East Africa Clippings

Organizations join forces to fight African swine fever

Inspecting a pig in western Kenya

Inspecting a pig’s health in Busia, western Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith).

‘Occurrence of African swine fever (ASF) was reported in almost half of the countries that make up the African continent in 2012. This transboundary animal disease (TAD) can have a powerful negative impact on a nation’s economy and social structures. It causes major economic losses from its effects on pig production and economically hinders people who depend on pig farming and who risk, as a result of ASF, to lose their livelihoods. It also reduces poor communities’ access to high-quality and cheap animal proteins.

For these reasons, ASF is considered the most serious infectious disease in pigs in Africa.

‘In recent years, the international community, national authorities, the pig production sector and researchers are trying to solve the problem in a sustainable way in order to eliminate constraints on pig production and enhance rural development. The African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have been collaborating since March 2013 to implement a regional strategy to control ASF in infected countries and to prevent its spread to non-infected countries.

‘The strategy is based on collaboration and partnerships among farmers, traders, veterinary and animal production services, researchers, governments, civil society and development partners. With the growing pig trade throughout Africa, the regional strategy will promote viable pig production and improve the livelihoods of all actors in the pig and pork value chains, especially poor people. . . .

‘Together, AU-IBAR, FAO and ILRI are currently articulating the action plan into short-, medium- and long-term streams of activities and identifying the stakeholders and institutions responsible for each activity. They are seeking to bring them together to collectively participate in finding solutions that address the main hindrances faced in pig production and marketing in order to create an enabling environment and ensure the sustainable development of the pig sector in Africa.’

What’s new about this project for Africa is that it combines social and economic research with biological surveillance of viral prevalence and diversity to understand better how the virus spreads. Household surveys of pig keepers and information from other people in the market chain (e.g. pig butchers and traders) is enabling the project team to learn about the impacts of the disease and, conversely, how pig keeping and trading practices impact ASF infection and transmission dynamics.

The project is furthering understanding of farmer capacity to adopt simple biosecurity measures – such as restricting access to pigs to all but essential workers, changing or disinfecting footwear on entry and exit to pig production facilities and reducing risks from feed sources – that could reduce the impacts of the disease, and is providing this essential information to smallholder pig farmers in eastern Uganda and western Kenya

Read the whole article at the FAO website: FAO joins with AU-IBAR and ILRI on regional strategy for the control of African swine fever in Africa, 26 Sep 2014.

Read more on ILRI’s website about the project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, is led by the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) and is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT, formerly AusAID).

For further information, contact ILRI scientist Richard Bishop at r.bishop [at] cgiar.org

Filed under: Animal Diseases, Animal Health, ASF, BecA, BioSciences, CRP37, Disease Control, East Africa, ILRI, Kenya, Pigs, Project, Uganda Tagged: AU-IBAR, DFAT, FAO

Satellite imagery protects cattle keepers from drought


Domesticated cattle are depicted in this rock art made 8,000 to 5,000 years ago in the Sahel, when this part of the Sahara was still green and before it began to be hit by drought.

Using data from satellite imagery, insurers can assess the impact of drought on the vegetation that livestock need to survive. Could this be a lifeline for Kenyan farmers?

Article by ILRI’s Bryn Davies and Andrew Mude

‘The arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) of Kenya are among the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the world. . . . More than three million pastoralist households are regularly hit by increasingly severe droughts, costing the economy an estimated $12.1bn between 2008 and 2011. For livelihoods that rely mainly on livestock, the high livestock mortality rate caused by drought has devastating effects, rendering these pastoralists among the most vulnerable populations in Kenya. As the impacts of climate change unfold, the link between drought risk, vulnerability and poverty becomes significantly stronger.

‘Over the past several years, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with Cornell University and technical partners, has pursued a research program aimed at designing, developing and implementing insurance products to protect livestock keepers from drought-related asset losses. Using satellite imagery to assess the amount of forage available, Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) provides insured pastoralists with a pay-out in times of drought based on predicted rather than actual livestock deaths.

‘In order to launch IBLI as a commercial product, ILRI and Takaful Insurance of Africa came together in August 2013 to offer a sharia-compliant version of IBLI in Wajir County with plans of expansion into other areas of northern Kenya later this year. As a sharia compliant product, Takaful does not go against the teachings of Islam and is guided by the principles of improved welfare for all. For example, it offers mutual or “community insurance”, whereby the insurer charges a set fee, rather than applying interest, which in sharia-law can be seen as a form of gambling.

‘The CEO of Takaful Insurance of Africa, Hassan Bashir, was born into a cattle-herding Somali family, and as Kenya’s first sharia-compliant insurance company, he wanted to solve his community’s biggest problem – the loss of livestock due to drought.

‘Takaful requires that those who need protection participate in a risk pooling scheme. Fund participants are grouped into geographically defined areas that have a set contribution based on local pasture conditions and they receive an indemnity when predicted livestock mortality from drought rises above the trigger level.

. . . [T]he scheme has had its successes. In March 2014, all 101 policyholders received a payout for a low level of drought in the area and sales between August/September 2013 and January/February 2014 grew by 138% with the expense ratio to Takaful Insurance decreasing by 100%. . . .

So far, the Index-Based Livestock Insurance program has been linked to a 50% drop in ‘distress’ sales of livestock to raise cash in times of drought, a 33% reduced likelihood of having to eat significantly smaller meals and a 33% reduction in dependence on food aid.

