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Impact of Formal and informal interventions in the control of Rift Valley Fever Disease in Thika and Marigat COunties, Kenya

ABSTRACT This study involved finding out how an outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) and the control measures put up impact on the community. These control measures include vaccinations, quarantine, closure of markets and ban of sale, slaughter and consumption of animals. The study also aimed at determining the perceived impact of the vaccines administered as part of control measures. Furthermore, since little is known about the knowledge capacity of the farmers regarding RVF, there was also the need to find out if these communities had indigenous knowledge relevant to various aspects of the disease and its control. The other aim of this study was to assess the farmers’ knowledge of the disease, its risk factors, various traditional management practices and their perception on the formal control measures instituted by the government. The study took place in two areas, one a pastoral community in Marigat District in the Rift Valley province and the other a dairy farming community in Thika District in Central Province. From these two locations the study aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the control measures put up during the recent outbreaks both the formal that includes conventional methods and informal traditional methods; and also assess the risk factors to RVF outbreaks. The data were collected at two levels; primary data collection using sample collection and evaluations, questionnaires and interviews and secondary data collection using information from government offices. The data was then analyzed using specifically Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Some of the important findings from the study are as follows;
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Most of the farmers from the two communities, Thika and Marigat, were aware of the disease more so those in Marigat as they experienced the disease more in their livestock and family members than in Thika. Although the farmers were quite aware of the disease to them it was a relatively new disease and thus they did not have traditional methods of predicting, managing or controlling the disease and relied on the treatment and control options provided by the government. The disease and the control options instituted by the government against RVF impacted on the social, cultural and economic activities of the communities affected more so in Marigat than in Thika as they greatly relied on the animals for their sustenance and income. They also lead to loss in income and interference to their cultural ceremonies including circumcision and oloibon ceremonies as these required the slaughter of animals as part of the ceremony. Marigat had more risk factors to the spread of the disease than Thika due to the terrain with presence of dambos that collected water when it rained leading to increase and maturation of the disease transmitting vector, Aedes mosquitoes, thus leading to wide spread of the disease. Another risk factor observed was the handling of the infected animals where most farmers chose to treat the sick animals themselves exposing themselves to infection while in Thika they chose to consult an animal health assistant or veterinary doctor. Due to the traditional activities of the famers in Marigat, they slaughtered their animals for various ceremonies and this lead to them handling the infected carcasses and some consuming the meat leading to spread of the infection. This was more due to ignorance as they did not know the dynamics of the disease regarding its spread and transmission.
The data from the study will fill in gaps on indigenous knowledge regarding RVF occurrence, predictions and control measures as well as provide the community and scientific evaluation of
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formal control measures carried out during or before outbreaks. This will assist the government in designing effective control strategies for RVF.

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