Public-Private Partnerships in an Innovation Platform Impacting Pastoral Communities
The Feed the Future Kenya (FTF) Accelerated Value Chains Development (AVCD) program partners with Safaricom, a leading telecommunications company in Kenya, to provide a platform for facilitating animal health disease surveillance in the semi-arid pastoral communities of Northeastern Kenya (Wajir, Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, and Isiolo counties). The Toll-Free Line/Closed User Group (CUG) innovation platform aims to enhance early detection, planning, and timely response to avert animal disease outbreaks, building resilience, food security, and economic growth for these pastoralists. The CUG enables unlimited free communication within the network of subscribed members.
The CUG platform connects 400 project-trained community disease reporters, notably 49 being female, working across five counties to veterinary officers at the sub-county level, agro vets, and the Office of the County Director of Veterinary Services (CDVS) at the county level. Prior to the introduction of this platform, most community disease reporters could not afford to pay for their mobile use to regularly report animal diseases. These reporters are voluntary workers, who can not afford the cost of collecting and reporting animal disease incidences. Through this Feed the Future partnership with Safaricom Limited, the project has not only enhanced the existing network of disease reporters; it has also expanded to recruit more reporters to enhance disease surveillance in animals. In Turkana, a county where the majority of the population relies on livestock, community disease reporters increased from 100 to 500 as a result of the partnership.
While engaging the private sector was initiated by Feed the Future, the local county government quickly adopted the partnership model. FTF AVCD is supporting the initial 6-months subscription of the CUG to Safaricom to allow time for counties to factor the cost into their annual budgets. Thereafter, counties will continue paying annual CUG subscriptions.
While the CUG initiative is still relatively new, there are already promising early results of its impact. Counties are already reporting increased reports, marking increased disease surveillance. In some cases, reporting has doubled both in volume and frequency. Early reporting has also meant that counties are able to monitor and quickly respond when there is a disease outbreak. For instance, in May 2020, there was a sudden outbreak of Lumpy skin disease among livestock in Wajir county, and this was quickly reported through the expanded CUG network. As a result, the disease was contained in time. Without this quick communication and action, thousands of animals could have died before veterinary authorities were alerted to administer vaccinations or treatment. As a pastoral community, the death of a single animal is a serious loss to food, income, and livelihood, which reinforce the vital role that the CUG is playing in reducing such incidences.
Given the promising preliminary results, the AVCD program is keen to develop a case study of this innovation in the future. The program is capturing critical learnings and adapting at every step and is prioritizing strategic knowledge sharing among our stakeholders in line with Kenya’s journey to self-reliance, resilience, and economic prosperity.