20 March 1998

Where the camel is king

NOMADIC herders in Ethiopia and the north of Kenya depend upon camels. They are the providers of their basic food and raw materials, as well as transport.

Camels milk is extremely rich and often the herders staple food. Camel meat is also important to the people of these arid and semi-arid regions whose diet seldom includes fruit or vegetables. The hides are also used extensively.

Because they can go without water for 14 days or more, camels are able to range far for their food and they make little impact on the environment.

FARM-Africa has been helping camel herders in the north of Kenya for the past 10 years by providing training in basic animal health care, camel husbandry and improved human health care.

The charity is now beginning work with some of the 5m people who inhabit the rangelands of the Afar region of north-east Ethiopia. Here it has the support of the Ethiopian government and the Council of the Regional Government of the Afar National Region which has invited FARM-Africas help. Improving veterinary services is the aim of the new project. Camel herders will receive training in the basic veterinary care of their animals and the rural drug suppliers will be taught disease diagnosis and small business management.