‘. . . [E]ven though IBLI does not offer complete protection against herd loss, it is a promising option for addressing poverty traps that arise from catastrophic drought risk. Uptake has had a range of benefits for those insured, including improved wellbeing and a reduction in drastic coping strategies when drought strikes.’

Read the whole article in the Guardian Professional: Livestock insurance could protect cattle-herders in Africa from drought, 30 Sep 2014.

Andrew Mude is a principal economist at ILRI, where he leads the IBLI project; Bryn Davies is IBLI’s market and capacity development manager.

Filed under: Award, CRP11, Drought, Drylands, East Africa, Geodata, ILRI, Insurance, Kenya, LSE, Pastoralism, Vulnerability Tagged: Andrew Mude, Bryn Davies, Cornell University, Guardian Professional, Hassan Bashir, IBLI, Takaful Insurance

New Scientist reports on Nairobi study mapping out role of urbanization in zoonotic pathogen transmission

 Dairy cow

A cow in Kenya. An on-going study in Nairobi, Kenya is investigating how zoonotic pathogens are introduced to urban populations through livestock commodity value-chains (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

A study by 12 Kenyan and UK institutions, including the University of Liverpool, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the University of Nairobi, is investigating the role of urbanization in the origin and spread of zoonotic pathogens (those that spread between humans and animals) in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to an article published online and in print in the New Scientist in August 2014, the Nairobi study is investigating the effects of ‘close interactions between people and animals’ in urban settings on the spread of pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella, which can infect both humans and animals.

The ‘Epidemiology, ecology and social-economics of disease emergence in Nairobi’ project is expected to reveal how pathogens are introduced into urban populations through ‘livestock commodity value chains’. Livestock are a key part of the study because zoonotic pathogens are likely to come from livestock and the close interaction between livestock, their products and people. The often cramped and unsanitary conditions found in informal settlements in African cities like Nairobi raise the risk of these pathogens crossing the species barrier.

According to the article, there have been cases of these pathogens getting into food chains in Africa. ‘In Swaziland in 1992, infected cattle passed a strain of E. coli to humans that caused bloody diarrhoea – the first such outbreak in the developing world – and the number of people visiting their doctor for diarrhoea jumped sevenfold in a month. Across Africa, diarrhoea is the single biggest killer of children.’

Researchers in the project are visiting livestock owners in Nairobi’s informal settlements such as Dandora and Korogocho and collecting blood and faecal samples from their animals for microbial DNA analysis. ‘By identifying where pathogens originate and concentrate along the food chains, the team hopes to make such outbreaks less likely.’

‘“The way you design your city and the way you structure your food system can play into a policy to prevent disease emergence,” says epidemiologist Eric Fèvre of the University of Liverpool, UK, who is based at ILRI in Nairobi.”

Fevre says the project is “‘redrawing the map of Nairobi, not based on geography but on the connectedness of animal and human populations, in terms of the bacteria that they share.”‘

Partners in this project, which is funded by the UK Research Council Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases (ESEI) initiative, include the University of Liverpool, the Development Planning Unit at University College London, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Nairobi, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the African Population and Health Research Center, the Royal Veterinary College, London and ILRI.

The article says that ‘so far, the effort has revealed that Nairobi’s food system is massively diverse, with meat and dairy products produced, sold and consumed across socio-economic boundaries. Pathogens that are widespread in poverty-stricken neighborhoods are also present in high-income areas.’ Researcher have also ‘found high concentrations of E. coli and alarming levels of antibiotic resistance linked to unregulated sales of veterinary drugs.’

Read the whole story: Mapping the web of disease in Nairobi’s invisible city

Find out more about the Epidemiology, ecology and socio-economics of disease emergence in Nairobi project

Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, CRP4, East Africa, Emerging Diseases, Environment, Epidemiology, FSZ, Health (human), Kenya, Research Tagged: Eric Fevre, Kenya, New Scientist, zoonoses

Developing capacities to address gender in agricultural projects in Ethiopia

Participants at Africa RISING gender capacity development workshop

Workshop participants

From 18-20 August, the Africa RISING project in Ethiopia joined forces with the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish to hold a gender training for staff and partners in both projects.

The workshop aimed to introduce workshop participants to:

  • Different concepts of gender and the importance of integrating gender issues in agriculture
  • Basic tools and techniques for conducting gender analysis in agricultural development work
  • Gendered approach to assessing agricultural value chains
  • Different gender energizers that can introduce gender issues
  • Participatory communication strategies that address gender issues

Participants attended from agricultural research institutes at national and regional level, Bureaus of Agriculture (at Woreda level), universities, the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs.

Pre and post workshop evaluations were very positive. They stressed the excitement and interest in learning practical ways to integrate gender from exercises and tools that were shared in the workshop. They also appreciated the diverse backgrounds of the participants, the ease with which the facilitators shared their knowledge, expertise, and personal experiences, and the fun, interactive ways to engage communities and colleagues in discussing a sensitive topic.

Participants expressed their needs for further support in their daily work, punctuated by further trainings to deepen skills in gender analysis and communication, to exchange ideas and learn from one another, as well as to learn about emerging new ideas and approaches to gender.

