How are women more vulnerable to climate change? Do women really make up the majority of the poorest around the world? And how can development programs best meet the needs of women and other vulnerable groups in agriculture?
Vets without Borders was able to join discussions on these topics amongst eminent leaders such as Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and Prof. Sir Gordon Conway of Imperial College London, at a conference organised by the CGIAR and partners in Paris last week.
Mary Robinson talks about women and men in positions of power opening up space for diverse voices in this audio extract:
Other talks looked at the value of women’s empowerment indicators in evaluating impact (eg. see OECD’s discussion of gender empowerment measures ), and of the role women can play in innovative technology development around agricultural processing (Smallholder women’s empowerment through farmer-participatory design and user-led innovation of labour-saving tools in Malawi, Presenter: Una Murray, National Uni of Ireland Galway).
More than half way through the Field Building Leadership Initiative, it is exciting to meet 50 of the regional researchers from China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam who are spearheading Ecohealth research in their countries.
From reducing hazardous pesticide use in China to developing herb-based alternative medicines for cattle in Indonesia, this research is looking at new ways of building sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions to agriculture in urbanising environments.
The annual meeting of the FBLI in Danang, Vietnam this February was also a chance to recap on the successes of Ecohealth capacity building, with Ecohealth now being taught in universities in China and Vietnam. The Ecohealth trainer manual produced by VWB in 2013 is also being widely used and will be translated into 4 national languages this year – https://ecohealth.vetswithoutborders.ca
RECRUITMENT: Veterinarians without Borders-Canada, with its partners, is seeking a mid-term evaluator for the project Improving Rural Livelihoods and Food Security in Laos and Cambodia (Foodlive Camlao).
The project aims to build animal health capacity in a total of 19 villages in Laos and Cambodia, through training and mentoring of animal heatlh workers/extension farmers, livelihoods support to farmers, and making linkages between human, animal and environmental health issues.
The evaluator will work closely with project team members to co-implement a review of project monitoring and evaluation processes, and to provide recommendations for assessing outcomes and impacts during and beyond the project. The evaluator should be based in Southeast Asia, ideally in Laos or Cambodia.
The mid-term evaluation will ideally be carried out in September-October 2014.
After the first crop production training for Dounien village, 6 volunteer model farmers started planning their new activities. Working closely with mentors, they have decided to start with Good Agricultural Practices :
“practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products” (FAO COAG 2003 GAP paper)
This way they can build on their own experience in growing a wide range of vegetables which include onion, eggplant, spinach, morning glory, watermelon, papaya and cucumber.
At last weekend’s meeting, each farmer developed a cropping plan and the project mentors discussed with them the kinds of materials they will require and how to source good quality seeds. The next steps will be building a greenhouse and preparing the family plot. Let’s see what happens next.
Tasting organic long beans from the organic farm Admiring water sprinklers at organic farm
The world of organic can be over-whelming: procedures, certification, testing. Not an easy-access option for small farmers keen to try new farming techniques.
That’s why Vets without Borders and FoA organised an introductory 3-day training for farmers in Dounien village to show them the ropes, explain what is meant by organic and ‘good agricultural practices’ (GAP) and experiment with making their own compost.
The visit to Ban Thaxang, a local organic farm set up 3 years ago and run by 20 households, showed what all this can look like in practice, and gave participants a real vision for dreaming big.
Trainer Ms Phimmasone said “The participants already have animals and some land, but they didn’t know how to make organic compost and use natural pest control. Now they have seen how others are doing it, it will help them to try it themselves”.
Co-trainer Mr Sayvisen added “The next step will be to actually try these new approaches in their own farms. We don’t want to just stop at training, we will help them prepare for new and growing markets”.
For lunch the workshop group tasted samples of fresh water spinach from Ban Thaxang and everyone got to take some vegetables home.
Over the new few weeks, group members will volunteer to work as model farmers to try out these new techniques in their backyards.
Between November 23 to December 7, 2012, 1,393 dogs, 121 cats and 1 monkey were vaccinated against rabies. According to the dog count provided, this means we vaccinated 75% of the dog population, in line with the 70% recommended for mass rabies vaccination campaigns.
Thanks to the team from NUOL, volunteer students, partners and the PAHWs for all their hard work! And thanks to photographers Ernest Goh, Chung Hua Siong and Ore Huiying for their wonderful photos! We are excited that the Lao government is developing a Rabies Eradication Strategy and will be happy to share information from our campaign to support this initiative.
Rabies vaccination campaign. Top, Senoudom village. Bottom, Veunten village. Photography by Ore Huiying/ The Animal Book Co.
In Uganda, women are limited in their property and ownership rights. Goats are one of the few animals that women can own. For women and children, many of whom have lost husbands and fathers to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Vets Without Borders Uganda Goat Pass-on Project is providing an essential way for women to make a living and support their children through school.
Janet lives in Mbarara, Uganda. In 2008, she became the proud owner of a dairy cross goat thanks to her participation in the VWB/VSF Goat Pass-On Project, which helps to improve the health and well-being of Ugandan families. The program model provides a pregnant goat to a family and they keep first born goat kid, return the second born kid to the program for another household. With each additional goat kid born, the family can decide whether to keep the goat or use it to take out a micro-loan to use for school fees, medical bills or to start a business. This photo was taken in the summer of 2012, where Janet is proudly holding the latest goat kid addition to the family. For the last five years your donations have helped Janet to become a para-veterinarian, a model farmer for her community, secretary for the Goat Pass-On Group and Chairperson for the Micro-loans Group enabling her to better provide for her children and their future.
What makes us take health messages seriously? What motivates us to change our behaviour, since just knowing isn’t enough?
These are challenges facing the team in Laos when working on a host of issues related to human, animal and environmental health. By collaboratively developing a series of games, presentations and videos, the team put together a health promotion package which allowed community members to see, read, hear, play and enact a range of learnings around community health.
Between July and August this year we held 11 Community Health Days in Houychiem community and received fantastic feedback from the villages, all of whom have asked for more next year! The educational games were a popular activity, allowing adults and children alike to reflect on the value of livestock vaccination, malaria prevention and forest conservation. A full evaluation of the Health Days and the most effective health messages conveyed is now being undertaken by Lauren Crawshaw, our field-based intern and will help us prepare even better next year.