Pastoralists from northern Tanzania can lose up to a third of their herd each year due to inability to find adequate pasture and the threat of predators and disease.
Sapunyu Laizer herding home his flock of Shoats (Goat and sheep) around sunset (© AfriScout)
Earlier 2020, Sapunyu Laizer, a pastoralist from Maganga township in northern Tanzania, was first introduced to a new precision grazing technology called AfriScout. AfriScout provides remote pastoralists with satellite imagery on vegetation and water resources, along with crowd-sourced alerts on conflict, disease, predators and other information relevant to good herd and pasture management. Armed with this information, pastoralists can improve grazing management practices, which reduces land degradation while protecting herds and strengthening this vital livelihood. After a 3-month trial period, pastoralists are offered the option to purchase an annual subscription for about 21 euro, or approximately the price of a goat.
How a smart phone application is protecting herds while preserving a traditional way of life
Sapunyu decided to download and try AfriScout for the free trial period. By trialing use of the app, Sapunyu gained a deep appreciation for what AfriScout could do and decided to subscribe even before his trial period ended. When asked why he subscribed, he shared,
“AfriScout is an application which shows the vegetation of important grazing areas. It shows the actual pasture condition and surface water availability. This is very helpful. Additionally, using this app, you can post alerts on dangers prevailing in the grazing area and see alerts on diseases, predators, lack of water, and conflicts posted by others. With this information you can move your herd without risk. That is why, after seeing that my free-trial period was almost over, I decided to subscribe!”
Sapunyu Laizer displying Longido district grazing area map in Afriscout app (© AfriScout)
For pastoralists like Sapunyu, AfriScout is a critical information tool for making timely and optimal migration decisions while minimizing potential risks. Prior to AfriScout this kind of information, if available at all, was limited in scope, often dated, imprecise and even incorrect. Because the high-resolution satellite maps are updated every 10 days, and alert posts can be shared in real-time, AfriScout is proving to be an invaluable tool for supporting healthy herds and healthy grasslands.
“In my opinion, the alert function is one of the most important features. For example, during heavy rains in March and April this year (2020), herds succumbed to many diseases. On AfriScout, I saw alerts on Chronic Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (CBPP) in the neighboring village of Oerendeke and several alerts on deadly Ormilo¹ (the crazy shoat disease), posted in many parts of Longido district. I informed my family and our boma (household cluster) members of the endemic Ormilo and CBPP outbreaks in the neighbouring villages. We therefore decided to vaccinate out cattle and de-worm our shoats² against Ormilo. While our neighbours’ herds were highly affected with many of their animals dying, our herd was safe. None of our animal died” he described.
While AfriScout is a high-tech tool, it is being employed to preserve a traditional livelihood that has been negatively affected by climate change, poor land management policies, and decades of marginalization. AfriScout is helping pastoralists overcome these barriers by giving them one of the most powerful and transformative resources available today – open and actionable information.
“AfriScout has helped me navigate the plains, see the actual vegetation conditions, surface water availability and prevailing dangers, which I can report to the elders and household members. In this way, AfriScout has helped me fulfill my traditional Maasai Morani (warrior) role,” Sapunyu explains.
Sapunyu Laizer assessing one of the health of goat kid. The kids have been dewormed against “Ormil” (© AfriScout)
Sapunyu is now dedicated AfriScout Ambassador, advocating its use across the district and working with AfriScout’s Field Agent to register new AfriScout users. The Mobile Money operator provides an ideal platform to share AfriScout to any pastoralist who seeks him out for mobile money services. With his support, the more and more pastoralists are learning about AfriScout and what it can do. The AfriScout Tanzania team is now advocating for other Field Agents to identify and engage mobile money agents to be AfriScout Ambassador to expand access to AfriScout app.
¹ Ormilo is a Maasai word for Coenurosis or Taeniasis - the disease caused by the larval stage of the tapeworm Taenia multiceps which affect the brain of sheep or goat leading to the neurological signs: circling and pressing head against obstacles etc.
² De worming (getting rid of intestinal parasites) is drenching of Shoats (Sheep and Goats) with recommended quantity of antihelminths – anti-worms medicine in a dip tank. For the case or Ormilo (Coenurosis or Taeniasis) Albandazole is used.