Areas to work on included:

  • Greater depth in understanding of gender-related concepts.
  • Elaboration and use of gender indicators.
  • Learning about new gender tools and approaches.
  • Incorporation of participatory approaches.
  • Integrating gender in the project cycle.
  • Need to capacitate teams, rather than individuals.

The workshop was led by Kathy Colversion and Annet Mulema with inputs from ILRI’s capacity development unit

Based on a story by Tigist Endashaw

Filed under: ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, CRP12, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Gender, ILRI, Knowledge and Information, LGI, Women

‘Ecohealth’ approaches linking human and environmental health in Kenya

Mother, child and cows outside their homestead in Busia, Kenya

Mother, child and the family cows outside their homestead in Busia, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith).

‘Many key health challenges like Malaria in Kenya can only be managed through the integrated approach that links environment to human health, experts say.

‘According to researchers attending the Ecohealth2014 in Montreal, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for health challenges like malaria and animal diseases.

‘According to Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and programme manager at the Nairobi-based the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), there is already proven transmission of diseases between animals and human beings.

“We can no longer look at human health in isolation from the environment which people live,” she told The Star in Montreal.

ILRI is leading most ecohealth approaches in Kenya, in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre, a Canadian corporation that supports research in developing countries, and has regional offices in Nairobi.

‘Institutions across the world are increasingly adopting ecohealth approaches to tackle diseases and effects of climate change.

Delia noted ILRI is currently conducting training of meat inspectors in Uganda to prevent transmission of diseases from pigs to people.

A farm sampling carried last year out on more than 1,200 pig-rearing households in Uganda found presence of African swine fever, brucellosis, cysticercosis, diamond skin disease, intestinal helminths, salmonellosis, sarcoptic mange, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis.

“We are also looking at value chain addition, training dairy farmers on improved farming methods to produce more using less space and implements,” she said. . . .

‘Ecohealth approaches are scientifically proven to be effective in addressing human health challenges across the world. . . .

‘Ecohealth is a field of research, education and practice that integrates scientific evidence, professional expertise and community experience with a view to improving the health of humans, animals and ecosystems.

‘The conference statement, released at the end of the week-long meeting, also noted that links between human and animal health will be critical in the face of climate change.

“A focus on health—across humans, animals and other species—offers new opportunities to harness synergies across disparate efforts to address climate change,” said the statement.’

Read the whole article at The Star (Kenya): Ecohealth best way to stop malaria in Kenya—Experts, 29 Aug 2014.

Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Health, Article, ASF, Brucellosis, CRP4, Dairying, Disease Control, East Africa, Emerging Diseases, FSZ, Health (human), ILRI, Kenya, Pigs, Uganda, Zoonotic Diseases Tagged: Delia Grace, EcoHealth, Ecohealth2014, OneHealth, The Star (Kenya)

New analyses highlight the extent of livestock production in Africa’s drylands

Typical Abergelle goat with long horns

Typical long-horned goats of Abergelle Amhara, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

‘Quantitative information on the importance of livestock systems in African drylands is scarce. A new study by Tim Robinson, of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Giulia Conchedda, of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), helps to redress this. The study is a contribution to a World Bank background paper, Africa Drylands Study: The Economics of Resilience of Livestock in the African Drylands (forthcoming in 2014). . . .

‘These new analyses highlight the extent of livestock production in the drylands of Africa. In addition, livestock numbers and densities across the continent and by focus country are presented for the four major groups of ruminant livestock—cattle, camels, sheep and goats—differentiated by aridity index zone and production system. These findings, updated with new datasets and revised modeling techniques, demonstrate the disproportionately high numbers of livestock in Africa’s drylands. Three-quarters of all tropical livestock units on the continent occur in these drylands rather than humid and other ecological zones.

‘Finally, estimates of the numbers of rural poor and poor rural livestock keepers are presented for the aridity index-derived production systems in each of the focus countries. These estimates demonstrate that Africa’s vulnerable rural populations are concentrated in the continent’s great drylands. . . .’

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog

Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, Burkina Faso, Chad, Drylands, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Geodata, ILRI, Kenya, Livestock, LSE, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pastoralism, Pro-Poor Livestock, Report, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa Tagged: CGIAR_DD, Djibouti, FAO, Giulia Conchedda, Mauritania, South Sudan, Tim Robinson, World Bank

African drylands: Livestock demand and supply

Village women and livestock in Niger

Village women and livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘A key function of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is to estimate food security across the world. These estimates are published each year as the State of Food Insecurity in the World reports. The number of under-nourished people is re-evaluated annually using a food balance sheet approach. For a broad group of crops and livestock commodities, national estimates of the food available for human consumption are made.

‘ILRI’s Tim Robinson and colleagues believe these estimates present the possibility of mapping the changing demand for livestock products and also the associated changes in production that will be required to meet future demand. . . .

‘This study is a contribution to a World Bank background paper, Africa Drylands Study: The Economics of Resilience of Livestock in the African Drylands (forthcoming in 2014). . . .’

Read the full post on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog


Filed under: Africa, Animal Products, Burkina Faso, Chad, Drylands, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Geodata, ILRI, Kenya, Livestock, LSE, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pastoralism, Pro-Poor Livestock, Report, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa Tagged: CGIAR_DD, Djibouti, Mauritania, South Sudan, Tim Robinson, World Bank

Reviewing goat research and development activities in Ethiopia

This project report by Solomon Abegaz Kebede, Okeyo Mwai, Grum Gebreyesus, Aynalem Haile, Barbara Ann Rischkowsky, Solomon Gizaw and Tadelle Dessie was released by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in August 2014.

