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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Co-created community contracts support biosecurity changes in a region where African swine fever is endemic – Part I: The methodology

Chenais, Erika; Sternberg-Lewerin, Susanna; Aliro, Tonny; Stahl, Karl; Fischer, Klara

Abstract

In Northern Uganda more people live in poverty than elsewhere in the country. Small-scale pig-keeping is common and African swine fever (ASF) is endemic, spreading along the smallholder value chain. Biosecurity measures remain the only way to prevent and control the spread of ASF in this context. Previous research in the study area has shown that many stakeholders are aware of ASF, how it is spread and methods for prevention and control, but biosecurity implementation remains limited. Participatory approaches have been suggested in order to increase community engagement in relation to animal disease control, ensuring that disease prevention or control actions are guided by local people’s priorities and the promotion of local ownership of disease control. The objective of this study was to investigate the capacity of participatory action at community level with a broad inclusion of stakeholders to initiate change and greater stakeholder ownership to improve biosecurity in the smallholder pig value chain. Specific attention was paid to the feasibility of co-created community contracts for this purpose. The study was carried out in Northern Uganda in six purposively selected villages and included both farmers and traders. Centred on co-created community contracts on biosecurity, the study comprised repeated group discussions, semi-structured and structured group and individual interviews, as well as field observations. At the first meeting, participants were presented with suggested biosecurity measures adapted for farmers and traders respectively. Participants discussed each measure, agreed which ones to implement for one year, and co-created a community contract to this effect. During the study period, repeated interviews were undertaken and implementation support was provided. Interview data was coded and thematically analysed. Great diversity was observed between communities with regard to which and how many measures were selected, illustrating heterogeneity in the possibilities of biosecurity implementation and the complexity of livelihood challenges. The methodology appeared to be effective at instigating change, with all the communities changing some of their biosecurity behaviour during the study period. The intensified communication and cooperation around pigs in the communities reinforced the sense of group identity and the capacity-building offered at the first meeting supported implementation and appeared to be more important than the physical contract. Participants reported feeling empowered and described how they shared their knowledge, educated their peers and acted as catalysts for wider biosecurity change in their communities. These are promising results and indicate a positive attitude to both the agreed measures and the methodology.

Keywords

Participatory epidemiology; Smallholders; Domestic pigs; Disease control; Community engagement; Co -creation

Published in

Preventive Veterinary Medicine
2023, Volume: 212, article number: 105840