Program Dharma brings experts, local leaders and community members together to keep pets healthy and improve community well-being.
Rabies first arrived in Bali, Indonesia in 2008, threatening both animals and humans. Although there was a successful vaccination campaign in 2010-2011, inconsistent follow through led to a resurgence in cases of this deadly disease. Aside from loss of life for people and animals, rabies can lead to intolerance of dogs and disinterest in their welfare, as well as short term and inhumane reactions such as mass culling. This is an issue among many banjars—or neighborhoods—within villages in Bali.
A community-based program provided by BAWA, Udayuna University Public Health Faculty, and IFAW, empowers banjars to take the lead in ensuring dogs in their community are vaccinated against rabies and well cared for. Through Program Dharma, they organize dog population mapping, peer outreach, animal health days and vaccination events.
In Program Dharma banjars, dogs are healthier and people are safer as rabies is all but non-existent. People now reject cruel and ineffective culling previously accepted as the norm and spread the message that healthy dogs mean healthy communities. One village we partnered with even passed Indonesia’s first law explicitly banning dog meat and other cruel acts—just one of the many positive, indirect effects of our work on the ground.
After years of collaboaration and capacity building, village leaders now take primary responsibility for maintaining Program Dharma in their own communities while BAWA and Udayana University work to bring this successful program to other banjars across the island. IFAW and BAWA’s partnership continues to save even more lives as we develop a new village-led approach to protecting people and animals from another urgent deadly threat they face: natural disasters.
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