SMS Report system
The Two-way SMS Project aims to develop guidance on how veterinary services may use phone-based communication tools to improve reporting and reduce the impact of epidemic animal diseases.
Simple mobile phone technology can facilitate reporting and responses at household level and, by engaging livestock owners in two-way communication channels it will improve access to immediate, trustworthy and locally relevant information and advice. Through mobile phone reporting at community level, livestock owners could access the knowledge and services they need to develop epidemic resilience, and subsequently be empowered at local level to protect their livelihoods.
Understanding how to engage positively livestock attendants in behaviors that contribute to disease reporting, and the policy goals of reducing entry, disease spread and impact, should strongly inform guidance on how to turn policy into practice.
Communication and social media networks offer specific advantages in terms of rapid two-way communications, e.g. reporting and receiving advice. There is still a lot required to be learnt on how to optimize this to ensure communications are trusted, sustainable and useful for both parties, and to avoid misuse, with subsequent erosion of trust.
A key gap in progressing these aims was the need for a better understanding of livestock owner incentives for reporting livestock diseases through their mobile phones. Based on these needs, a series of workshops were organized in six areas of Uganda and Rwanda to understand farmer incentives for disease reporting and the potential role of mobile phones to enhance this.
The Two-way SMS Project has been funded thanks to the support of the Government of Ireland and is now in a pilot phase in three Districts of Uganda. If successful, the EuFMD may look for funding to roll-out on a wider scale and further implement it.