county of Samburu and local comnunties embrace this is the ethos we live everyday: optimized locally, sclaed globally"
The program has also been rolled out in other ASALs counties, including Turkana, Isiolo, Narok, Baringo, and Marsabit.
By Dennis Avokoywa