News: Helping a community survive a drought
Story by: Capt. Jenifer Pearson
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Public Affairs
NEGELE, Ethiopia – More than 25,000 cattle, camels, chickens and other livestock received necessary veterinary treatments Aug. 16 to 24 in an effort to help livestock in the Miesa and Siminto, Ethiopia, region survive the current drought.
A partnership between local Animal Health Assistants, Community Animal Health Workers, the district veterinary office of the Negele Borena Region of Ethiopia and members of the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion functional specialty team from the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conducted a Veterinary Civic Action Program, or VETCAP.
According to Dr. Dejene Taye, Negele Borena District Veterinary Officer, a similar VETCAP in December helped more than 90 percent of the livestock in the region survive a drought and the current support will continue to help the livestock make it through the next drought.
“It is very satisfying working with the Americans and it is good for the communities,” said Taye. “Thanks to the government, this support helps the pastoralists and will help to save more than 20 thousand breeding cattle.”
The CAHWs gave multivitamin injections as well as treatments for trypanosomiasis, the most economically important livestock disease of Africa, especially in cattle. Trypanosomiasis, known as sleeping sickness in humans, affects all aspects of animal production—fertility, birth weights, lactation, growth and survival. They also cleaned and treated animal’s wounds and administered injections of antibiotics and medications for other parasitic diseases.
Gera Huka, a local villager, traveled more than 10 kilometers to have his livestock treated against worms and to receive multi-vitamins. “Some of my cattle are sick or have wounds,” said Huka. “I thank the government and America for helping my cattle.”
The VETCAP was also a good learning experience for the Civil Affairs team to better understand the types of illnesses and injuries of the livestock and how the CAHWs identify and treat the animals.
“Dr. Dejene, the AHAs and the CAHWs have been great to work with in the classroom and in the field,” said U.S. Army Capt. Jill Lynn, 490 CA BN FXSP veterinarian and mission commander. “Working together we have made a difference for the animals and the community. I know Dr. Dejene and his team will continue to do good things to help keep the livestock healthy for the community.”
During the completion ceremony, Boru Cherfole, an AHA stated “Though you could not understand the people at the crush site because they speak a different language, it echoed throughout the day that everyone was very happy that you were here to help with the treatment of animals. It was great to see the U.S. Army Civil Affairs vet team side by side with us treating animals. You weren’t just sitting there; you were out there with us helping our community.”
Other community health workers continued the sentiment by thanking the team and their hard work. “You showed great commitment in the field when we worked together,” said AHA Behailu Fekede. “You helped us at the beginning and now it is up to us to continue and help our community.”