Strong female participation in Mbuji Mayi vaccination campaigns

Kyeema partnered with the AusCongo Network (ACN) in August 2018 to launch a Newcastle disease vaccination program in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital city of Kasai-Oriental Province in south-central DRC. Since then, a total of nine vaccinators (four female) have regularly vaccinated household chickens across 16 villages. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccinators went ahead with two campaigns this year, incorporated safeguarding measures including social distancing and hygienic practices while vaccinating chickens at households. In the latest campaign in September 2020, a total of 8,443 chickens across 335 households were vaccinated. 56% of the households covered were female headed, up from 53% in the first campaign in 2018.

The entirely volunteer team at ACN in Brisbane continue to raise funds for the work of the people on the ground in Mbuji Mayi, to make improved village poultry production a reality.

Left: A vaccinator vaccinating a chicken during the fifth vaccination campaign since the project started in August 2018.

The main challenge for this project has been sourcing reliable and affordable transport and storage options for the vaccine, which is produced at the National Veterinary Laboratory in Kinshasa, some 1,350 km away. Thanks to the tireless support of the original project volunteer trainer and facilitator, Dr Theodore Mwabi, and with funding support from Partners in International Collaborative Community Aid Ltd (PiCCA), we were able to purchase and transport a solar fridge from South Africa for the long-term storage of bulk vaccine from Kinshasa at the ACN community and business centre. Though it was a long and complex process, we are pleased to report the centre now has a functioning solar fridge for storage of the I-2 Newcastle disease vaccine that can be flown in from the capital as needed through pre-order of vaccine from the growing number of households they are now servicing.

Below: Installation of the solar panel and solar-powered fridge for storage of the Newcastle disease vaccine at the ACN community centre in Mbuji Mayi. Photo credit: Jean Calvin Tshibuabua