FAR's Community Animal Health Worker and Agricultural Extension worker programmes
In Melut, FAR's activities seek to go beyond the emergency relief the region has relied upon for years and focus on livelihoods development and food security.
Four farmers from each of the seven payams (districts) in Melut County were selected by community leaders to participate in professional development as Agricultural Extension Workers and Community Animal Health Workers.
In FAR's Agricultural Extension Workers training programme, participants learn valuable skills, such as seed saving, irrigation and crop rotation, and about new plant and tree species particularly suited to the ecology of the region. Many of the trainees are young adults who have recently returned to their villages after years of displacement in Khartoum or refugee camps abroad. Having spent much of their youth away from the land, they have not had the full opportunity to acquire the agricultural skill necessary to grow their communities out of food insecurity. After their training is completed, they will be able to use the skills and knowledge for the benefit of the whole community as local government's agricultural extension experts.
In rural Sudan, livestock hold great financial and social capital. In addition to their value as food, animals act as emergency savings when families need to buy food during the dry season, or pay for medical and school fees or marriage dowries. Unfortunately, with the decrease in general knowledge on animal health, keeping livestock has become less of a secure investment. According to FAR's Livestock & Animal Husbandry Manager, Augustino Nyadhok, people in Melut feel powerless to protect their animals from diseases, as animal health services are non-existent in six of the seven payams in Melut, resulting in unnecessarily high rates of mortality. FAR's community animal health worker training programme is breaking this cycle by empowering a new generation of animal health professionals who can treat, diagnose and prevent animal disease. FAR provides them with in-depth training, basic equipment and tools and a promise from the local government to employ them as community animal health workers once their training is complete.
Since the completion of basic training, trainees have returned home and are using their new skills to mobilize and educate their communities in the hope of sowing more productive farms and rearing healthier animals.
By Chris Mariano, Training Manager, Upper Nile