Ethiopia is home, excluding some pastoral areas of Afar and Somali regions, to approximately 24 million goats. Goats are amongst the commonest farm animal species which sustain the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists and agropastoralists alike. They fulfil various functions such as generating cash income, serving as household security, accumulating capital, and fulfilling cultural obligations.

Goat production in Ethiopia contributes significantly to national export earnings and the livelihoods of producers, especially poor rural households. Across the whole country, goats provide meat, milk, cash, skins, manure and security (insurance), as well as banking and gifts.

The total goat population of Ethiopia has increased by 30 per cent in the last 12 years. Goats comprise 5.32 per cent of the total tropical livestock units of Ethiopia, contribute an estimated 12 to 14 per cent of meat products, 10.5 per cent of milk production and 6 per cent of all animals exported.

This report reviews past and present goat research and development activities in Ethiopia, drawing key lessons, identifying key constraints and opportunities, and suggesting research and development interventions to improve goat production and productivity.

Download the full report

Filed under: ABS, Africa, Animal Production, BecA, BioSciences, CRP37, East Africa, Ethiopia, Goats, ILRI, Report, Small Ruminants

Erfolgreiche Innovationsplattform der Milchwirtschaft in Nordost-Tansania

Reposted with permission from: Ländliche Entwicklung Newsletter, Nr. 06 / 2014, GIZ, Abteilung Ländliche Entwicklung und Agrarwirtschaft

Gemeinsam haben alle Akteure entlang der Milchwertschöpfungskette einschließlich Politik und Forschung in der Tangaregion im Nordosten Tansanias 2008 eine Innovationsplattform auf die Beine gestellt. Die Tanga Dairy Platform hat sich ziemlich rasch zu einer festen Institution entwickelt in der alle vertreten sind, die an der Milchwertschöpfungskette in der Tangaregion beteiligt sind. Bei den vierteljährlichen Treffen kommen alle Probleme zur Sprache, mit denen Erzeuger und Verarbeiter zu kämpfen haben.

Die Tanga Dairy Platform hat zudem die volle Unterstützung der Regionalregierung. Die bislang größten Erfolge der Plattform sind die gemeinsame Festsetzung der regionalen Erzeugerpreise für Milch und die Reduktion der Mehrwertsteuer für die Milchwirtschaft in ganz Tansania auf null Prozent. Außerdem konnte die Plattform durchsetzen, dass das bestehende Verbot für die Ansiedlung von Milchviehbetrieben in der Stadt Tanga und Umgebung aufgehoben wurde. Die Plattform dient inzwischen als Modell für andere Regionen. So wurde beispielsweise in der Nachbarprovinz Morogoro erst kürzlich ebenfalls eine solche Plattform eingerichtet.

In der Studie The Tanga Dairy Platform: fostering innovations for more efficient dairy chain coordination in Tanzania werden die Hintergründe für den Erfolg und auch die künftigen Herausforderungen detailliert dargestellt.

Autoren der Studie sind Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler des Internationalen Instituts für Nutztierforschung (ILRI) und des Internationalen Instituts für Tropische Landwirtschaft (CIAT). Beide Einrichtungen werden von der Beratungsgruppe Entwicklungsorientierte Agrarforschung (BEAF) der GIZ im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) gefördert.

Weitere Informationen

Video I

Video II


Filed under: ASSP, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, Innovation Systems, Southern Africa, Tanzania Tagged: innovation platforms

Cold dawns and blistered feet: The art of tracking Gabra herders in the Chalbi Desert


Crossing the Chalbi Desert, in northern Kenya (photo credit: Claire Okell/ILRI).

‘It’s cold when I open my eyes. And still dark. Groping for my glasses I squash them on my nose and look up. The stars are enjoying their final twilight hour. Somewhere a lamb bleats and a mother returns its call. All else is quiet.

‘There is a muffled grunt as I bid good morning to my fellow team members in their neighbouring tents. Mummified in the traditional pastoral night attire of kikois that serve as scarves, wind breakers and blankets, they slowly unravel themselves.

‘Our team had walked 18km the previous night to reach Ollom, a small sprawling village on the west fringe of the Chalbi desert. The rains had started, threatening to flood the desert and cut us off from three herders we were tracing, so two team members and I had crossed the narrowest part of the desert on foot. . . .’

Read the full article on the CGIAR Development Dialogues blog.


Filed under: Article, CRP37, Drylands, East Africa, ILRI, Kenya, LSE, Pastoralism, Pro-Poor Livestock, Resilience, Vulnerability Tagged: CGIAR_DD, Chalbi Desert, Claire Okell, IBLI

Wildlife populations are declining dramatically in Kenya’s Kajiado County

 Wildlife and livestock

Wildlife and livestock still share the rangelands of Kitengela, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘Wildlife populations are declining severely in many protected areas and unprotected pastoral areas of Africa, researchers from leading universities and international research institutes said.

‘”Rapid large-scale land use changes, poaching, climate change, rising population pressures, governance, policy, economic and socio-cultural transformations and competition with livestock all contribute to the declines in abundance,” lead researcher Dr Joseph Ogutu of the University of Hohenheim, Institute for Crop Science, Stuttgart, Germany said at the release of a report.

