Cattle Farming

Overview of Participatory Epidemiological tools


The Transboundry animal’s diseases are great threat for the lives of animals/ livestock in the global village (WORLD). In those part of the world where TAD (Transboundry Animals Disease) Especially Rinderpest still exists, eradication will be achieved by a process of Participatory Disease Surveillance and intensive vaccination of infected population if found. The eradication program is in progress in Pakistan with the coordination of Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nation and European Union (EU).

The ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) and provincial Livestock departments are in action and Participatory Disease Surveillance Teams are carrying out PDS activities in the Targeted villages of their allocated Districts. From the month of May, 2003 the PDS team (B) started its activities and visited the targeted villages (randomly selected by the Data Analyst) of District Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Toba Tek Singh and Okara till December, 2003. By applying the different tools of Participatory Epidemiology, the onset of different Livestock diseases was observed which are shown at next page. The exercise of Proportional pilling with the local farmers was the actual key to determine the Livestock diseases prevalence and importance wise. The PDS Team (B) visited 263 villages of 04 Districts and contacted 4816 Farmers of area while conducting the 266 farmers meetings in the targeted villages. During this survey 152 Key Informants were interviewed for the prevalence of any contagious livestock diseases in the area/ village. The PDS team (B) visited 02 cattle markets for the observation of livestock movement within Districts and Within Provinces. The PDS team (B) also visited 14 specific area/village on the direction/report of TADCO or District Livestock Officer concerned to observe the Disease Incidence and collected 13 laboratory samples. The PDS Team (B) also visited 54 field veterinary institutions and contacted 176 veterinary staff personals while conducting awareness meetings. According to the contacted farmers and Key Informants interviewed, the Transboundry Animal Diseases are not present in the Districts covered except Foot and Mouth Disease Which was observed during the PDS activities by the PDS team (B).
The Rinderpest Disease is not present in the area/targeted villages of these Districts of Punjab (Pakistan)


Simply stated, Participatory Epidemiology is the application of Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques to the collection of epidemiologic information (Jeff Mariner, Andy Catley, ). In the activity of Participatory Disease Surveillance the participation by the community or target group is the main aspect. Participation can be defined as a voluntary process by which people influence or control the decisions that affect them selves’ by contributing their knowledge, resources and skills. Participatory approach leads the way we interact with the peoples and this approach of interaction begin and create / establish a relation ship / trust between the worker and the target group of people. While working with Participatory approach, the actual issues / data or information’s could be derived from the people/target group. Participatory Epidemiology is also a wing of Participatory approach to locate, control and eradicates any disease from the particular area. In the Participatory approach the worker/researcher should be aware of attitude / behavior of the target group. The attitude / behavior of the target group or community make the research/surveillance more useful and valuable, so the active community participation is the main key for success full Participatory Epidemiology or Disease Surveillance. PDS is a rural community based program, so the PRA techniques were applied according to the needs of the farmers for their livestock health problems such as housing, feeding, vaccination and provision of veterinary aids etc.

Brief of the Districts:
The Districts under study are thickly livestock populated area of Punjab (Pakistan) and famous for the world known SAHIWAL cow and NILI RAVI buffalo breeds. The basic data of the districts is shown in the table.

Districts Animal Population UC Villages VH VD VC VO VA
Pakpattan 912673 63 765 3 13 27 9 34
Sahiwal 1900488 89 529 5 25 59 23 47
Okara 1557728 114 912 18 17 54 21 67
Toba Tek Singh 1147881 66 531 20 17 67 37 107
Total 5518770 332 2737 46 72 207 90 255

Livestock Services status of the Districts

The livestock services are mostly provided to the farmers by the Livestock and Dairy Development Department through its field staff posted at Veterinary Hospital, veterinary Dispensary or Veterinary Centers. The average animal strength for a veterinary institution or veterinary worker is shown in the following table.

Districts Per UC Per Village Per VH Per VD Per VC Per VO* Per VA
Pakpattan 14500 1200 304200 70200 33800 101400 29500
Sahiwal 21350 3600 380100 76000 32200 82600 40500
Okara 13700 1700 86500 92000 28900 74200 23200
Toba Tek singh 17400 2200 57400 67500 17150 31000 10700

UC (Union Council) VH (Veterinary Hospital) VD(Veterinary Dispensary)
VC (Veterinary Center) VO (Veterinary Officer) VA (Veterinary Assistant)
• One veterinary officer can provide efficient livestock services to 25000 heads of animals under ideal condition.

