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Gender-inclusive training materials to sensitize communities about the benefits of animal vaccines


Women and other marginalized livestock keepers are often excluded or poorly served by animal health service systems. This can create situations where marginalized smallholder farmers lack access to vaccines that protect livestock from potentially devastating diseases. 

In some cases, marginalization is based solely on gender. Women, who make up two thirds of smallholder farmers globally, are often regarded as helpers rather than farmers and are therefore overlooked by service providers. Exclusion can sometimes result from multiple factors, such as a farmer’s ethnicity and caste, remoteness from services and a general lack of access to information. In nomadic pastoral communities, for example, it can be challenging for animal health service providers to find and follow farmers and provide adequate vaccine information and service.   

Four projects supported by the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund in six countries — Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Nepal and Ghana — have explored the barriers that prevent marginalized smallholder farmers from vaccinating their livestock and the kinds of interventions that can remove the barriers. The research teams have developed training and community-sensitization materials targeted at various actors in the community, including veterinarians, animal health workers, individual farmers and others.  

Some materials are designed for train-the-trainer approaches. These are especially effective at expanding and maximizing the reach of key training. Other materials are aimed at animal health workers, who interact with the farming community to pass on knowledge. Still others are targeted directly at community members and often use a picture-based approach to ensure farmers with low literacy understand them. 

The training not only enhances the quality of existing services, but also encourages animal health workers to actively target farmers who may not have received any training in the past. The result is increased uptake by farmers, and communities that are more informed about livestock husbandry and the importance of vaccination. Ultimately, the materials empower farmers to make better decisions about their livestock and livelihoods. 

Here is a brief description of each of the four research projects and samples of the resources and training materials the research teams have produced. 

The SheVax+ project, which is run in Sembabule, Uganda; Nyagatare, Rwanda and Machakos, Kenya, is working with business owners and vaccinators to deliver training that reduces gender barriers — specifically barriers to accessing and benefiting from animal health services and vaccines. The research team is also working to enhance farmers’ knowledge of livestock health and strengthening the vaccine delivery infrastructure. The team has focused on using training and internships to increase women’s access to paid work as community-based animal health workers, vaccinators, veterinarians and livestock advisors. 

The research team has developed written materials aimed at women, men, veterinarians and communities about the benefits of smallholder farming, the importance of women’s roles as farmers and the value of vaccines, including training materials that increase gender awareness in communities. 

Manuals to train animal health professionals: 

  • A gender awareness training manual is designed to sensitize trainers on the valuable role women play in household livelihoods, and their potential to improve livestock production by better managing their herds and vaccinating them. 

Training aids and tools that target vaccine users and farmers: 

  • Highly practical Livestock Vaccination Calendars for Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda (see Uganda Vaccination Calendar 2021–2022 as an example) provide an easy way for farmers to schedule vaccinations and other preventative livestock care, as well as record their animals’ illnesses and deaths, and includes helpful information on livestock health and the importance of women’s roles taking care of animals.  
  • VacZine, Notes from a Wise Woman uses a picture-based approach to educate readers with low literacy about the benefits of livestock farming and the importance of vaccinating animals. It also offers other tips about animal husbandry. Importantly, it encourages men, families and entire communities to work together to support women raising livestock. 
  • Raising chickens at home, another picture-based material, tells the story of a family that buys chicks from a neighbour to raise. It includes illustrated tips for keeping chickens healthy and safe and depicts a community health worker visiting the family when an animal becomes ill.  

A project led by the University of Florida used a gendered intersectional transformative approach to examine how gender and social identity roles such as caste, ethnicity, geographic location, age and disability influence the ways in which livestock keepers participate in the livestock vaccine value chain. To make vaccines more accessible, the research team is training veterinarians to integrate better interpersonal skills into their work and communities are receiving sensitization training, which is showing them the importance of women’s advanced capabilities as livestock keepers. 

This research team developed written materials locally tailored to communities in Nepal, Karamoja in Uganda and Kaffrine in Senegal, based on the language, dress and appearance of the people presented in each training or sensitization product. Products include comics and posters, showcasing appropriate representation and accessibility in training materials: 

Manuals to train animal health professionals: 

  • A facilitation manual trains community animal health workers on gender intersectional transformative approaches with the goal of increasing their capacity to use inclusive approaches in their work with women and other marginalized community members. 
  • A French language instruction manual is designed for use by community animal health workers in Kaffrine to teach communities the importance of women’s roles in caring for livestock and vaccinating animals.  
  • Training manuals for use by community animal health workers include Peste des petits ruminants disease among goats and sheep, which shows the signs and symptoms of the disease in goats; and Safe techniques for animal restraining (also in French), which illustrates safe methods of restraining goats, sheep and cattle. 

Training aids and tools that target vaccine users and farmers with low literacy: 

The Gender-Inclusive Vaccine Ecosystems (GIVE) project is working to understand the economic and socio-cultural barriers that keep women in Makueni County, Kenya, from vaccinating their flocks and small ruminants against preventable diseases, and to understand how to promote vaccine adoption. Key diseases for this research include Peste des petits ruminants and Newcastle diseases. The work focuses on poultry and small ruminants, which are important for women’s economic empowerment. 

The research team is using an experimental design with six intervention arms to test whether adding technical and gender educational components to vaccine delivery can address the gender-based constraints and social norms that prevent women from accessing and benefiting from livestock vaccines. It also addresses vaccine awareness and access. Written materials include the following: 

Manuals to train animal health professionals: 

  • A seven- module gender and nutrition training manual for smallholder farmers covers the topics of sex versus gender, social constructs of gender, gender roles and stereotypes, gender division of labour, malnutrition in the community and improving the minimum acceptable diet. 

Training aids and tools that target vaccine users and farmers: 

  • A brochure explains how timely vaccination against Newcastle disease can improve the productivity of chickens. The brochure includes a vaccination schedule and related information about Newcastle disease and the importance of preventing it. 
  • A brochure on household and community nutrition includes elements about hygiene, such as the importance of hand washing. 

The Women Rear project in Ghana is piloting approaches to increase vaccine uptake among women livestock farmers. The research team is engaging with communities on issues of gender, providing vaccination services and information through a digital platform, and improving vaccine delivery infrastructure. Written materials produced by this research team include the following: 

Manuals to train animal health professionals: 

  • The FFBS livestock toolkit is an exhaustive training manual for facilitators and extension workers who are introducing and implementing the farmer field and business school (FFBS). The material shows animal husbandry, maintenance and livestock-rearing techniques. Modules include role playing, case studies and scenarios to sensitize communities on gender discrimination. 
  • A train-the-trainer manual called Training Guide on Basic Husbandry Practices for Chicken and Goats Production outlines training for project facilitators, women agricultural extension workers and veterinary agents. It includes modules for facilitating training in extension topics related to chicken and goat’s livestock production, husbandry, good practices and animal health. 

Training aids and tools that target vaccine users and farmers: 

  • A Social Analysis and Action (SAA) in Food manual addresses gender and social norms with the goal of increasing productivity, empowerment and equity for women farmers. SAA is a facilitated process where individuals and communities explore and challenge the social and gender norms, beliefs and practices that shape their lives.  
  • The Sensitization on Newcastle disease fact sheet, available in three languages, sets out the symptoms and effects of Newcastle disease in chickens and guinea fowl, including what it costs farmers and other details.  

The Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund is a joint initiative supported by Global Affairs Canada, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and IDRC that works through partnerships to develop vaccines that are affordable, available and acceptable to livestock smallholders, and to facilitate their use at scale, targeting livestock diseases that have the most impact on both women and men livestock smallholders in low- and middle-income countries.