Following the outbreak of a cattle pestilence disease in Gutu District, community members who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s Community Accountability Action Teams (CAATs) on 7 October 2020, mobilized their local community for a virtual dialogue with representatives from the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services.
The objective of the dialogue was to create a platform for communities to interface with representatives from the veterinary department in the wake of the cattle disease and share ideas on how best the outbreak can be contained. The dialogue was attended 150 people including Traditional leaders, Councillors, representatives from the Department of Livestock and Veterinary services and ordinary community members. Over a period of three years, community members have lost thousands of livestock to the disease. Speaking at the dialogue, one community member highlighted that there was need for the Department of Livestock and Veterinary services to raise awareness within communities and find lasting ways of containing the disease.”This cattle disease has killed thousands of our livestock, at one point we used drugs recommended by the Veterinary Department but the situation continued unabated. It would be better if the Department can raise awareness on this disease the same way government has raised awareness on COVID 19,” said one community member. Community members also highlighted that the disease has eroded their savings and make communities rely solely on food aid which can become a source of conflict.”Livestock acted as a buffer for us during this biting harsh economic environment but it is sad that we continue to lose some of our livestock to this disease. Added to this we rely on livestock for drought power and this disease threatens our livelihoods and food security. In the end we will rely heavily on food aid which can become a source of violent conflicts given the adverse effects of climate change on us as farmers”, said another community member. It also came out during the dialogue meeting that some community members were selling dead carcasses of livestock to some unscrupulous business people who are selling the meat in their butcheries thereby posing health hazards to community members.
As part of resolutions, the dialogue resolved that the Veterinary services were supposed to raise awareness on the livestock pandemic as a way of containing the further spread of the disease. The District Veterinary Services Officer promised to give feedback to communities after consulting the Provincial Veterinary Office on issues raised by the community during the dialogue. The dialogue also tasked community members to consult widely on the disease by engaging other government Ministries including the Ministry of Health and Child Care so as to initiate a multi-sectoral approach to help contain the disease. The virtual dialogue platforms by Heal Zimbabwe are meant to facilitate for local level conversations as well as build socially cohesive communities in the wake of COVID 19.