‘Ogutu observed the population dynamics of 15 wildlife and four livestock species monitored using aerial surveys from 1977 to 2011 within Kajiado County of Kenya, with a rapidly expanding human population, settlements, cultivation and other developments show a major decline of wildlife.

“The abundance of the 14 most common wildlife species declined by 67 percent between 1977 and 2011 in both Eastern (Amboseli Ecosystem) and Western Kajiado,” he added. . . .

‘The distribution of wildlife contracted dramatically during 1977–2011, most especially for wildebeest, giraffe and impala.

‘Only zebra and ostrich distributions expanded in the county. However, livestock distribution expanded to densely cover most of the county.

‘The scientists blame the decline on recurrent droughts, intensifying human population pressures, land use changes and anthropogenic impacts.

They observed the future of wildlife populations on the pastoral lands of Kenya critically depends on the good will and support of the local communities who continue to tolerate wildlife on their lands despite the huge costs they incur.’

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Hohenheim’s Institute for Crop Science, in Stuttgart, Germany; the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa; the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya; the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University, in the US; and the African Wildlife Foundation, Wildlife Direct and the Kenya Wildlife Service, all in Kenya.

Read the whole article in the GlobalPost: Africa’s wildlife population declining in protected areas, 25 Aug 2014.

Filed under: Article, Biodiversity, East Africa, Geodata, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, LSE, Pastoralism, Wildlife Tagged: GlobalPost, Joseph Ogutu

ILRI at the Africa Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE) 2014 Conference in Uganda

Hope Ruhindi Mwesigye, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and Edward Ssekandi, Vice president of Uganda

ILRI at the 2014 African Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2014): ILRI’s Danilo Pezo receives a gift in recognition of ILRI’s sponsorship role presented by Uganda Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Uganda Minister of State for Animal Industry Bright Rwamirama (photo credit: ILRI).

Article by Evelyn Katingi, communications officer for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) participated actively in the African Livestock Conference and Exhibition (ALiCE2014), the theme of which was ‘Developing livestock value chains and improving livelihood in Africa‘, held at the Speke Resort & Conference Centre, in Kampala, Uganda, 18–20 June 2014.

Members of ILRI’s office in Uganda served on the conference’s hosting committee, which was led by Nicholas Kauta, director of Animal Resources of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF). The opening speech and inauguration of the conference were made by Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, vice president of Uganda, who was also the conference’s guest of honour.

Danilo Pezo, ILRI’s country representative in Uganda, gave a keynote presentation in the inaugural session—Evolution of animal production in Africa and other emerging markets—on behalf of ILRI’s director general, Jimmy Smith.

Key messages delivered by ILRI’s Pezo
• In 2030, demand for animal-source foods in sub-Saharan Africa will double that of 2000
• While monogastric production (pigs and poultry) in Africa is in rapid transition to industrial systems, at least 30% of pig production will remain in smallholder hands by 2015
• Smallholder mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are competitive:
> 90% of pig production in Uganda is made by smallholders (there are great opportunities for increasing pig productivity if diseases such as Africa swine fever are better controlled and farmers gain better access to technology and market information)
> 1 million smallholders in Kenya keep Africa’s largest dairy herd

ILRI’s Emily Ouma, agriculture economist, and Michel Dione, post-doctoral fellow in animal health–epidemiology, were discussants in ALiCE2014 sessions on ‘Livestock Industry Sector Policies and Economics’, and ‘Animal Health and Welfare’, respectively.

Vice president of Uganda Hon. Edward Ssekandi, right being handed ILRI's brochure by ILRI's Emily Ouma and Danilo Pezo at the ILRI exhibit

Emily Ouma and Danilo Pezo talk to the Ugandan Vice-President Edward Ssekandi at ILRI’s exhibit at ALiCE2014 (photo credit: ILRI).

Ugandan Vice-President Ssekandi and Minister of State for Animal Industry Rwamirama heard about ILRI’s work, particularly two Uganda projects− Smallholder Pig Value Chains Development in Uganda (SPVCD) and Safe Food Fair Food (SFFF) − at ILRI’s exhibition stand. ILRI’s exhibit provided information on other work done by ILRI in different livestock systems and value chains in Africa. Information on multi-institutional CGIAR research programs that ILRI and its partners are participating in was also highlighted. Visitors to ILRI’s exhibit stand included members of the media and farmer groups and general public; national and local government officers; researchers and lecturers from African universities; and representatives of financial institutions and private-sector companies..

ILRI’s Tony Brenton-Rule, head of business development, and Azage Tegegne, manager of the ILRI-led Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders project, also participated in ALICE 2014 and were at hand to answer questions from visitors to ILRI’s exhibit.


Filed under: Agri-Health, Animal Production, ASF, CRP37, CRP4, East Africa, Event report, Food Safety, FSZ, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, PA, Pigs, Uganda Tagged: ALiCE2014, Danilo Pezo, Emily Ouma, LIVES, Safe Food Fair Food, Uganda Minister of State for Animal Industry, Uganda Vice President

Eight principles for land and water management in the Nile Basin

The Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) aimed to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands through a landscape approach to rainwater management. At the end of the Challenge, the team distilled insights, findings and experiences into eight key messages which, taken together, contribute to  new water and land management paradigm that enables poor smallholder farmers improve their food security, livelihoods and incomes while conserving the natural resource base.

