Community-based animal health workers (para-vets)
Para-vets are community based animal health workers. In Kenya, they have served to fill a large gap in extension services and have enabled more people to access vital information and services to protect their livestock. Pastoralism is the main source of livelihood in the Samburu district of Northern Kenya where almost half of the 200,000 population is classified as absolutely poor. In the past, only two vets and 10 technicians were accessible in the district which owns an estimated 2.2 million livestock.
Over the past 10 years local people have been trained as para-vets by Practical Action in partnership with the Kenyan government. There were 100 para-vets practicing in 2009 since beginning training in 2004. Para vets are able to charge for their services and this is also a valuable source of income for local people.
Local livestock keepers were asked to evaluate local para-vets and they concluded that both local para-vets and government services were both ‘good’. However the rate of availability of para-vets was much better, in fact 66% rated para-vets as having good availability (5% said they were poor) compared to 73% of keepers saying government services had poor availability (only 3% rated them as good). In addition para-vets were also considered as more flexible in charging and providing services on credit in emergencies.