Methods and Methodology Used
The Participatory Epidemiology is a main tool to observe the disease incidence in a particular area as the Livestock keeper always try to get his sick animal recovered with his own or traditional methods of treatment and the mutual consultation of farmers leads to the symptoms of those diseases which were prevailing in that particular area some time.

Selection of Area/villages
The villages were selected randomly by the Data Analyst of Livestock and Dairy Development Department Punjab, but while working in the Districts/area some others villages were also selected for Participatory Disease Search activities to get the actual data/information of Transboundry Animal Diseases.

Criteria for the selection of villages

• High risk areas
1. The villages in which the livestock Traders are engaged with Karachi and Peshawar Livestock markets and they are keeping the livestock in the village /area.
2. The village where the livestock are mainly fed on common grazing area.
3. The villages near the boundary of high risk area/village.

• Other area
1. The village /area far flung from the metal road and veterinary hospitals.
2. The village/area near or in the river belt.
3. The village /area near the livestock markets.

The PDS Teams trained in Participatory Disease Surveillance technique applied the tools of Participatory Disease Surveillance to get a valuable Participatory appraisal. The active participation of local farmers/ livestock owners made the activity more effective and authenticated. To get more and active participation the meeting time and place was the main consideration of the PDS Team. In every village / area the Participatory Epidemiology tools were applied with flexible manner according to the local situation so that the correct information/ data can be collected / complied. Following main activities were performed in the targeted villages / area as methodology for Participatory Disease Surveillance.

Conduction of farmers meetings: 
Participatory Disease Search is based on the views and thinking of livestock keeper. The traditional veterinary knowledge with personal experiences could be elaborated freely in the informal gathering of farmers. The traditional names and variety of traditional prescriptions for different livestock diseases were intelligently described by the farmers of the area. The symptoms of Transboundry Animal Disease were also elaborated by the PDS Team while discussing on particular disease. The farmers gathering depend upon the time, place, local politics, conflicts and weather. The primary introduction of PDS Team builds a structure of confidence which leads to a valuable discussion of Livestock Diseases prevailing in the area.

Following table is showing the farmers meeting detail district wise.

S/No District Villages Visited No of Farmers Meetings No of Farmers Participated Average Participation
1. Pakpattan 78 78 1481 19
2. Sahiwal 57 57 1102 19
3. Okara 90 93 1657 18
4. Toba Tek Singh 60 60 1090 18
5. Total 285 288 5330 18

Proportional Pilling 
The use of pictures, charts and banners for the identification of different diseases makes the things easier for the farmers to participate in the proportional pilling /scoring of Livestock Diseases prevalence and importance wise.

The use of different types of things such as small stones, tablets, seeds, and beans etc for pilling creates the interest in the exercise. Generally the farmer/livestock holder enjoys the talk/discussion for his livestock health and production, and it’s the secret of a successful Disease Surveillance.

Use of pictures 
Showing the symptoms of disease on picture, cartoons, and outlines confirms the faded outline of the disease present in the farmers /Key Informant mind. The typical signs of HS, Red Water, Mastitis, Foot and Mouth disease and diarrhea made the easier for the PDS team to understand the disease situation of area. In this regards the local names of different disease were also recorded for proper pronunciation. The PDS team was very careful while asking questions during farmers meeting or interviews not to raise farmer’s expectations concerning future services of the department. Open ended questions were asked making the farmers to think for answer. These questions were not preplanned and were according to the situation of the area, hence resulting the valuable data/ information’s. The PDS team also probed the situation on the symptoms of Transboundry Animal Diseases while listening carefully to the farmers and gave respect to every individual opinion and observations with open minded. The data thus derived from the minds of intelligent farmers are shown in the following table for livestock diseases in targeted villages of districts under study.

Prevalence                              Importance   

District I II III I II III
Okara FMD HS PPHU HS PPHU Mastitis

Mapping is also a very useful method to get the actual information from the farmers regarding their livestock movement and grazing area. This activity involves the farmers physically to create a map showing natural resources, such as canal, river, forest, grazing area, ponds and cattle trespass.

