Nairobi/Geneva — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working with the Somali livestock and animal husbandry authorities, has just completed a major animal-health campaign in the north of Somalia.
Around 700,000 head of camels, sheep and goats were examined and if necessary treated for parasites or other health problems in the Togdheer, Nugaal, Sool and Sanaag regions. The campaign benefited over 43,000 people economically dependent on these animals.
Many herders find their livelihoods at risk because a lack of reliable veterinary services, together with conflict-related security concerns and natural disasters, is forcing them to stay on the move.
"Livestock are exceptionally important for communities in these areas, who depend heavily on them for their income and food security," said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. "Displaced herders have been severely affected by limited access to traditional nomadic routes, grazing areas, water points and veterinary services."
The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society, which together provided the veterinary medicines used by the livestock and animal husbandry authorities to treat the animals, have access to the people in northern areas thanks to their neutral and impartial approach involving dialogue with everybody concerned.
Mohamed Sheikh Ali, who coordinates the ICRC's economic security programmes in the country, explains: "This campaign benefits displaced herders and their host communities. It will help the herders protect the assets on which their livelihoods depend by reducing the incidence of animal disease while at the same time increasing the market value of the livestock, which in turn will improve their economic security."
The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977 in close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society. It provides emergency and long-term support with the aim of strengthening community self-reliance. In addition, it promotes compliance with international humanitarian law and monitors the treatment detainees receive and the conditions in which they are held.