An Assessment tie economic Viability of Private Animal Health Service Delivery in Pastoral Areas of-Kenya--.pdf
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Livestock keeping is an essential component of the economic well-being of people in sub-Saharan Africa. It provides food, manure, traction, hides and skins, wool and economic security and also contributes to the cultural and social standing of the livestock owners. Researchers have said the following on the subject: - In most of the sub-Saharan Africa, induding Kenya, the public sector has been the major or exclusive provider of veterinary services until the last quarter of the 1980s. Direct state involvement was then justified not on economic ground but on grounds of social equity and the fact that the private sector was still very weak in these countries (Holden et al, 1996; Ross, 1992; Umali et al, 1992 and Jarvis, 1998). However, the government can no longer offer these services because of budgetary constraints and fiscal deficits resulting in structural adjustment programs. As a result, the availability and quality of veterinary services has declined. This has necessitated a change of policy allowing the private sector to participate and promote the delivery of animal health services. The role of the private sector as an alternative to government veterinary service delivery is gaining recognition. The government aims to reduce the financial burden and ostensibly improve the efficiency of service delivery through the private sector. Consequently, the state hopes that owing to the economic nature of veterinary services, farmers who enjoy direct services such as artificial insemination (Al), dipping, drug delivery, among others, will pay for them. The riding factor has been the question of public good against private good. The need for improved delivery of animal health services in the ASAL has been high because: - o Kenya's ASAL accounts for 50% of cattle, 70% of shoats, and 100% of camels (Brown, 1994). o The economic base of pastoral Kenya depends on livestock and livestock products. To this end, 60% of their incomes mainly accrue from the sale of livestock and livestock products (Chenyalew and Suleiman, 1996). o The nomadic lifestyles of the pastoralists render conventional delivery of animal health services inappropriate and ineffective. o Harsh climatic conditions, poor infrastructure, weak monetary economy and risky, conflict prone environmental conditions have made the Kenyan ASAL less attractive to the private veterinarians and paraveterinarians. o Improved delivery of animal health services induding disease control is critical and mandatory to facilitate the marketing of livestock and livestock products in the ASAL. o Livestock production and productivity depends on animal health. Improved delivery of animal health services means improved livestock production and productivity. o The risk of contracting zoometric diseases such as anthrax, rabies, brucellosis and Rift Valley fever and others is relatively high in pastoral areas. Public health concerns on the issue calls for improved delivery of animal health service as a strategy to minimise the risk. Community-based animal health delivery systems are popular forms of service delivery that are effective in the ASAL and pastoral areas for nearly two decades, yet this system has not been recognised within the existing legal and policy framework. However, in the last three years, significant progress has been made in gaining broad acceptance of this system. The Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) and the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) have worked with relevant stakeholders to review and update livestock sector policy. The new policy now calls for partnership in service delivery involving the government, the private sector and the beneficiaries thus recognising the role of the various animal health service providers.