This week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped initiate a campaign to immunize livestock in Burkina Faso. The goal is to vaccinate 200,000 animals belonging to 30,000 people. Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries is teaming up with the Burkinabé Red Cross Society to remove parasites and cut down on diseases. The campaign is focused in the northern province of Oudalan where an influx of refugees (and their animals) from Mali has bloated the livestock population.
Mali’s ongoing conflict between the military, the government, and the various rebel groups spilled beyond its borders. Over 200,000 Malians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, at least 50,000 of which have ended up in Burkina Faso. With the added weight of refugees comes the livelihoods they carry with them, and in many cases this has meant livestock. Burkina Faso is hardly unfamiliar with the needs of animals. About 57.7% of the country’s land is pastoral and there are over 45,000 poultry, pigs, sheep, goats and cattle owned by citizens. Problems arise, however, when the animals are in tightened quarters and thus more likely to spread and succumb to disease and parasites.
Luckily, the trio of organizations and agencies behind the campaign are addressing the influx in livestock and potential disease. Though it is too early to see what type of progress is made, the concept itself is essential. Ticks, worms and illnesses are particularly problematic in young animals, but have the ability to be devastating to older ones as well. The vast majority of Burkina Faso’s citizens reside in rural areas that rely heavily on agricultural or pastoral means of income. Without proper vaccinations, many people’s livelihoods could fall on hard times via a parasite transferred by passing goats. The trio backing the campaign aims to prevent further hardship on the refugees and citizens by maintaining the health of their livestock and incomes.
– Katey Baker-Smith