The paradigm is introduced in this digital story:

You can also view each key message as a separate (and different) digital story:

  1. Empower local communities and develop their leadership capacities to achieve long-term benefits and sustainable outcomes.
  2. Integrate and share scientific and local knowledge and encourage innovation through ‘learning by doing’.
  3. Strengthen and transform institutional and human capacities among all stakeholders to achieve the potential benefits of sustainable land management.
  4. Create, align and implement incentives for all parties to successfully implement sustainable innovative programs at scale.
  5. Adapt new models, learning and planning tools and improved learning processes to increase the effectiveness of planning, implementation, and capacity building.
  6. Integrate multiple rainwater management interventions at watershed and basin scales to benefit rainwater management programs.
  7. Attend to downstream and off-site benefits of rainwater management as well as upstream or on-farm benefits and costs.
  8. Improve markets, value chains and multi-stakeholder institutions to enhance the benefits and sustainability of rainwater management investments.

Download the brief with all the messages.

Read the full technical report “A new integrated watershed rainwater management paradigm for Ethiopia: Key messages from the Nile Basin Development Challenge, 2009–2013

Read the Nile Basin summary

The NBDC was implemented by a consortium led by the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Water Management Institute. It was funded by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF).

Filed under: ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, Crop-Livestock, CRP5, East Africa, Environment, Ethiopia, Extension, Farming Systems, ILRI, ILRIComms, Innovation Systems, Livestock-Water, Nile, NRM, Research, Water Tagged: NBDC

DAAD research grants for young Kenyan scientists and academics 2015/2016

Application deadline: Tuesday September 30, 2014

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is offering up to seven (7) research grants for young Kenyan academics and scientists for the academic year 2015/2016 to pursue a PhD in Germany.

About the scholarships

  • Open to all fields of research
  • Have no age limit
  • Master’s degree must not be older than six (6) years at the time of application

Among the main requirements is a well developed research proposal (between 10 to 15 pages). The applicants will also be required to find a supervisor in Germany or get admission into a structured PhD programme.

For more information, contact

Anja Bengelstorff
Programme Officer
DAAD Regional Office for Africa
3rd flr, Madison Insurance House, Upper Hill Close, P.O. Box 14050 – 00800, Nairobi

Tel: +254 – 020 – 2729741
Email: bengelstorff@daadafrica.org

or click here to visit website

Filed under: Award, CapDev, East Africa, Kenya, Scholarship Tagged: DAAD

Small-scale irrigation to battle poverty and under-nutrition in Ethiopia

The Innovation Laboratory for Small Scale Irrigation (ILSSI) project recently convened partners at a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from June 18–19, 2014.

The project is part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative. It is a five-year project in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania aimed at benefiting the region’s farmers by improving effective use of scarce water supplies through interventions in small-scale irrigation.

Various stakeholders participated in the meeting along with core partners from Texas A&M University, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and The North Carolina A&T State University. The meeting brought together more than 80 participants including higher government officials from Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Water and Energy, partners, donors, stakeholders and representatives from academic and research institutions.

USAID Feed the Future Innovation Laboratory for Small Scale Irrigation (FtF ILSII) project first annual planning meeting participants

In his opening remarks, Simon Langan of IWMI argued that by using irrigation well, we can produce more food per unit area even more than rainfed agriculture. He said that this five year project ‘will help farmers move from food insecure to food secure and move from being food secure to being profitable farmers’.

‘Look at irrigation as a system not as an individual component’ – Simon Langan of IWMI

Neville Clarke of Texas A&M explained that the project will identify the constraints facing irrigation and propose ways to reduce those constraints.

Biniam Iyob, water and irrigation advisor at USAID said that a lot of farmers [In Ethiopia] depend on agriculture and most of them are small-scale farmers. He said that irrigation is a big constraint for these farmers and  he explained that the ILSII project has to benefit many of these people. He also mentioned that the FtF program more generally is about increasing the incomes of small scale farmers and making sure that gender is really important aspect in the process, because development is just not about income, it is also about nutrition. It is about women’s’ participation, and environmental protection. Building the capacity of the local partners, individuals from universities and governments is also big part of sustainable development for this country.

‘This initiative won’t work without the involvement of our national partners’ – Biniam Iyob

H.E. Mr. Sileshi Getahun, State Minister Natural Resource, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia makes speechIn his remarks, H.E. Ato Sileshi Getahun, State Minister for Natural Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture said that Ethiopian agriculture is mainly based on rainfed system. More than 85% of crop production is from rainfed agriculture and not from irrigation – this only contributes 15–20%.

‘But producing using rainwater alone isn’t becoming promising these days. Global conditions show that production with rainwater alone is not becoming dependable because of climate change.’  He argued that irrigation looks promising as a way to sustain and increase agricultural productivity and production. He emphasized that irrigation should be integrated and connected with land management activities like shade management and natural resource management so the water we use for irrigation itself is sustainable.

He also pointed out various challenges. ‘When considering small scale irrigation and water management, we should also focus on the types of products that are being produced by farmers. The products have to be marketable. The farmers have to get adequate market access as well as the right market to sell their products.’ He said.

‘For Ethiopia, we sometimes are challenged with getting market access for our farmers, particularly in the dry season because, more than 90% of the irrigation is during the dry period. When farmers bring their products to the market, the supply will be high and the demand will be low.’

