AKI Grant benefits One Health & Development Initiative Nigeria
For AKI's 2020 grant program, we asked for innovative proposals that addressed covid-19 issues. One Health & Development Initiative-Nigeria heeded our call and they became one of nine 2020 grantees with their project, “Advancing Pet Welfare.” OHDI's grant project involved:
Launching a hotline platform for pet care and referrals to veterinary and welfare services in Nigeria;
Creating an online pet care directory; and
Holding on-site and virtual training on humane education, pet care, and animal welfare.
The grant from AKI covered six-months of the hotline/whatsapp platform, which was (and continues to be) overseen by certified veterinarians. People can call in or send messages to get quality information and advice on animal care, health and welfare issues, and if necessary, be referred to verified animal welfare and veterinary services in their vicinity.
The directory lists certified and verified animal health and welfare services, shelters, shops, trainers, and veterinary hospitals across Nigeria and serves as a go-to platform for pet owners.
The establishment of the hotline and directory as resources for animal health in Nigeria expands veterinary advice and care to areas and pet owners who normally do not have access to such services, and importantly, helps eliminate quacks who so often contribute to poor animal health and abuse in Nigeria.
Early on during the project, OHDI realized that many of the requests for veterinary advice were from livestock owners, so they expanded their net to include livestock care and welfare.
To kick off the training portion of the project, OHDI visited two communities to determine the most suitable for Humane Education and Animal Welfare training and to implement follow-up project activities. They assessed the Akinyele Community and Pagun Community both in Ibadan, Oyo State. OHDI selected Pagun as the most suitable to hold the trainings because of the many households with different types of animals-dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, pigs, cattle, poultry birds, sheep, and fish and because community members typically provided no proper animal welfare/veterinary attention to their animals. Also, OHDI discovered a vital contact person in the Pagun community who they could count on to support and assist them and interact with community members on OHDI's behalf.
OHDI advertised throughout the Pagun Community by distributing flyers for the one-day training seminar and made and distributed other flyers to inform community members about OHDI's online directory and hotline. The one-day training was a huge success and participants pleaded for more training! (Photo below, training course participants, consisting of pet owners and farm animal owners who wanted to learn how to provide better care for their animals.)
In working with the Pagun community, OHDI discovered how critically important in-person meetings are and decided they should be the first method used (photo below, one of OHDI's community engagement meetings). Once physical contact is made, OHDI found that uptake of their virtual services became more popular and were in constant demand.
Also, one of the key lessons learned from the Pagun community members is that most of them either self-medicate their animals or they rely on "quacks resident in the community to attend to their animals." OHDI was told of several reports of rabid dogs and disease outbreaks on their animal farms due to reliance on people who claim to know how to care for animals but have no proven experience or knowledge.
To better address these challenges, OHDI decided to increase their in-person visits to the Pagun Community to weekly/bi-weekly to provide in-person animal health services and consultations. Together with AKI, we decided this was more important to ensure the eventual success of OHDI's virtual resources rather than conducting another virtual training, which would have less of an impact on animal health and well-being. We agreed that OHDI should zero out the training budget and move those funds to in-person visits.
OHDI's Dr. Edward undertook most of the veterinary visits-and there were many requests for his assistance! (Photos below show some of OHDI's clients in the Pagun community.)
During January, because of the second wave of covid-19 that swept across Nigeria, OHDI was unable to visit or conduct any in-person community activities. But this proved a real test to see how willing the community members were to use OHDI's virtual resources. It turns out that in January, 27 community members reached out to OHDI via their hotline with concerns about their farm animals and pets.
OHDI hopes that in the future, they can scale-up this model to other communities where there is little to no access to animal health services due to their remote location and low-income status and whose residents would welcome the training and veterinary resources.
Upon completing this project, Dr. Kiki Oluwarore wrote to us that "OHDI appreciates the opportunity and support provided to OHDI in implementing this project and looks forward to growing the many outputs of the project for improved animal welfare and health services in Nigeria."
One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI) is a nonprofit organization that works to promote news, education, advocacy, research and project solutions to interrelated issues of human, animal, and ecosystem health through an integrated One Health approach. OHDI's mission is to inform the public, advocate in spaces, and implement One Health solutions to human, animal, and ecosystem health. Their mission is rooted in the belief that public health issues are intertwined across the human, animal, and environmental ecosystems thereby requiring a holistic approach to effective and sustainable solutions.