Findings from this study have revealed that the majority of farmers think livestock keeping give more income than cropping. Farmers in the study area depend on livestock as the main source of income. However, diseases and drought pose serious threats to livestock keepers. Losses are attributable to morbidity, mortality and costs of disease treatment and control measures to meet national and international requirements. Epidemic diseases such as RVF, with few natural factors to limit their spread and experience in managing them bring great threat to livestock keepers. Tanzania has an estimated livestock population of 17 million cattle, 11 million goats, and 3.6 million sheep (Mohamed et al. 2010) most of which are located in the north and central regions of the country. These regions were severely affected by the 2006–07 RVF outbreak leading to disrupted socio-economic setting of all Tanzanians and more so livestock keepers who are completely dependent on livestock and their products.
The 2006–07 RVF outbreak in Tanzania started in the northern part with abnormal abortions and deaths in domestic animals in late December 2006 and confirmed in January 2007. In early February 2007, the Government of Tanzania held an emergency inter-ministerial meeting in Arusha after which the District Commissioners were given tasks to prepare strategies to control the disease in their districts. One of the strategies was to provide education to the community on clinical appearance of the disease, spread of disease (transmission) and the effect of disease to human and their animals. Also education was given in slaughter premises to all people who were involved in handling and slaughtering animals. Livestock keepers were emphasized to make sure they did not move animals from one village to another and that they were to participate fully in vaccination campaigns.
During this time the government was ordering Smithburn vaccines abroad and organizing funds and human resources. The first vaccine doses were received by the government in the end of February 2007, 116 600 were distributed to districts with reported cases namely Monduli, Ngorongoro, Simanjiro, Longido, Hai, Babati, Mkinga and Kilosa. Also equipments and funds to run vaccination campaigns were provided by the Government. Additional, 370 400 vaccine doses were distributed to all districts as well as in other two districts namely Iringa rural and Mvomero in which RVF cases were reported. Vaccination campaigns to animals started early on March 2007 to all ages of cattle, sheep and goats except those under six months and pregnant animals were vaccinated. Emphasis was put on sheep and goats when the amount of vaccine was not enough. Vaccinations started on the high risk areas for RVF and ended on the low risk areas based on the known history of RVF outbreaks.
This study has revealed that, during the outbreak minimal education was given to the community in the study area and more so to the pastoralists who live nomadic life. Pastoralists depended much on radios to get information about RVF as they can carry with them even to the remote grazing areas. The government used community meetings, posters, newspapers and seminars to educate communities. Since during this study, most of community members were found with low knowledge about RVF may imply that, the education provided was not effective. It has been reported by other researchers in Tanzania and elsewhere (Cripps 2000; Fyumagwa et al. 2011; Swai et al. 2010) that, it is not only livestock keepers, but also veterinary field staff and staff in health facilities, have a low awareness and poor knowledge of zoonoses. In livestock keeping community, the majority of them had not gone to school and therefore posters were not suitable for them. In this regard, providing education via their local leaders and radios could be the best option for livestock keeping community to get education easily during RVF outbreak. Vernacular languages should be used when providing education and information to the pastoralist as it has been seen that there was good proportion of people who could not understand and speak the national language (Kiswahili). This observation was also noted in Kenya (Munyua et al. 2010) as among obstacles for efficient dissemination of information and extension of knowledge to livestock keepers. With advancement of communication technology, the use of automated messages via mobile phones that would provide information on outbreak of diseases may be useful. Majority of the livestock keepers nowadays in Tanzania own and use mobile phones for their family matters and seeking market information. The application of mobile technologies by the livestock keepers and veterinary professionals to exchange information on livestock diseases will enhance disease surveillance (Karimuribo et al. 2011a).
During the 2006–07 RVF outbreaks, some farmers went on eating meat without inspection and proper cooking that led to more human cases especially in some parts of Dodoma. This was due to their socio-cultural behaviour of eating meat not inspected or from dead animals. This calls further educational intervention at community levels. The limited knowledge of pastoral communities on risk practices including eating raw meat, raw milk, touching and herding aborted animals and consuming products from animals predisposes them to zoonotic diseases (Anyangu et al. 2010). On the other hand in some communities it was observed that human and animals shared the same housing that also predisposed them to zoonotic diseases. This has also been observed and associated as one of the risk factor for transmitting zoonotic diseases (including RVF) to human (Jost et al. 2010; Swai et al. 2010). Hence more education is needed and interventions that will enable the community live in separate houses from animals.