‘We need to look into market access, infrastructure, value chain and we have to also look into the whole system starting from water availing, producing, bringing to the market, agro processing and look into how much the farmer is getting and putting in its own pocket.’

‘I hope this is a project that looks into this whole value chain. We need technologies that are identified, generated and transferred to the farmers with the help of ILSSI project researchers. We also need our farmers, middlemen, practitioners, and experts to be involved because they are the ones actually in disposal of creating those capacities and skills.’

He concluded: ‘Your discussion in this meeting have to be considered in such a way that you are building a football team. We all have a common agenda, our common agenda is to feed the future, that is, on small-scale irrigation. We have a defender, midfielder, offensive and goalkeeper, if one is not performing well, then it damages the whole team. The result of the team is scoring a goal, if the goal is scored and the team wins, the advantage will be for the whole team. If part of the team who are working in this initiative fails somewhere, then the project will not be successful. The success lies in working with team for the betterment and for the common goal we have.’

See related documents

Filed under: ASSP, CRP5, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Event report, ILRI, Irrigation, Nile, Water Tagged: ILSSI, IWMI

Gates-funded East African Dairy Development project expands into Tanzania

Faustina Akyoo,  dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania.

Faustina Akyoo is a dairy farmer in Tanga, Tanzania. Her five dairy cows are an important livelihood  asset for her family  (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Earlier this year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided a grant of USD25.5 million to boost dairy technology uptake in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Given through Heifer International, the grant is being used to implement technology projects under the East African Dairy Development (EADD) project, which aims to support 179,000 families living on 1–5 acre plots and keeping a few dairy cows.

‘More than 200 participants attended the launch of the Tanzanian phase of the project in late March 2014 among them players in the country’s dairy sector, including dairy processors, officials from the Tanzania Dairy Board, dairy farmers, banks and microfinance organisations.

‘The EADD is a regional program led by the Heifer International in partnership with the International Livestock Research institute (ILRI), TechnoServe, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Breeder Service Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM). . . .

‘According to Heifer International, the implementer of the project, the aim is to strengthen relationships between farmers, processers, distributors and consumers in a region where milk demand outstrips supply. . . .

‘During the launch, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is major EADD partner, was represented by Amos Omore, the ILRI country representative in Tanzania and Edgar Twine, a value chain economist.

Read the whole article by Mwangi Mumero in African Farming and Food Processing, Gates Foundation rolls out Tanzanian dairy project, 26 Jun 2014.

And read an earlier article on this topic in an earlier issue of African Farming and Food ProcessingGates Foundation issues US$26mn grant to East African farmers, 30 Jan 2014.

Filed under: Article, CRP37, Dairying, East Africa, ILRI, ILRIComms, Integrated Sciences, Kenya, LGI, PA, Tanzania, Uganda Tagged: African Breeder Service Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM), African Farming and Food Processing Magazine, Amos Omore, EADD, Edgar Twine, ICRAF

More pork by and for the poor: Catalysing smallholder pig value chains in Uganda

Inception workshop participants

Last week in Mukono, the International Livestock Research Institute convened an inception and planning workshop for the new ‘more pork by and for the poor’ project. With funds from Irish Aid, the project will catalyse emerging smallholder pig value chains in Uganda for food security and poverty reduction.

The new project builds on the results of the smallholder pig value chain development (SPVCD) project that was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2011-2014). The new project is part of the wider pig value chain development in Uganda program of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish which comprises several associated projects to strengthen food and nutritional security through transformation of pig value chains.

At the inception workshop, project leader Emily Ouma introduced the project pointing out some of the challenges and constraints in the value chain, including:

  • Poor husbandry practices and high mortality rates from diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) due to poor implementation of biosecurity measures.
  • Inbreeding and poor selection of breeding stock.
  • Seasonality of feed supply and lack of capacity to develop nutritionally balanced feed rations.
  • High costs and poor quality of commercial feeds.
  • Lack of appropriate organisational models to enhance access to quality inputs, services and pig markets.
  • Pig farmers lack voice – and tend to carry out individual sales.
  • Poor access to extension, quality animal health services and financial services.
  • High transaction costs incurred by pig traders – transport and search costs.
  • No structured pig meat inspection and lack of capacity by meat inspectors.
  • Poor waste management – e.g. abattoirs (drainage of blood into water bodies).
  • Practices that could increase the risk for foodborne and occupational diseases./li>
  • Poor household nutrition.

She also drew attention to the project’s focus on gender, ensuring that women as well as men benefit along the chain.



According to Ouma, the new four-year research-for-development project will lead to improved food and nutritional security for poor households, improved livelihoods for value chain actors, and better performance of smallholder pig value chain systems in selected areas in Uganda. It will achieve these by testing and piloting best bet options (entry points) to improve on-farm productivity, household nutrition, and efficiency and pork safety in the marketing chain. These will produce validated options to form part of an integrated intervention strategy and an evidence base demonstrating the benefits such a strategy can achieve.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Chris Rutebarika, Assistant Commissioner, Disease Control in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). He prefaced his opening words saying “we are a pork-loving country, despite the problems associated with pigs.”

He highlighted the problems caused to farmers by African swine fever, which he said can be prevented by established good practices that cut the transmission cycle. He talked about feeds and feeding challenges and suggested that the current pig genepool needs to be improved: “Without proper genetics we will remain with stunted pigs” as well as pigs unable to resist prevalent diseases. He also touched on issues around food and environmental safety and pig waste management.

