Community-Based Animal Health Workers in Pastoralist Areas of Kenya: A Study on Selection Processes, Impact and Sustainability


The research on community-based animal health workers (CAHW) was undertaken in West Pokot Wajir and Marsabit Districts of Kenya. The objectives of the study were fourfold. First, the study aimed to identify the 'ideal' qualities of CAHWs as perceived by veterinary policy makers and pastoral livestock keepers. Second, it was intended to investigate the relationship between applied selection criteria and selection procedures for CAHWs and the sustainability of CAH systems. The third objective was to evaluate gender issues in the selection of CAHWs. And finally, the fourth objective was to elaborate evidence-based policy recommendations to the appropriate decision makers on the standardisation of CAHW selection, training and supervision procedures with a view of ensuring quality and sustainability of CAH systems. In relation to the stated objectives, the following recommendations emerge from this study:

CAHW candidates

  • Prospective CAHW candidates should combine at least the following three qualities: trustworthiness, commitment and responsibility; these qualities can only be evaluated by community members.
  • The possibility and viability of training illegal drug sellers as CAHWs should be seriously evaluated.

Community awareness and involvement

  • Community awareness of the selection criteria and qualities needed to be eligible as CAHW needs to be improved.
  • The entire community needs to be involved in the selection process and exclusive involvement of opinion leaders, elders or authorities should be avoided. Special attention has to be drawn to women's involvement in the selection process and as well as to their eligibility as candidates
  • The study highlights the need to expand the Kenyan Veterinary Board (KVB) 'Minimum standards and guidelines for the training for CAHWs in Kenya' to include clear directives in relation to the procedures to be followed during the CAHW selection process in order to increase transparency and public and community awareness.

Accreditation and standardization

  • Ongoing initiatives by the Government of Kenya and KVB to recognise and accredit CAHWs should be encouraged by stakeholders.
  • There is a need for a standardised CAHW training curriculum and the minimum requirements are stated in the KVB training manual. These need however to be applied in a way that enables enough flexibility within the curriculum to respond to community priorities in different locations. The KVB should ensure that such flexibility is adopted during implementation of the standardised curriculum.
  • The analysis emphasises the importance of increasing current promotion of (veterinary) public health extension messages in the CAHW curriculum. It is suggested they be considered as minimum requirement as opposed to their current status of suggested requirement.
  • In relation to the integration of the CAHWs in the National Animal Health System, it is suggested that the interactions between CAHWs and their supervisors (either Animal Health Assistants or veterinarians) are further investigated in order to increase motivation and incentives of both players, making the integrated system viable and sustainable.

Financial viability

  • Financial viability of CAH systems is strongly dependent on 'user behaviour'. This refers to community members actively demanding services and willing to pay for them. However, the study found that some communities are not willing to pay for services but think that these should be provided for free by the government and/or NGOs. This attitude needs to be addressed through community education and extension.


PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, 62pp.

Community-Based Animal Health Workers in Pastoralist Areas of Kenya: A Study on Selection Processes, Impact and Sustainability

Published 1 January 2003