In pastoral communities, animals that get sick are often treated by themselves due to unavailability of livestock disease professional and para-professionals that can take charge in disease diagnosis, treatment and other disease management. Other factors include high treatment cost linked to calls of veterinary doctors and buying of drugs, keeping large number of animals just for prestige, nomadic lifestyle and insufficient knowledge on best ways to control diseases. Apart from livestock experts being few, nomadic lifestyle contributes by far for the limited access to veterinary services that would provide service on time. Pastoralists have limited knowledge about dosage and routes for drug administration. Free market economy for veterinary pharmaceutical in Tanzania contributes greatly to self-treatment of animals by and mishandling of drugs. Easy access to drugs and self-treatment procedures have great impact on control of livestock diseases especially during outbreaks as pastoralists will report after so many trials, while the disease is progressing to spread. The use of trained Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) as an important alternative animal to animal health delivery channel in the country’s marginal areas where there are few professional veterinary practitioners will help to reduce the problems (Allport et al. 2005; Swai and Masaaza 2012). In the rural settings health delivery systems are hampered by many factors including remoteness, poor infrastructure, inadequate transport, lack of qualified veterinary staffs and insufficient funds to support surveillance operations and buy reagents and drugs (Swai and Schoonman 2012). Therefore, the use of CAHWs could be a good link to the veterinary professionals and the livestock disease control units for providing information to the livestock keepers and to the veterinary experts.
During the outbreak, the quarantine was not executed properly as pastoralists could still move their animals from one village to another to search for pastures. Also farmers were still selling animals to nearby country (Kenya) via unauthorized routes. The movement of animals from Tanzania to Kenya either for search of good pasture or for sale has been reported (Diallo et al. 2000) to facilitate further spread of the disease to unaffected areas during the 2006–07 RVF outbreak. It was observed that good pastures were found in the low land areas where mosquitoes were also found in large numbers and facilitated the disease transmission. However, the short difference in time of occurrence of disease in different regions of Tanzania is an indication that, those foci of outbreaks were caused by other factors other than animal movement as it was also highlighted by (FAO 2000). The results also indicated that few farmers used dipping tanks and the majority used spray pumps to control vector borne diseases. Since some of the farmers owned large number of animals, it was not possible to effectively spray all of them. According to (Peter et al. 2005) and (Davies and Martin 2006) effective use of dipping tanks also reduces the magnitude of mosquito borne diseases like RFV.
Rift Valley fever led to disruption of whole market chains system in the country similar to what it was reported in other countries that experienced the disease (Holleman 2002). The study has indicated that sheep were highly affected followed by goats then cattle as it was observed in Kenya (Jost et al. 2010) following similar outbreaks. This was contributed by lack of emergency plans that led to delayed control of RVF in the country. This was a similar observation in Kenya (FAO EMPRES WATCH 2006; Martin et al. 2007). Thus, there is a need of having organizational rearrangement so that an emergency unit is put in place that will deal with emergency diseases especially outbreaks or unknown cases that require fast action to prevent massive socio-economic loses. The normal administrative structures of national veterinary services that deals with routines animal health programmes have been reported (FAO 2000) to be ineffective for emergency cases. During the 2006–07 RVF outbreak in Tanzania, the coordination for controlling the disease was under the umbrella of the National Disaster Preparedness and Response unit within the Prime Minister’s Office (Karimuribo et al. 2011b). Establishment of the unit will ensure active surveillance and monitoring is carried out routinely in the field to create baseline information on inter-epidemic virus transmission patterns, areas at risk and early warning of RVFV activity or increased mosquito populations. Also annual vaccinations in highly susceptible areas identified by experienced livestock stakeholders are done together with early distribution of enough vaccine doses, equipments and funds during outbreaks.
Control measures that were put in place by the government could not be implemented properly because time frame for the disease to spread in a wider area was very short to enable the government to provide education as fast as possible. Inadequate numbers of livestock disease experts in the livestock keeping community led to livestock keepers treat their animals. This led to delayed reporting of the disease outbreaks. Also lack of collaboration between and within the livestock sectors led to difficulties in effective implementing control measures during the outbreak. Thus, there is high chance that the disease disappeared naturally. Since RVF affects human, domestic and wild animals and transmitted by arthropods, the approach towards its control should involve a number of government Ministries. In Tanzania the Ministries includes, the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. During the 2006/07 RVF outbreak, the Ministries responsible for Livestock Development and worked in isolation and in ad hoc manner using Ministerial contingency plans which also have no common point of intersection (Fyumagwa et al. 2011; Mbugi et al. 2012). There is a need of creating a point of intersection in order to be able to fit in the concept of 'One Health Approach’ which is thought to be a better way of combating infectious diseases. The initiatives towards the One Health infectious diseases surveillance in Tanzania has been started by introducing Masters in One Health Molecular Biology at Sokoine University of Agriculture under the Southern African Centre for Infectious Diseases Surveillance (SACIDS). The Government of Tanzania launched officially the One Health Approach in Arusha on April 16, 2013 by the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania.