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Women at the forefront to protect their livelihoods in Somalia

Somalia is currently facing a severe drought, which has been ongoing for several years.

Posted on 06 Mar 2023

The majority of the people from Gedo region rely on livestock, agriculture, small and medium enterprises to meet their basic food and health needs. Approximately half of the population sells animals or animal product like milk and use the money to pay for food, health services, and school fees. They also use the milk and meat from their livestock to feed their families.

Recurrent drought, conflict and insecurity have led to a lack of quality animal health services in the region. In addition, in recent years, rainfall in the region has been inadequate, leaving the livestock with insufficient food and water. This has resulted in weak immune systems and an increase in livestock diseases and deaths in the region.

The Danish Refugee Council's Building Opportunities for Resilience in the Horn of Africa (BORESHA) project supported the establishment of new Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) and trained existing animal health professionals in Belet-hawa District, Gedo region in an effort to meet the demand for quality animal health services.

The community in Belet-hawa heavily relies on livestock to meet their basic needs. Inadequate animal herds could potentially lead to negative coping mechanisms as the unpredictable extended drought conditions persist.

The selected community members were trained by professionals on basic veterinary clinical skills and business management.

The CAHWs provide basic services and give husbandry advice to livestock keepers. Livestock treatment, a job that is often regarded as male dominated has found new interest among women in the community.

Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

Becoming a community animal health worker and working for my community is an achievement that I am very proud of. It gave me a sense of purpose and a mission in life. Knowing that I have the ability to contribute towards the well-being of our livestock gives me immense satisfaction. I provide treatment to sick animals and receive numerous phone calls from different neighborhoods to diagnose animals’ health issues.

/  Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

Meet Zamzam, breaking the bias to pursue a male-dominated profession

Meet Zamzam, breaking the bias to pursue a male-dominated profession

Zamzam Abdi, a 33-year-old mother of four children, is determined to break the bias. Through her training, she has taken up the challenge and works hard to save livestock in her community.

In an effort to build resilience among pastoralist communities through strengthening animal health services, the BORESHA project has been working with the local authority and the private sector to improve animal health services in Belet-Hawa.

Zamzam was among 30 members (5 being women) who were trained in community mobilization, livestock disease surveillance, clinical examination of livestock health problems, drug administration and reporting livestock treated, drugs administered, and reporting disease outbreaks.

Since her training, inquiries have increased within her community and people call her to check up on their sick animals.

However, she has faced quite a number of challenges where sometimes people decline her services because they want male professionals to treat their livestock. She is confident that soon, more people will regard women equally, as she strives to break the gender bias.

Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

As CAHWs, we take our responsibility very seriously, we are not only keeping animals alive by way of treatment but also making them healthier and much more productive. Families in my community are now getting more milk and safe meat because they are more aware of drug withdrawal periods, better income and certainly my family is one of those.

/  Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

In the Somali nomad culture, livestock treatment and vaccination is often regarded as a male-dominated job.

Zamzam and her female workmates the narrative in their community encouraging more women to join the profession.

Zamzam and her colleagues have so far responded to 37 cases and are among a group of 12 CAHWs preparing to undertake the mass animal treatment and deworming campaign in an area that is targeting over 50,000 animals.

The services they provide are improving the health of animals in the towns and villages, raising the average income, nutritional status and making the lives of households better.

Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

As a woman who owns livestock, there is nothing as painful as having no control over the health of your animals and worst off, watching them die in front of your eyes. The pain is unbearable and heartbreaking. I have personally lost animals due to preventable diseases and wish that this training had come much earlier.

/  Zamzam, a trained community animal health worker in Gedo, Somalia

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