By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Speaking to Umoja Standard after the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund National Stakeholders Meeting, Evelyn Baraki, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Program Officer Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund- that is implementing SheVax+ Program stated that the most important issue should focus on sustainability of the project.
“We encouraged women and implementers of the project to focus on sustainability of the project. If it is successful, in case of future funding from government, then actors and key stakeholders are able to take this work on. It shouldn’t rely on donor funding to remain active. Of course, if there is a new phase of funding throughout the year, we can still do. What we have really liked as partners is that the teams have considered that the sustainability of the research,” said Evelyn.
Evelyn Barake, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Program Officer Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
In this engagement, we have discussed ideas on the steps to be taken and how policy recommendations can be implemented and where can the work go next”. She added.
In the same engagement, Professor Hellen Amugun, the Associate Professor at Tufts University and the Project Lead SheVax+ for Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya said, ‘when they first came to Uganda, they met women in the communities whose animals were dying of PPR and Newcastle diseases yet this has vaccine.
(R) Professor Hellen Amugun, the Associate Professor at Tufts University and the Project Lead SheVax+ for Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
She said, ‘the biggest question of the day was then why do women fail to access vaccines?’ She noted that women are small holder farmers who keep chicken and goats. She explained that women play an important role in society because they use this income earned to pay school fees, look after families and contribute to healthcare.
Prof. Amugun revealed that they found out that women had no information on available vaccines. In addition, women did not think they could vaccinate local chicken.They also lacked animal health information, animal health services in their localities and to make matters worse, they lacked cold chains yet vaccines have to be stored at a certain temperature (between 2 and 8 degrees).
(2ndR) Professor Hellen Amugun, the Associate Professor at Tufts University and the Project Lead SheVax+ for Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
She therefore highlighted that the project focused on training animal health service providers to work with rural women so that they can get information on vaccines andanimal health services. She further stated that across all the three countries, they have purchased 30 fridges, installed 24 and the other are with government officials because we work together.
Professor Anthony Mugisha, the Country Team Leader Uganda and CO-Principal Investigator- SheVax+ Project Uganda reiterated the issue of gender stereotypes revealing that in Ssembabule’s two sub counties where SheVax+ project was piloted were infested with untold Gender based violence, subjected to women by man to a ratio of 9/10- meaning that in every 10 families, 9 were facing the vice.
Professor Anthony Mugisha, the Country Team Leader Uganda and CO-PI- SheVax+ Project Uganda. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
Noting that this challenge would affect the implementation of the project, the team, at the inception of the project, decided to bring men on board, trained and encouraged them to put into practice and it became a game changer. “In just a year, men could then decide and reason together with their wives in development issues of the family. Due to this, statistics of cases of gender based violence reduced from 9/10 ratio to 3/10,” said Prof. Mugisha.
He added: “We gave them an exercise of carrying a baby balloon for the day and men confessed how burdensome it is always for women which changed their minds and are now working together.”
Prof. Mugisha revealed that at the inception of this project in Ssembabule, there was very limited vaccination as some had stuck to the norm that ‘when their local chicken get sick, they tie green polythene bags on their wings, thinking it would heal them which is not correct. So we intensified vaccination and now women are seriously rearing goats and chicken in a health way because we offered our community vaccinators with solar fridges’.
“We have also provided solar fridges. For example, we gave out 14 fridges to our community vaccinators, three (3) to government for installation, one (1), to one Sub County which is Mateete, another to Ssembabule district headquarters and another in Ntusi sub county to supplement on private sector and community vaccinators.”
Responding to whether the project would stretch to other cattle corridors, Prof. Mugisha said that their aim is majorly action research by bringing issues on table that government can adopt them and integrate them in its own development and empowerment programmes.
Important to note.
SheVax+ is a project under Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund (LVIF), funded by Canada’ International Development Research Center (IDRC), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) that supports the development of affordable livestock vaccines, targeting diseases that impact women and men livestock keepers, and facilitates their access and use at scale.
It looks at addressing barriers faced by women in livestock vaccine systems and generating new evidence on how they can better benefit and participate in these systems aiming at advancing Women’s Participation in Livestock Vaccine Value Chains in Uganda in Mateete and Ntusi sub counties in Ssembabule district.
The project is research based being implemented by the University of Florida in collaboration with the Makerere University with focus to help women increase use of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccines for their small ruminants in Uganda, as well as Newcastle Disease vaccines for their poultry.
In Uganda, this four-year action research project has been implemented in Sembabule district in partnership between the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and Africa One Health University Network (AFROHUN) together with their implementing partners: Makerere University.
SIMPLE PICTORIAL OF EVENTS AT THE ENGAGEMENT. All Photos by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.