This article, as part of the special 50th edition of PLA Notes, looks at the history of the use of participatory approaches and methods in animal health care, including community-based animal health workers (CAHWs). Early development focused mainly on tools and methods, that have gradually been grouped together under the term participatory epidemiology. It describes how negative attitudes among professionals and academics have changed during the process of policy reform, and explains how participatory impact assessment and other methods have contributed to the policy process. The article focuses on experiences in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, while also describing how events in these regions have influenced change in international bodies. The article concludes by looking at future challenges, arguing that the reorganisation of government veterinary services and regulatory bodies is still a major challenge in many countries, where governments still directly control services that can be handled by others. The author recommends supporting CAHWs and private practitioners, as well as the development of enabling policies and ongoing learning methodologies to monitor and evaluate policy change.
International Institute for Environment and Development