MONITORING AND IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF COMMUNITY-BASED ANIMAL HEALTH PROJECTS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN

TOWARDS PARTICIPATORY APPROACHES AND METHODS

A Report for Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium and Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Switzerland.

Andy Catley, Vetwork UK and PAVE Project, IIED.

SUMMARY

The non governmental organisations Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium (VSF-B) and Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Switzerland (VSF-CH) have been implementing community-based animal health (CAH) projects in southern Sudan since 1995 and 1994 respectively. These projects fall within the UNICEF-Operation Lifeline Sudan Southern Sector Livestock Programme which aims to improve the food security of people in southern Sudan by developing community-based approaches to veterinary service delivery. The programme focuses on rinderpest control and the prevention or treatment of a limited range of locally-prioritised animal health problems. Important contextual features in southern Sudan include long-term conflict, dilapidated infrastructure and a human population which has faced repeated displacement and severe food shortages over many years. In aid circles, these features of southern Sudan are sometimes summarised using the term "complex emergency situation". Agropastoralism and pastoralism involving varying degrees of transhumance are the key livelihood strategies in southern Sudan and livestock make substantial contributions to both food production and social systems.

Considering the operational constraints in southern Sudan, the UNICEF-OLS/SS Livestock Programme within which VSF-B and VSF-CH operate has achieved impressive results in terms of numbers of livestock vaccinated and treated, community-based animal health worker training programmes and geographical coverage of a basic animal health service. Hence, from a technical or "outsider" perspective the programme is often perceived to be working well. However, three important issues arise regarding ways to assess the impact of the programme in more detail:

- Local people have their own, often complex perspectives and world view. Donors and NGOs need to acknowledge that these perspectives matter and that in community-based services, local people can be involved in all stages of the "project cycle", including monitoring and evaluation. In the long-term, the control and use of information in community-based services should reside with local people and institutions.

- Operational and funding constraints limit the capacity of NGOs to use conventional, production-orientated research methods to understand relationships between livestock disease and productivity. The complexity of human food production and consumption, and lack of baseline data on the animal health situation in southern Sudan also limit options for formal, quantitative research or surveys.

- As the overall aim of the animal health inputs is to improve food security, the programme might improve understanding of the links between livestock disease and the food consumed by communities in southern Sudan. At present there is sometimes an assumption that healthier or more numerous animals provide food-related benefits to people.

Due to these and other issues, VSF-B and VSF-CH are investing in the development of participatory monitoring and impact assessment (pm&ia) approaches which might complement their existing methods for assessing change in project areas. A facilitator from Vetwork UK and the Participation and Veterinary Epidemiology (PAVE) Project, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) to work with project staff. This report details the development of participatory monitoring and impact assessment methods in the community-based animal health projects of VSF-B and VSF-CH in southern Sudan, from 7th to 27th February, 1999.

Part One of the report summarises a two-day workshop with VSF-B and VSF-CH livestock staff which aimed to review existing monitoring systems, introduce some of the basic principles of pm&ia and design a pilot pm&ia system for testing with communities in Ganyliel and Tonj, southern Sudan. The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to analyse what they were already doing, learn about alternative approaches and practice some tools and methods.

Part Two of the report details the results arising from the use of pm&ia methods in Ganyliel and Tonj. This part of the report includes information on the methods used and the modifications which occurred in the field. A key aspect of this methodology development was learning to ask the right questions in the right way and focussing on a limited number of key indicators to measure local perceptions of change.

Part Three of the report summarises the main lessons learned and suggests how pm&ia might complement the monitoring and impact assessment systems which are currently being used by VSF-B and VSF-CH in southern Sudan. A key issue is for VSF-B and VSF-CH to distinguish between those processes which they need to control verses those which should be handed over to local players. This distinction requires understanding of the difference between the use of participatory tools by outsiders to satisfy their information needs (in other words, superficial participation) and support to community-level forums which enables them to develop their own methods for measuring change (i.e. more involved participation). To a large extent, the decision to invest in the latter will depend on the capacity of local players such as Veterinary Coordinating Committees, local administrations or other institutions. In areas where these bodies are well-established, have important decision-making power and are able to handle and account for resources, there may be opportunities to introduce pm&ia systems.

In summary this work demonstrated that simple participatory tools, when used in the right way, can yield very useful information on key local indicators of change and benefit. The tools have the advantage of cutting through multiple variables and produce an overall, local picture of events and outcomes which are related to project activities. This approach seems to be particularly relevant in southern Sudan considering both the operational constraints and the limited capacity of even the major agencies to conduct conventional, systematic research based on the scientific paradigm. While conventional methods and data should not be ignored, pm&ia can certainly complement these systems and perhaps provide practical and cost-effective tools which are appropriate in a community-based programme. The tools can be used by women, men and children.

The brief findings presented in Part Two of the report indicate that the animal health projects implemented by VSF-B and VSF-CH make important contributions to the lives of people in project areas. These benefits include both socio-cultural benefits arising from indigenous social support systems and marriage, and improved food security of people which is largely related to milk supply. The local perceptions of change described in the report may seem dramatic but such findings are not unusual in communities who prioritise livestock assets and who until the early 1990s, had limited access to modern, primary veterinary services.

The report is about 60 pages in length.

How to obtain a copy of this report.

The report contains many graphics and some photographs which do not transmit well as e-mail attachments. Hence, if you would like a copy of the report please contact Andy Catley, PAVE Project, c/o PO Box 30786, Nairobi, Kenya. tel: +254 2 226 447; fax: +254 2 253689. e-mail: Catley@bigfoot.com


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