Participatory epidemiology and gender analysis to address small ruminant disease constraints in Livestock and Fish and Africa RISING project sites in Ethiopia
Animal diseases continue to constrain livestock productivity, agricultural development, human wellbeing and poverty alleviation in many regions of the developing world. In Ethiopia this is not only true for Livestock and Fish and Africa RISING project sites, but has been mentioned in sites of different project or programs where ILRI has been involved.
This participatory epidemiology and gender survey was conducted to better understand what these main livestock disease constraints are, how they affect different household, and how much men and women farmers know about their transmission. The findings of the study will also assist in defining future research related to small ruminant diseases, their economic impacts and gender issues related with animal diseases. Moreover, it also established gendered baseline data to monitor impact of future animal health interventions in small ruminants.
The study sites were target areas for Livestock and Fish CRP and the Africa RISING project in the Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. A total of 14 Woredas were included in this study. The participatory appraisal methods used in the study included focus group discussions which were conducted with men or women only groups. Various tools, such as semi-structured interview, simple scoring, proportional piling and seasonal calendar were used to facilitate the process. The validity of the results was assured by triangulation (Catley, 2005).
The livestock species important for the communities were identified by investigating the role of each species from economic and social perspectives, rather than asking the usual question which species predominate in the farming system. The top five diseases that affect particularly small ruminants were identified and scored, and during analysis grouped in to seven major disease categories based on clinical signs reported. The animal age and sex group affected and the seasonality of each disease category were also studied.
The impacts of these diseases on household members, men, women, young men and young women, and children were discussed and scored. In addition, discussions revealed that often farmers have tried to identify possible transmission pathways for the major diseases and showed their interest and desire to better understand epidemiology of the diseases. Important differences in roles in animal health management related activities were observed and most importantly, women weighted their input higher than men did. Understanding of who does what within a household opens important entry points to target future interventions related to disease control.
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