Ghanaian peacekeepers give hope to flood-stricken Unity cattle and people alike
UNITY – Persistent floods in southern Unity continue to have a devastating impact on not only people but also their livestock, which further exacerbates the situation of their owners. As cattle have been dying in large numbers, veterinary peacekeepers from Ghana and serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) decided to take action.
Being well aware of the immense significance of cattle in South Sudan, both as sources of livelihoods and social status, Ghanaian contingents serving in the country make sure to include veterinaries among their troops.
“We have visited a number of cattle camps in the counties of Mayendit and Leer over the past three days. So far, we have treated more than 1,700 animals, including cattle, goats and sheep, mostly for gastro enteritis, conjunctivitis, wounds, worms and ticks,” says veterinary officer and Flight Lieutenant Blaise Kunlamore.
Floods have forced beasts and humans alike to the few highland areas not under water, thus creating a hazardous, fatal and disease-inducing scramble for grazing areas.
“Ten of the 13 payams [administrative areas] of Mayendit County are under water, with everyone having to stay in the remaining three. Conditions are bad, with many animals dying,” said Stephen Kulang Chath, County Director of animal resources, fisheries, and tourism.
By now, the Ghanaian saviours of beasts are well-known and very much appreciated by farmers living in the region.
“The fact that I still have cattle alive today is frankly thanks to the treatment that was given to them last year, by the peacekeepers from Ghana,” averred Jeremiah Gatphan Diu, a cattle camp leader. “I can’t afford to stay behind when I hear that they are coming help us. In fact, I bring all my animals from far away and try to be the first person here,” he added.
Healthy livestock means better lives for their owners as well.
“The importance of what they [the visiting veterinaries] are doing cannot be overstated. By keeping the cattle alive, pastoralists can afford to feed their children and send them to school,” explained Stephen Kulang.
When they are not providing medical care for animals, the Ghanaian Blue Helmets engage in other activities, not least day and night patrols. Their robust presence helps keep host communities in southern Unity safe.
“We are here to build sustainable peace, which is necessary for the development of South Sudan to take place. Keeping people safe and well is also crucial in moving that process forward. We will keep doing our best to contribute to that,” said Lieutenant Colonel Prince Tandoh, Commander of the battalion in the area.