From the U.S. Air Force Web site comes a story of a veterinary civic action project to teach animal husbandry techniques to the women of Socotra, a small island in the Indian Ocean belonging to the Republic of Yemen. In Yemenese society, women are the primary caretakers of animals. The leader of the mission, veterinarian and Army captain Gwynne Kinley explains that

“By teaching the women to be self-sufficient, they can help their local and regional government with veterinary-related issues. . . . This is paramount for creating self-sufficiency in the region.”

The three-day mission comprised two days of classroom instruction and one day of hands-on demonstration. Participants were taught basic skills such as how to recognize infection, give a vaccination, and treat simple ailments.

“The women are very happy to receive this training,” said [local veterinarian] Dr. Ahmed Saeed Saif . . . . “They had no training before and didn’t know how to take care of the animals. This is a good start.”

With more than 150,000 farm animals on the island primarily used for food, Saif said the training will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of all the inhabitants.

Catmanager wonders if we are to take seriously the claim that the islanders didn’t know how to care for their 150,000 farm animals? Socotra has been inhabited since at least the fifth century BCE. Surely in all that time indigenous animal husbandry techniques were developed! I hope Dr. Saif meant that the islanders had had no formal training in modern animal husbandry. But his statement does seem suspiciously dismissive of the islanders’ indigenous knowledge, and I would like to have seen the article provide some clarification or more context for the comment.

In general, the article is a nice portrait of how military veterinarians are working to improve public health worldwide.