Delivering essential livestock services to isolated communities in Greater Pibor

John Kakayo Moyaguzul grew up in Gomruk, a village in Greater Pibor, where livestock are central to many people’s lives and livelihoods. Animal diseases are a major threat to pastoralist communities in areas where flooding can be destructive and increase the likelihood of animal disease outbreaks.

In 2001, John received his first training through FAO and became a community animal health worker.

“I am passionate about animals and animal health. I soon started treating the animals owned by my fellow villagers in Gumuruk and other nearby villages”

John’s expertise grew after having attended trainings from various organizations on detecting, reporting and controlling livestock diseases. “I was even among those who participated in the control and eradication of rinderpest through the Pan Africa Rinderpest Campaign”, he said proudly.

In 2009, he completed a year long intensive course at Marial Lou Livestock Training Centre (MLLTC), South Sudan’s center of excellence in Tonj, Warrap State. Since its foundation in 1996, MLLTC provides high-level trainings to para veterinarians from across the country.

“Those who attend training at MLLTC can use their skills to make the difference between life and death of animals for livestock-keeping communities in their villages,” said John who, after the training, developed his knowledge of livestock diseases and was appointed by the Jonglei State Ministry of Animal Resources as a stockperson tasked with supervising 32 animal health workers and training new staff.

John regularly visits all communities to monitor the local animal health situation. “During our visits to cattle camps or villages we examine animals to detect signs of disease and interview livestock keepers on the condition of their livestock.” During the vaccination and treatment campaigns, he receives disease outbreak reports from a team on the ground, which he sends to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and other stakeholders.

In 2015, with his wealth of experience, John decided to open his own drug store in Gumuruk. John’s 18 square meter “Veterinary Drug Store” located in Gumuruk market quickly became a small but essential hub for para veterinarians and cattle keepers from other local villages who visited John’s store to get treatment and medicines for their sick animals.

In May 2021, Gumuruk was hit by widespread violence and intercommunal fighting. “All shops in the market were looted and set on fire by attackers. My store was totally destroyed.” Undeterred, John was able to re-establish his store in Pibor.

Although he needs to bring in medicines from Juba and Uganda, FAO supports him restocking the store, allowing him to never run out of lifesaving drugs and equipment.

“Gumruk or Pibor, no matter where. What matters is that I’m able to provide essential assistance and care to communities whose animals would otherwise die,” said John.

In August 2021, thanks to a project funded by the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, John and his team contributed to FAO’s animal vaccination and treatment campaign in Greater Pibor. FAO vaccinated 2.5 million animals against haemorrhagic septicaemia, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, anthrax, rabies and other deadly livestock diseases. The campaign sought to protect the livelihoods of 300 000 people in Akobo and Pibor (Jonglei State), Aweil South (Northern Bahr el Ghazal State) and Tonj East, Tonj North and Tonj South (Warrap State), counties facing catastrophic or famine-likely levels of food insecurity.

The South Sudan Humanitarian Fund is one of the resource partners of the FAO Emergency Livelihood Response Programme in South Sudan, which aims to protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities by providing livelihood kits, essential farming tools, trainings to maximise their production and essential animal health services. In 2021, thanks to the support of resource partners and energetic workers like John, FAO is vaccinating and treating 11 million animals across South Sudan.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations