Livestock diseases and their related costs of management are ranked as the biggest economic threat to the livelihood of poor rural farmers and livestock owners. Among these diseases, Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in small ruminants and Newcastle Disease (ND) in poultry are two of the most impacting ones in Nigeria. Although numerous efforts have been made to mitigate impact of livestock diseases, there persist varying

challenges such as: limited technological resources, weak access to animal health services, and poor availability of vaccines, gaps in epidemiological and socio-economic knowledge. The Livestock sector in Nigeria has benefited from the contributions of Veterinarians over the years. However, the number of professional animal health workers is not enough to provide adequate, and qualitative service in the rural areas across the country. It is therefore important that we enhance the capacities of all animal health actors, particularly those in the community who directly interface with rural livestock owners.

The EU-funded Livestock Disease Surveillance Knowledge Integration (LIDISKI) aims at improving the livelihoods of smallholder livestock farmers in Nigeria, through the reinforcement of the surveillance and control of PPR and ND affecting their livestock. To achieve this aim, one of LIDISKI’s core action is to improve the epidemiological and socio-economic knowledge about the two diseases and to upgrade capacities of Nigerian animal health actors (Federal government, Research Institutes, veterinary services, field veterinarians, Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs), herders, and poultry owners) in PPR and ND surveillance and control.

In April, through the first and second week, the LIDISKI project implementers (NVRI, Ikore, Cirad) met in Plateau, our pilot state to carry out some activities that will contribute swift disease reporting, easy access to efficient vaccines, and application of adapted control measures.

The activities carried out are listed below:

Participatory modelling of the surveillance system

The objective of this first participatory modelling workshop was to draw the base line of knowledge of the surveillance and control activities on the field. Farmers (poultry and sheep and goat owners) from Plateau state were invited with CAHWS, local veterinary services and private veterinary clinic representative to build a shared vision of PPR and NC surveillance and control activities.  In a first session, the farmers on one side worked separately from the other participants on the other side. Each group drawn an actors-relationships diagram to visualize the structure of the system as a whole. In a second session, the participants discussed all together similarities and differences between both diagrams. 

In a last session, the two groups worked again separately to produce sequence diagrams with the aim of better understanding the dynamics of the surveillance and control system.

Four diagrams were produced by participants and will be used as a first specification for a future simulation model that will be presented and discussed in the next workshop.

Workshop About Animal Mobility

The aim of the workshop was to gather together different actors involved in livestock and poultry 

production to collect information about animal movements in Plateau State. Using some participatory approaches, the participants identified the principal markets, resting areas and movement axes in Plateau State for small ruminants during the dry and rainy seasons, as well as the commercial circuits for poultry. The results of the activity have been shown in terms of maps of livestock flows. Collecting this information represents the preliminary step to better understanding the livestock mobility and will be used to identify markets and areas to survey to retrieve more quantitative data.

Training and Applying Household Questionnaire (Introduction & Field Training)

Based on discussions raised from a scientific seminar on” (agro)pastoral economics in a shock-prone environment”, the training workshop aimed to share and discuss knowledge gathered through various (agro)pastoral systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The material of the workshop was made of conceptual frameworks for the determination of household income and expenditures, the analysis of shocks perceived by these households  and coping strategies they develop to face up to multifaceted shocks. Then, a detailed questionnaire was designed to be appropriate and adapted to the intrinsic characteristics of (agro)pastoralism in Nigeria. 

 The survey tool has been tested in the field and additional adjustments were brought to finalize the questionnaire that will be used for the pilot study in the Plateau State. The final version of the survey tool was sent to IKORE to be designed on Kobo collect and to be  transferred to tablets for electronic capture. An additional training module was made to share methods of sampling sizes determination and sampling strategy with partners.

Training and Practicing in Participatory Epidemiology and Socio-Economics

The development of appropriate and effective prevention and control strategies requires a good epidemiological and socio-economic knowledge of PPR and ND. Thus, agents from the project’s partner institutions, as well as from NAERLS, met to share their experiences in participatory epidemiology and health economics.

Theoretical presentations followed by practical exercises were conducted over four days. All the newly acquired skills were used to develop a survey protocol aimed at (i) capturing farmers’ knowledge on the two diseases and describing their occurrence and spatial distribution, (ii) analysing the impact of the two diseases on farmers’

livelihood and the determinants influencing their decisions when managing the diseases. During two days, the protocol was then tested in the field, which allowed stakeholders to practice interview techniques. The field test also allowed the protocol to be revised so that it would be best suited to its implementation context.

Community Animal Health Workers Program; Training of Trainers

The Training of Trainers is a component of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) led Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWS) Program currently being implemented by Plateau state. It is aimed at equipping veterinarians in NVRI and the state with requisite skills to train prospective CAHWs across the state.

Between 14th and 15th of April, the Training was carried out at, NVRI, Vom and the opening was graced by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Plateau state, Pharm. Abel H. Gyatau and other stakeholders.

The training covered topics and activities including; Justification and scope of the CAHW Program, facilitation and adult learning skills, planning for a training, requirements for starting a CAHW training program, dip and train session and group activities. Twenty-two (22) veterinarians were successfully trained, tested and certified as facilitators for step-down trainings to prospective CAHWs in Plateau state.

Review of qualitative data collection methods and communication skills

The training aim was to stimulate and provide insights to participants on the nature of qualitative data collection methods and also highlight and build specific communication skills related to listening, interviewing and non-verbal communication using a variety of role play exercises.

A presentation was made that provided an overview of qualitative research approach which exposed the challenges involved in qualitative data collection including huge requirements for funds, personnel, and time as well as the challenges of analyzing such data collected bearing in mind that variables are mostly non-numerical and in some cases dummies. Qualitative data collection methods highlighted included focus group discussions (FGDs), semi-structured interviews (SSIs), observations, rapid surveys (RRA, PRA, etc) and case studies.

Role play was used to build and perfect participants skills on listening, conducting interviews and non-verbal communication including gestures and body language.

About 15 participants attended the training session and at the end of the training, participants were appreciative of the fact that their understanding of qualitative research generally improved.

All trainings conducted were generally geared towards bettering and reinforcing of the surveillance and control of PPR and ND affecting poultry and small ruminants of rural farmers in Nigeria. These trainings are a first of many to come as the projects continues and we move to other states. In some weeks to come we will be training Community Animal Health Workers to fully equip them with information, tools and skills to go fully into the field for identifying, diagnosing and reporting PPR and ND cases as well as vaccinating to prevent the diseases.