Bokola Kebele[1] is a pastoral village of Oromia Region, Ethiopia. In November 2020, when VSF-Suisse started conducting “One Health facilities capacity assessment” under One Health Units for Human, Environment, Animal and Livelihoods (HEAL) Project inception phase, Bokola veterinary post was found non-functional and abandoned for 6 years period.

Access to veterinary services in Bokola Kebele was unthinkable and the community were travelling at least 30 km to buy veterinary drugs and incurring unnecessary extra costs. During the data collection of the assessment, Multi-Stakeholders Innovation Platform (MSIP) has prioritized animal health issue as a complex problem they were facing and recommended rehabilitation of the Bokola veterinary post and restoring animal health services delivery as systemic intervention. Moreover, VSF-Suisse learned that not only Bokola Kebele community, but also 6 others neighbouring kebeles depend on Bokola veterinary post, signifying that the facility was “a big element at risk”.

Accordingly, in 2021, renovation of Bokola veterinary post had been conducted and establishment of One Health Unit (OHU) – integration of human, animal and environmental health – became complete. VSF-Suisse’s rehabilitation works included renovating the building, fitting it out with new furniture as well as supplying medical drugs and equipment. Moreover, VSF-Suisse facilitated sustainable veterinary services delivery through creating revolving system for vet drugs supply. Provision of the start-up essential drugs along with medical equipment had facilitated and smoothened restoration of the veterinary services which became a turning point and changed a history.“If HEAL project would have not renovated this Bokola vet post, we would have lost all drought survived livestock due to livestock diseases”said Kiyu, the kebele vice chairman. Furthermore, HEAL has facilitated capacity building trainings for OHUs frontline service providers (including animal health assistants, human health professionals, health extension workers, and NRM experts) on one health approach, zoonotic diseases and food safety.

Currently, the Bokola veterinary post, an integral part of Bokola OHU, is serving more than 5000 cattle, 15000 goats and sheep and 300 camels in and around the community. “Through static and mobile/outreach services model, Bokola veterinary post has managed to serve large mass of pastoral community which would have been unreachable”, said Dida Abatanu, the animal health assistant at Bokola veterinary post. The type of animal health services delivered include livestock treatment, vaccination, dehorning, castration, minor surgery, disease surveillance and reporting as well as awareness creation. The community gets the services on fee basis at a reasonable price, whilst revenue is used to replenish the stock periodically. VSF-Suisse occasionally supplies additional veterinary drugs to strengthen animal healthcare financing system, while encouraging the vet post to operate independently and sustainably. According to Guyo Kala, the kebele chairman, livestock morbidity and mortality has been significantly declined. He added: “The health of our animals is the base of our life. We are grateful for the support in rebuilding the post”. This shows the significance of animal health service for pastoralists’ livelihood.

HEAL is a flagship program operating in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, mainly funded by Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and being implemented by VSF-Suisse in collaboration with consortium partners – ILRI and Amref. The project is innovative and first of its kind in Horn of Africa to promote and implement one health approach.

[1] Kebele refers to the smallest administrative sub-division and is equivalent to a district or a restricted rural area.

Wesinew Adugna
Head of Programmes
Jarso Jaldessa
Field Office coordinator
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