ICRC says animal-health campaign helps 43,000 Somali livestock herders

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday it has just completed a major animal- health campaign in the north of Somalia where it teamed up with the Somali livestock and animal husbandry authorities to help 43, 000 livestock herders.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, international aid agency said many herders find their livelihood at risk because a lack of reliable veterinary services, together with conflict-related security concerns and natural disasters, is forcing them to stay on the move.

"Livestock are exceptionally important for communities in these areas, who depend heavily on them for their income and food security," said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia.

"Displaced herders have been severely affected by limited access to traditional nomadic routes, grazing areas, water points and veterinary services," said Vial.

Loss of livestock, which is the main source of livelihood for at least 4.2 million people in Somalia, before the July 2011 famine saw thousands of people slip into crisis and emergency.

According to the Food Security Cluster of the UN World Food Program, livestock and its related trade support pastoralists and agro-pastoralists that make up more than half of Somalia's population.

The ICRC said the campaign which benefited 43,000 people economically dependent on these animals saw 700,000 head of camels, sheep and goats being examined and if necessary treated for parasites or other health problems in the Togdheer, Nugaal, Sool and Sanaag regions.

"This campaign benefits displaced herders and their host communities," said Mohamed Sheikh Ali, who coordinates the ICRC's economic security programs in the country.

"It will help the herders protect the assets on which their livelihood depend by reducing the incidence of animal disease while at the same time increasing the market value of the livestock, which in turn will improve their economic security," Ali said.

The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society, which together provided the veterinary medicines used by the livestock and animal husbandry authorities to treat the animals, have access to the people in northern areas thanks to their neutral and impartial approach involving dialogue with everybody concerned. Endi

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