Using ethnoveterinary medicine in development

Evelyn Mathias, October 2001
bullet Source of appropriate technologies
bullet Basis for a common ground
bullet Input into monitoring and evaluation
bullet Source of human resources 

Source of appropriate technologies

Ethnoveterinary technologies can be the starting point for drug and technology development. Ideally, information obtained from local people should be used within the communities of its origin to ensure that they benefit from their own knowledge. Or a selected remedy can be improved outside of the community through pharmacological and clinical research and then be returned, ‘value-added’, to its place of origin. 

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Basis for common ground

Understanding local approaches to animal healthcare and production and being familiar with the information people have can facilitate the planning and implementation of appropriate projects and training efforts. For example, herders’ information on disease prevalence and importance can help focus disease-control programmes on those problems the herders see as most pressing.

Using the same vocabulary reduces the chances of misunderstandings and facilitates better communication between technical personnel and local people. It can also enhance the trust local people have in a livestock project or service office. If farmers or herders feel they are respected, they may be more ready to listen to the outsider’s advice and work with the outsiders. 

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Input into monitoring and evaluation

Ethnoveterinary medicine can contribute to monitoring and evaluation. For example, farmers are commonly well aware of the amount of medicinal plants growing in their area. They also have criteria for the ‘wellness’ of their environment. These criteria can serve as the baseline for monitoring the effects of increased plant use on the local flora. Besides, farmers daily observe their animals and can therefore provide excellent inputs for monitoring the success of treatments. 

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Source of human resources

Development efforts can build on the human resources that hold and develop ethnoveterinary knowledge. Knowledgeable livestock keepers and local healers are repositories of knowledge and valuable partners in community-based animal healthcare and other livestock development activities.

IIRR 1996, Martin et al. 2001

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