For poultry farmers in Bangladesh, avian influenza can be a devastating problem. The avian influenza, called H5N1 HPAI, is highly pathogenic and spreads very fast. Once the flu is spread out, birds can die in 5 to 10 minutes from it and the farmer sees its poultry farm devastated.
This information fact sheet sets out to show how an SMS Gateway system developed by FAO has been used to improve rural communication, support animal disease crisis management and contribute to livelihood resilience for small-scale farmers in Bangladesh. Focusing on the case study of avian influenza in Bangladesh, the information factsheet explores how the SMS alert system has bolstered disease prevention, surveillance and reporting among poultry farmers.
By dialling a four-digit number that has been set aside by prior agreement between all cellphone service providers, a coded message from the field is relayed directly to a server at FAO. If the message indicates the suspicion of an outbreak, an automatic SMS from the server instantly alerts the Upazila Livestock Officer and the Additional Veterinary Surgeon, who will arrange an immediate investigation. If the threat is assessed as serious, a sample carcass is collected and couriered to one of seven Field Disease Investigation Laboratories or the Central Disease Investigation Laboratory in Dhaka. If H5N1 HPAI is confirmed, then the flock is culled within hours.
The SMS Gateway system has contributed to dramatically decrease the spread of H5N1 HPAI avian influenza through poultry farms in Bangladesh, supporting smallholders farmers' resilience. This resilience information factsheet is designed for practitioners who are interested in using an SMS Gateway system, or other cellular or web-based technologies, to improve reporting of animal disease outbreaks and exchange other types of information.
Watch the video presenting the situation from the farmer's point of view and how the SMS Gateway helped them: