U.S. Vaccinates Animals, Trains Veterinarians in Ethiopia
U.S. service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), conducted Veterinary Civil Action Projects in several villages surrounding the city of Dire Dawa May 1 to May 17, 2008. During their visit, the team saw more than 17,000 animals, inoculated them for several diseases, and treated internal and external parasites.
Lieutenant Colonel Bethany Lenderman, a civil affairs officer with CJTF-HOA, says in an area that is so dependent on livestock, the health of the animals is not the only concern.
"The People in these areas use these animals for food," said Lenderman. "Vaccinating the animals and eliminating parasites ensures the food the people eat is healthier, and they will get a better price on the market for the meat. So this helps the Ethiopian people economically as well."
The turnout for the events was surprising for Lenderman. No media advertising was used, yet people came by foot from several miles away to visit the VETCAP site. "In the village of Jeldessa alone we've seen more than double the number of animals we projected," said Lenderman. "That's just a testament to how close-knit these villages are. The word-of-mouth advertising has far exceeded our expectations."
A project of this magnitude could not have been accomplished by the United States alone. Six Ethiopian veterinarians volunteered their time to learn Western veterinary techniques and to apply that learning to assist with the inoculation effort.
The learning was not all on the Ethiopian side. Specialist Christopher McAndrews, a veterinary technician, says he learned about treating livestock from the Ethiopian vets.
"My experience has been with smaller animals," said McAndrews, "It's amazing to watch the vets get in the pin with a 1,000 pound animal and stick it with a needle. They've taught me a lot about animal husbandry and dealing with livestock."
The long-term reward of the VETCAP remains to be seen. The 324th CAB plans to revisit the VETCAP sites to check the progress of the animals they have treated. The benefits of interacting with the local population and training Ethiopian veterinarians how to better care for animals are immediate for those who participated in the events. "I can't express strongly enough how worthwhile and rewarding this VETCAP has been," Lieutenant Colonel Lenderman said. "It's been overwhelming to me. I wish everyone could experience helping the Ethiopian people achieve a better standard of living."