… without scaring the wrong people too much?
That’s a question that hovers over the discussions in our avian flu project, both in Ghana and in Ethiopia (and, if I listen to my colleagues’ experience, as well in Indonesia and Nigeria). When mapping out value networks, risk communication and response, we hear the concrete examples: In Ghana, there have been outbreaks that were rather localized and quickly stamped out by concerted government action. In Ethiopia one suspected case turned out to be a different disease, after all the “avian flu action” had been taken.
But when we ask about the economic damage done by avian flu, our partners from government, big and small poultry farms and different trading associations don’t talk about the 5 000, 10 000 or 100 000 birds that were culled on specific farms to prevent a spreading of the disease.
All they talk about is
Even though in Ethiopia it comes close to a religious duty to eat chicken on certain holidays, and the Ethiopians seem to be the most religious people I have ever met, in the middle of the avian flu scare, no one wanted to eat their Easter chicken. Farmers who couldn’t sell their fowls, just left them at the market, some farmers even killed and burned all their chicken as a preventive measure, wifes sent their husbands away who had brought Easter chicken from the village, the whole market collapsed. One lady, who owns a medium scale commercial farm (1000+ chicken for egg production) told us: “You would watch TV and get confused: First they showed us all this about always wearing plastic gloves when preparing chicken and reporting any suspicious death etc. and just afterwards they tried to tell us not to panic and to please eat more chicken.”