Mixed methods evaluation of targeted selective anthelmintic treatment by resource-poor smallholder goat farmers in Botswana
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol Life Sciences Building, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, United Kingdom; Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, United Kingdom; Elephants for Africa, Maun, Botswana; Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, South Africa; School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, North Somerset, United Kingdom
Due to the threat of anthelmintic resistance, livestock farmers worldwide are encouraged to selectively apply treatments against gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs). Targeted selective treatment (TST) of individual animals would be especially useful for smallholder farmers in low-income economies, where cost-effective and sustainable intervention strategies will improve livestock productivity and food security. Supporting research has focused mainly on refining technical indicators for treatment, and much less on factors influencing uptake and effectiveness. We used a mixed method approach, whereby qualitative and quantitative approaches are combined, to develop, implement and validate a TST system for GINs in small ruminants, most commonly goats, among smallholder farmers in the Makgadikgadi Pans region of Botswana, and to seek better understanding of system performance within a cultural context. After the first six months of the study, 42 out of 47 enrolled farmers were followed up; 52% had monitored their animals using the taught inspection criteria and 26% applied TST during this phase. Uptake level showed little correlation with farmer characteristics, such as literacy and size of farm. Herd health significantly improved in those herds where anthelmintic treatment was applied: anaemia, as assessed using the five-point FAMACHA© scale, was 0.44-0.69 points better (95% confidence interval) and body condition score was 0.18-0.36 points better (95% C.I., five-point scale) in treated compared with untreated herds. Only targeting individuals in greatest need led to similar health improvements compared to treating the entire herd, leading to dose savings ranging from 36% to 97%. This study demonstrates that TST against nematodes can be implemented effectively by resource-poor farmers using a community-led approach. The use of mixed methods provides a promising system to integrate technical and social aspects of TST programmes for maximum uptake and effect. © 2015 The Authors.