ITCs for pastoralists: a mobile information system in Niger
Mobile phones for healthier animals
In 2015, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium started developing and testing a mobile information system for nomadic livestock keepers in Niger and Burkina Faso. When is the right time to give your animals a preventive vaccination? Where can you find a vet? What is the risk of an epidemic? The information system provides the answers to all these questions. It is actually livestock keepers, vets and community animal health workers themselves who feed the system with first-hand information. Local radio stations regularly broadcast the collected information to their listeners.
How exactly does this work? Any livestock keeper with a mobile phone can call an interactive hotline, where he can listen to a voice message which says for instance: ‘For information about grasslands, press 1. For information about water points, press 2.” The interactive hotline provides information about the condition of grasslands and water points, where transhumance corridors are located for the nomadic herds, the market price of livestock, the date on which the crop fields are released for the herds, etc. This is all based on information which the livestock keepers have provided to the information system, which then turns it into a voice message.
In the event of transmission of emergency information, traditional leaders, technical government staff and private vets receive a spoken text message on their mobile phones. They must provide this information to the livestock keepers in their region as quickly as possible. For example, it may involve epidemics which are spreading like wildfire, or conflicts in a specific area. The information is always checked first either by the veterinary government services or the police respectively.