Knowledge Catches Up With Nomads

A Kuchi nomadic herder at a USAID training in livestock veterinary care.
A Kuchi nomadic herder at a USAID training in livestock veterinary care.
Better veterinary care leads to stronger herds for Afghan Kuchi nomads
USAID is teaching Kuchi nomads how to treat common livestock diseases when veterinary care is out of reach. Obaidullah is a Kuchi nomad who tends a herd of more than one hundred sheep and goats. Each year, he follows the migratory routes established centuries ago by his tribe—a foot journey of more than 750 km through the mountains of central Afghanistan. Like most members of his tribe, he has no formal education and only limited access to veterinary care. The survival of his herd therefore depends on his ability to quickly recognize and treat infectious diseases.
“I lost 60 sheep last year because of an outbreak of worms,” he said. “Can you imagine what it is like to watch your animals die one by one and you can’t do anything about it?”
Obaidullah is one of dozens of Kuchis participating in a USAID project that provides training in basic veterinary care to nomadic herders. Kuchi participants learn how to inject vaccines, treat for worms, and identify respiratory diseases and other ailments. Graduates are then qualified to train other herders.
“I want to teach and help other people,” Obaidullah said. ”I may not be a doctor, but I can help members of my tribe if they have problems with their animals. I have learned about the signs and symptoms of diseases like black leg, anthrax, and other diseases. I know which medicines to use and how to treat the problems when medicine is not available.”
The training is especially valuable during migratory periods when Kuchis are often far away from veterinary care.
Early detection and prevention of common disease helps to maintain sustainable herds. “Anything can happen when you’re up in the mountains. Animals can contract tuberculosis or rabies and if you don’t respond quickly, the problem can spread through the entire herd,” said Obaidullah.
A stronger herd means a more stable source of income for Kuchi herders. Through its training component, USAID provides livestock farmers with basic skills that can build stronger herds and better livelihoods. The training is a part of USAID’s continuous assistance in building a stronger agricultural economy for Afghan farmers.

Last updated: January 12, 2015

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