The Need and Possible Modalities Of Establishment of Community Based Delivery Of Veterinary Services And Inputs In The Arid And Semi Arid Areas In Kenya
Munyua, Muchina S. J
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Veterinary services and inputs in the ASAL, as most other services in the rest of the country, has for sometime now been offered fr ee, with the Governme nt meeting the costs of drugs, service, disease control and surv eillance and employment and deployment of personnel. This structure and mode of deliver y of services, which is based on extension packages tested in the sedentary and semi-s edentary production systems, has proved to be impractical and unsustainable. The situati on is compounded by the collapse of basic infrastructure, including service delivery sy stems and insecurity and the “almost total control” of livestock marketing by middlemen. The provision of veterinary inputs and servic es is unlikely to improve if the present delivery systems are left in place. Thus there is need to empower the animal health technicians (AHTs) and selected livestock producers in the pa storal areas to be service and input providers. This is especially critic al now that the donor nations, international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are deeply entrenched in the process of economic a nd social change, are insisting on reduced Government spending, right sizing Govern ment service delivery personnel and privatization of deliver y of goods and services. The alleviation or easing of the current liv estock production constraints alone, however, will not serve the livestock producers if the current livestock marketing system remains in place. This system is between an “informed and wealthy middlemen” and “unaware and often desperate livestock producers”. The od ds have to be made more even through regular provision of current livestock market informati on and training of livestock producers (and their school age children whenever possible) in the art of livestock pricing. It is our humble opinion that the current marketing and the veterinary services delivery system has to evolve to become truly pa rticipatory if livestock productivity, food security, increased rural income s and improved quality of life is to be come a reality in the ASAL areas. This will not only ease pr oduction and marketing constraints currently facing farmers but also stabil ize their economic base and change their socio-economic status to one that gives them hope of rising to the next notch in their hierarchy of needs.