In this activity both literate and non-literate people can contribute to draw a map on the ground with an ordinary stick. The mapping exercise and the map made by the farmers can be used for the discussion as well as for participatory analysis. The mapping method is also useful for follow up questioning and visiting the risk area. Following graph is showing the mapping of under study districts.

Seasonal Calendar
The onset of different livestock diseases in the particular area can be searched out through open ended questions to the farmers or Key informants during meeting /interviews. Seasonal variations and its perceptions of occurrence could be defined by the farmers by making seasonal calendar. The farmer has indigenous knowledge regarding the prevalence of disease in that area and by making the seasonal calendar on the ground the worker/researcher can identify the actual onset of diseases.

To get the actual situation of disease, the worker/researcher should know or understand the traditional/local names of season and diseases. While interviewing or meeting with the farmer, the information regarding the local names can be got for reference. The use of pictures for seasons and diseases are necessary, so that the farmers can understand the disease while drawing seasonal calendar on the ground. By applying /constructing a one year time line on the ground and placing the picture of disease one by one, the onset of disease can be scored with small stones under each season. In this way the seasonal calendar grow slowly showing all information of diseases prevalence in particular area. The farmer can explain the interesting aspects of diagram / seasonal calendar on the questions of worker/researcher and by using the probing questions the actual situation/data could be derived from the diagram made by the farmers. The disease pattern got from the seasonal calendar made by the farmers during the PE is shown as under.








1. ???


HS, FMD, PPHU, Mastitis,

Enterotoxaemia, Pleuropnemonia,

Diarrhea and PPR

2. ????


FMD, Rheumatism,

Tympny, Ticks,

I/Worms and PPR

3. ???


Rheumatism, Prolapsed  Uterus and


4. Rainy season HS, Mastitis,

Prolapsed Uterus and

Milk fever

5. ???


I/Worms, Tympny and


Key Informants Interviewed
In the Farmer community certain local people are known as possessing the indigenous veterinary knowledge. Such farmers (Key Informants) were identified during the farmers meeting or visiting the area. The PDS team interviewed the key Informants and got valuable information regarding the Transboundry Animal Disease in the area under study. These Key Informants were categorized like, Elder of the village, livestock Keeper, Siaana of village treating the animals with traditional prescriptions, Livestock Trader, Butcher, milk man or veterinary practitioners.

Participatory Epidemiology could only be beneficial if the data/information collected by applying different tools are considered to make a decision or diagnosis. Triangulation is very much useful for the making of diagnosis in veterinary medicine. The data/information got from different sources, case history of animal, owner interview, direct observation or clinical examination of effected animals is mentally combined to provide a provisional or final diagnosis.

PDS Impact on the farmer
The PDS Team during its activities interacts with the field veterinary staff and livestock owners/farmers. Being the owners of animals, the farmers are the main source of Information regarding livestock diseases as its prevalence and importance in their area. The working field veterinary staff is also a good source of disease reporting. During this study/surveillance following points regarding social behavior were observed.


• Tools of Participatory Epidemiology are quite helpful to evaluate the disease situation in the village/area. The interest of the farmers/participants was very much appreciable while applying the exercise of mapping, seasonal calendar and proportional pilling.

• Working with the beans/seeds for the exercise of proportional pilling is very much effective when all the representatives of all groups living in the village are present and participating in the exercise.

• A reasonable farmers gathering (15-20) in one meeting is more effective having discussion on every aspects.

• The management and feeding aspects are being ignored by the farmers causing metabolic disorders in their livestock.

• The livestock diseases such as Hemoglobin urea, Mastitis and prolapsed uterus are main concern for the farmers.

• The livestock holders of the area/village are well aware about the severity of Hemorrhagic Septicemia and they are vaccinating their animals

• The Foot and Mouth disease was prevailing in the area/villages 3 months back but the farmers have no fear about the disease as the disease is not causing mortality in the livestock.

• The name of Rinderpest Disease is new for the farmers of area/villages, but the symptoms especially Diarrhea described by the PDS Team leads to think about the PPR in sheep and Johnes disease in buffalos and cattle.

• The old men of the area/village and the farmer which are selling their animals to the traders of Karachi were some time agreed with the symptoms of RP but in Karachi 5-10 year back.

For more Detail:

Dr Muhammad Rasheed
In charge PDS Team (B)
Phone: 0441-50305