Australia Awards Africa Fellowship graduate Dr Teresa Gichane is contributing to far-reaching structural reforms across a number of animal health-related sectors in Kenya. These advances have led to better animal production in the country since her return home in 2011.
A trained Veterinary Clinician with over 10 years’ experience in animal health services and various other senior level positions in the veterinary sector, Teresa applied for an Africa Fellowship to upgrade her skills and knowledge in Food Security Through Increased Production and Trade Facilitation in the African Region.
Among a number of nation-wide innovations Teresa has implemented since her Fellowship in 2011 are sound mechanisms for controlling livestock movement and inspection at ports of entries. As a result, the Veterinary Department introduced a quarantine declaration form in Kenya, which is completed at the port of entry and requires incoming travellers to declare any agricultural products in their possession.
This new system lessens the free flow of livestock, livestock products, and by-products into Kenya thus contributing to a reduction in animal diseases and spoiling of animal hides and skins (through tick infestation etc.). These positive changes are of particular significance as animals are an important source of livelihood in Northern Kenya, where communities in the region are pastoralists. Teresa credits her exposure to the Australian Quarantine Inspection Services (AQIS) procedures for the successful replication in Kenya.
Teresa’s approach to animal disease prevention and control in Kenya is underpinned by the structured training and inspection initiatives she gained on her Africa Fellowship. These initiatives include training and inspection of staff in the handling and dispensing of drugs in order to minimise errors and misuse.
Further, Teresa enforced the inspection and prosecution of persons found inappropriately handling veterinary drugs or involved in selling of unregistered or expired drugs. As a result, she has been able to strengthen processes for national veterinary drug management.
At the regional level, Teresa instigated a more effective method of livestock control by sensitising farmers on effective livestock movement and animal welfare. The Veterinary Inspectorate Unit, which Teresa previously headed, was responsible for training an average of one thousand farmers/traders annually in various regions around the country on animal feeds management. The training has helped to prevent diseases while improving farmers’ productivity.
Teresa attributes her impressive record of tangible contributions towards Kenya’s veterinary sector partially to her Australia Awards Africa Fellowship, which she undertook in 2011 at both Murdoch University, Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia (DAFWA).
In addition, thanks to her Australian-acquired skills, Teresa was well positioned to take on the high profile role of County Transition Coordinator for the Kenyan Transition Authority, a post she has held since February 2013. In this key role, she is responsible for facilitation and coordination of transition to the devolved system of government – a form of decentralisation to bring service delivery closer to citizens. Teresa’s role also entails providing government officials with strategic advice on various issues, including veterinary sector programming in Murang’a County to which she is currently assigned.
“Though the training was only one month, it was so intense that what I learnt in the Australia Awards Africa Fellowship has been very helpful in my work,” states Teresa.