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About thirty years ago the financial, logistic and manpower resources of veterinary and animal production services in the developing world were stretched to the limit. Epizootic disease control was their main and often only field activity, which left livestock owners to manage their daily production and health problems alone. To meet their requirements, Veterinary Services in these countries came under increasing public and political pressure to modify and adjust their approaches.
This gave rise to a series of workshops in Africa (e.g. Bujumbura in Burundi and Blantyre in Malawi) and South-East Asia (e.g. Singapore, and Khon Kaen in Thailand), most of which were organised and facilitated by the German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit) in close collaboration with French and British development co-operation agencies and universities. These workshops stimulated discussion with the key stakeholders and, thus, were most beneficial in supporting the process of developing alternative approaches.
This paper reports in particular on the outcomes of the regional workshops held in Bujumbura, Burundi, in 1984, Blantyre, Malawi, in 1985, Bangui, Central African Republic, in 1988, Khon Kaen, Thailand, in 1989, Schmitten, Germany, in 1991, and Mzuzu, Malawi, in 1996 and 2000.
For more than two decades, concepts of community based livestock services in general, and primary animal health activities (PAHAs) in particular, have been developed and established in various developing countries. Over the years the PAHA concept has proved to be effective and has shown that livestock keeping communities clearly benefit from such programmes.
In presenting key features from some prominent and successful project examples (GTZ supported projects in Thailand, Malawi and Somalia) it can be demonstrated that such approaches are not static but rather dynamic, requiring open minded innovative partners on both sides. Over the last few years, the delivery of PAHA has become the domain of non-governmental organisations. The propagation and application of this approach in various developing countries with limited veterinary infrastructure is supporting a privatisation process within the existing governmental veterinary structures, thus, allowing veterinary departments more freedom to focus on their core functions.