FAO’s vaccination campaigns in Borno save smallholders’ herds and income

Seven of Abu Abbajiddi’s 16 cattle have died in the last thirteen months. For the 51 year old father of eight from Gongulong community of Jere, Borno state, each of the dead cattle was estimated to have been worth an average of NGN 100 000 (USD 275). “Last year was one of the most devastating times of my life; it was a great loss”, he said. According to him, a post mortem of the animals revealed that they died from contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) – a chronic and highly contagious disease that affects cattle of any age. The symptoms are coughing, nasal discharge, respiratory difficulties and ultimately death. Prominent in sub-Sahara Africa, it affects around 24 million low-income farmers and causes an estimated USD 60 million loss in Africa yearly.

Similarly in the last eight months, 40-year-old Batula Lawan has lost two of her goats, valued averagely at NGN 16 000 (USD 45) each. Batula, who rears goats to feed her ten children, said these animals are her main economic assets. Symptoms suggest they died from peste des petits ruminants (PPR). It is a disease common to goats and other small ruminants. Like CBPP, it causes nasal-ocular discharges, anorexia and death within seven days of exposure. PPR’s adverse impacts affect rural women who keep goats and other small ruminants for their livelihoods, more than any other group. FAO designates PPR as a damaging threat to small ruminant production and poverty alleviation in Africa. Both CBPP and PPR can be contained with proper and modern livestock vaccination procedures.

Abu and Batula are among many smallholder pastoralists in northeastern Nigeria whose livestock-based livelihoods have been negatively impacted by the decade long armed conflict in the region. The crisis has led to the collapse of animal healthcare systems, particularly in deep rural areas. In the absence of vaccines, farmers have resorted to traditional coping mechanisms such as putting a small dose of saliva from infected animals in the mouths of healthy ones to prevent the spread of the disease. It is believed that the saliva will act as a rudimentary vaccine, building the immunity of healthy animals. These mechanisms are ineffective.

With funding from the European Union Trust Fund, some relief has come for Abu, Batula and other livestock farmers in Borno. Their herds were among the many that were vaccinated in the State recently in a massive livestock campaign spearheaded by FAO, targeting 120 000 livestock for vaccination against CBPP, PPR and Black Quarter diseases in Borno state.

These three livestock diseases are the most prevalent in Borno and can result in significant losses in herds and earnings among affected households. The vaccination campaign began in Jere local government area (LGA) and included the vaccination of 980 cattle and 1 400 small ruminants (goat, sheep, etc.). The campaign will cover Jere, Kaga, Monguno Gubio and Konduga LGAs in the state. “I am very happy now, as my cows are safe”, a jubilant Abu quipped after vaccinating his remaining nine cattle. To sustain the efficiency of the vaccination, 150 community-based animal health workers will be trained and equipped to provide continued support for livestock farmers in the state.

“Smallholder pastoralists in the state have lost most of their herds to diseases, theft and many have sold their animals at very low prices out of necessity. This has resulted in poor food security and nutrition conditions for many livestock owners”, said Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria.

The FAO representative stressed that the vaccination campaign is one central way in which the Organization protects herds and the livestock owning families who depend on them. “FAO is committed to ensuring that livestock owners in the State, and throughout Nigeria, are protected and have the resources to rebuild their lives”, he said.

The vaccination campaign is part of a larger agricultural support initiative in Borno state, being implemented by FAO and funded by the European Union. The action, mainly targeting vulnerable people, will assist about 100 000 households (700 000 people) in the restoration of agriculture-based livelihoods across three years. Farmers – returnees, IDPs and host community members – will be supported with crop production, livestock restocking, aquaculture and agribusiness development. FAO hopes that in the long term, the project will improve nutrition and food production, boost employment and enhance income generation in the state.

Source : Fao