June 12, 2020


 As part of AVSI’s series, “Behind the Mask”, meet a veterinarian who is making sure animals like sheep, calves and chicken don’t die during the lockdown

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, amid many doubts and questions, Jolar Jarjess was certain that being close to people affected by crises is a fundamental principle for effective humanitarian action.

"Our role during a crisis like COVID-19 is not to avoid danger, but to manage it in a way that allows us to assist the affected communities."

Born in Baghdad, but living in Qaraqosh since he was four years old, Jolar Jarjess has a fundamental role in AVSI’s project “A virtuous production cycle to relaunch a city and its economic fabric for IDPs and returnees to the Ninevah Plains,” funded by U.S State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). Jolar has been the primary veterinarian since the beginning of the project, helping local farmers breed calves, sheep, and poultry sustainably.

As part of his job, Jolar identifies farms that may be eligible to join the program. If approved, farms will be refurbished and prepared with the technical specifications needed for the purchase of livestock and fodder. Jolar also coordinates the recruitment of qualified veterinarians to follow-up the production cycles and carry out professional examination before the purchase of animals and food. He is in charge of the treatment programs to be followed by the veterinarians and breeders and accompanies breeders to ensure a successful production cycle.

"It is important that I keep working because calves, sheep, and poultry are exposed to risks of disease and epidemics, which may lead to animal deaths, and expose breeders to a large loss that may damage their businesses," explains Jolar. "As a veterinarian, I develop prevention and treatment plans to control these diseases and train breeders on how to raise animals to achieve the best productivity. Our work is essential for their socio-economic recovery after the huge losses faced due to the invasion of ISIS."

Although it hasn’t stopped, Jolar’s work has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of curfews. To avoid the spread, AVSI Iraq put in place new strategies to follow up with beneficiaries and assure the continuity of activities and secure profitable production cycles essential to the sustainability of the support. Most follow-ups with beneficiaries are done by phone or video call, but Jolar still needs to visit farmers in urgent situations when animals are at risk of dying.

"I certainly hope and aspire to do more so that we can reach all the people who need help,” says Jolar. "I feel delighted when I can help people affected by crises."