Case Holder:
Paravets

Paravets – Afghan Veterinary Association

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

It is clear that alongside strategies for creating jobs, there must also be strategies for creating new businesses that will, in turn, create employment.  For those young people living in fragile states, seeking decent employment or entrepreneurial opportunities is an even greater challenge. More than 1.4 billion people are believed to be living in situations typified as “fragile”.   This may be as a result of human-made or natural disasters, armed conflict, health related epidemics and outbreaks and extreme poverty, which have made it difficult if not impossible for a government to administer, provide and care for the people within its protection.  An example of this is the lack of services and the often dis-jointed relationship between the core stakeholders who might contribute to creating entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, such as those developing policy or providing education, the transition from school to work, technical and vocational training and creating an enabling environment for start-up businesses to flourish and grow.

The Road to Jobs project contracted the Afghan Veterinary Association (AVA) to do an in-depth training needs assessment amongst para-vets and design a training programme to equip them with the right skills to address the problem of high mortality rates (12%) among sheep and goats in the Samangan province of Northern Afghanistan. Due to this intervention animal losses have been reduced in some cases by 50%.

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The Problem

The Road to Jobs (R2J) project in Samangan Province, Afghanistan, held consultations with stakeholders in the livestock sector in Samangan province. High mortality rates amongst sheep and goats was causing concern and solutions were sought. The rapid market appraisal identified the lack of drinking water and shelter as a possible cause, but after further investigation it was understood that the main cause was lack of veterinary services; the animals were dying of disease, not from lack of water and shelter. Samangan has almost 1,625,000 heads of livestock (1,220,000 sheep and 405,000 goats) (Kagohashi, 2015). About 80% of the farmers maintain their livelihood through livestock/animal husbandry in the province especially on sheep and goats. About 12% of the sheep and goats die every year due to lack of access to and poor vet services in the villages.

Objective

The Samangan Livestock Committee was formed among livestock farmers, DAIL and para-vets to work on solutions to the challenges faced by stakeholders. It was agreed that para-vets needed improved knowledge to diagnose livestock diseases and administer the right medicines in order to reduce the mortality of animals. The Afghan Veterinary Association (AVA) was contracted by R2J to do an in-depth training needs assessment among para-vets and design a training programme to equip them with the right skills to address the problem of poor access to veterinary services.

Value Proposition & Activities

Habib Rahman, or ’Doctor’, as he is known to his trusting client farmers, attended the para-vets training course provided by the Afghan Veterinary Association (AVA) in September 2016. He owns a drugstore for veterinary medicines in Samangan. He has employed and trained up two helpers in his shop. Farmers walk in and explain the problems with their livestock and they are advised what to buy by these ‘para-vets’ who suggest medicines and their administration and dosage.

If the problem continues, Habib goes to the field to physically examine the animals. According to him, there are at least 100 farmers per day who come to the drug-store and he visits  5-6 cases in a day. This increase in volume of work has translated into a 5% net income increase in the past 12 months. He reckons that  ‘improvement in diagnosis and prescription from within the drug-store and by going out to physically look at the animals has increased farmers’ confidence’ in his services. “Farmers are now telling each other about how good an animal doctor I am and more and more farmers are coming every day. Before the training it was never this busy”, he said with confidence.

Habib believes that linkages with other para-vets is important to enhance his drug-store business. He also thinks that the way forward for the livestock farmers is for para-vets to receive further training on diagnosis and prescription of medicines. Another important linkage, says Habib, “is for the project to help link us directly with vet medicine manufacturers in India, Pakistan and Iran.” According to Habib, this will significantly bring down the prices of medicines and help improve the situation for both farmers and the para-vets themselves. Currently his drug-store buys medicines from middlemen.

A para-vet in the more remote areas

Abdullah Ahmad lives in Hazrat Sultan and sees 10-15 farmers per day. He makes at least 4-5 visits in a 5-6km radius to physically look at the sick animals, all because of a ‘better understanding of diseases and their treatment’. Abdullah feels that their training as para-vets should be a continuous process, mixing new knowledge and refreshers so that they stay up-to-date. He also said, “We need training on Artificial Insemination for a few para-vets here because currently we have to call in a para-vet from Baghlan province to render this service and we have to pay him a fee of 2000Afs per case excluding all other costs”.  He believes that this will make the service more affordable for local farmers and increase revenue for the trained para-vet.

“I have seen a 10% increase in incomes directly resulting from a corresponding increase in farmers coming to ask for help compared to the year before”.

Learning & Results

Farmers have acknowledged an improvement in service quality from para-vets in the past year. One of the farmers said, “We are now receiving good advice from Dr. Habib like keeping vaccines in ice as we carry them back to village until we administer to the animals. Before, we used to just shove the vaccines into our pockets.” The noticeable positive effects of such practice has led farmers to trust their para-vet more.

“I am now able to determine most diseases based on symptoms described to me by the client farmers. The knowledge I gained from the training has proved very valuable because I am able to more accurately diagnose and prescribe the right medicine for the sick animals” Habib Rahman

“The doctor is giving advice on how to keep animals healthy in both winter and summer in order to reduce losses. My animal losses have been reduced from 30 to 15 animals in the past year. This means more income for me”, said the farmer.

The farmer has 200 sheep and reported losing at least 30 animals per annum before last year. With more quality interface with Dr. Habib, that has been reduced by 50%.

The farmer said, “Our main challenge is pasture. Maybe if we can have cake for our animals that would be helpful”. This got the para-vet and R2J intervention manager discussing how this could be resolved. It seems a possible solution could be explored with the same para-vets if they were trained in Urea Treatment of wheat straw. This treatment introduces the necessary vitamins to the straw and animals could benefit if farmers received training on how to do it.

Outcomes

  • Sustainable jobs improved for 46,367 households.
  • About $1,160,529 net income saved annually by the farmers as a result of reduced livestock mortality.
  • Improved business/jobs for 18 para-vets
  • Improved technical know-how of the participating market players (para-vets, farmers) in sheep and goat management.
  • About $18,112 net income generated by para-vets annually.

Conclusion & any future variation

Goats and sheep rearing for meat, dairy and cashmere is one of the key commercial livestock production activities in Samangan province and it is heavily affected by limited veterinary services and low quality of medicines which results in farmers losing livestock to diseases. With farmers’ confidence in para-vet services increasing, it can only be better business for veterinarians who own veterinary drug-stores to work with para-vets to reach more farmers. A direct market linkage with foreign manufacturers is necessary in order to reduce the costs of medicines to farmers. R2J project will explore deals to that effect. Training needs to be provided to farmers on how to make nutritious fodder for animals through the para-vets with the drug-stores supplying the nutrients.