Finally, he reflected on the project design itself. It is timely he said, it builds on the past few years work, and it will build capacities. He called on partners present to make sure that results of research in the five focus districts need to be ‘augmented’ so they reach all of Uganda’s 111 districts. He also called on participants not to forget women’s roles in pig production – men need to grow their own pigs and not just sell the pigs produced by women!

After this rousing call to action by Dr. Rutebarika, participants spent the first day reviewing the initial set of results and interventions (mainly derived from the SPVCD project), and validating project choices, priorities and impact pathways to address feed, genetics, health, market, and food safety constraints. The second day was spent in detailed planning for the coming 12 months.
See presentations from the workshop:


Filed under: Africa, ASF, ASSP, CRP37, East Africa, Livestock, Pigs, Uganda, Value Chains Tagged: Irish Aid

East and Southern Africa drylands learning event on community based adaptation and resilience

The impacts of climate change are threatening the livelihoods of already vulnerable pastoralist, agro pastoralist and farming communities in East and Southern African drylands. In order to meet the scale and magnitude of these challenges, where extreme events and recurrent drought will be ongoing features, actors in development, adaptation, disaster risk management, social protection and humanitarian action are recognizing the need to focus on achieving resilient outcomes.

Community based adaptation (CBA) to climate change is providing valuable practical approaches and evidence of use for drylands related programmes and policy decisions.

Aim of the learning event
Bringing together stakeholders from a diverse range of disciplines working with dryland communities across East and Southern Africa, the aim of the event is to facilitate learning from experiences and evidence on climate change adaptation, in particular CBA, and resilience. Participants will co-generate new insights on the links between CBA and achieving resilient development.

The conference will explore:

  1. What is the added value that CBA practical experience brings to achieving resilience in dryland communities?
  2. How are climate change and related responses exacerbating the entrenched drivers of differential vulnerability among communities living in drylands? What are the barriers and drivers to change?
  3. What would an integrated and coherent approach to achieving resilience in vulnerable dryland communities look like?

CARE Ethiopia will host the event together with CARE’s Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), the CGIAR Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security programme (CCAFS) and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

Target audience: Practitioners working with drylands issues (government, non-government and donors) and researchers, who have knowledge and experiences to share on adaptation and resilience in drylands. Policy makers concerned with East and Southern African drylands are also welcome to register.

Participation will be dependent on the relevance of information shared in the registration form.

Location: ILRI complex, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Date: 1–4 September, 2014

Download the full concept note here

Express your interest to participate: download the registration form here and email it to alp@careclimatechange.org

Deadline for registration: June 10 at midnight (GMT + 3)

Filed under: Climate Change, CRP7, Drylands, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Livelihoods, Pastoralism, Resilience, Southern Africa Tagged: ALP, CARE, CBA, CCAFS, ICIPE

FeedSeed project trains forage seed entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

Trainees learning to plant forage seeds

Millions of poor livestock keepers depend on the availability of forages and fodder to feed their livestock throughout the year. In Ethiopia, and elsewhere, a critical constraint to the wide availability of animal feed or forage is the lack of profitable and sustainable forage seed companies.

The ‘FeedSeed’ project at the International Livestock Research Institute is working with national public and private partners to help create a sustainable forage seed supply system in Ethiopia. The idea is to help local entrepreneurs start up forage seed businesses, mainly by establishing a public business incubator that can provide training and mentoring to the entrepreneurs. Once going, these enterprises will produce and sell quality seeds to the wider farming community, increasing livestock productivity and raising incomes of livestock farmers.

From 7-11 April 2014, the project organized a technical and business skills development training course for potential forage seed entrepreneurs.

Hosted by project partners the Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI), the course assisted project business clients (farmers, private companies and cooperatives) to start up or expand forage seed businesses and ensure a good return on investment. The training covered both technical and business skills and also business development topics which were identified by the trainees during the pre-training assessment. Trainees also visited Eden Field Agri Seed Enterprise – another project partner – to better understand the business environment.

The project on ‘piloting climate-adaptive forage seed systems in Ethiopia (FeedSeed)’ is funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Intenationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Filed under: Africa, Animal Feeding, ASSP, Capacity Strengthening, CRP7, East Africa, Ethiopia, Event, Feeds, Forages, ILRI, Seeds Tagged: BMZ, FeedSeed, GIZ

ILRI streamlines modular trainings for graduate fellows

CapDev training module on data management

The Capacity Development unit has produced new training guidelines for graduate fellow researchers at ILRI (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

New training guidelines for graduate fellow researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are now in place.

The new guidelines were revised in November 2013 by ILRI’s Capacity Development (CapDev) unit after an assessment of the training needs of ILRI graduate fellows and the need for trainings that continuously enhance the research capacity of fellows.

Through the graduate fellowship program, ILRI has over the years provided opportunities to thousands of young scientists and graduate fellows from National Agricultural Research Organizations (NARS), universities and other institutions in Africa and other parts of the world. These researchers carry out research-for-development (R4D) activities within ILRI projects, have access to ILRI’s cutting-edge research facilities and are mentored by ILRI scientists, while at the same time, the fellows contribute to ILRI’s research for better and more sustainable use of livestock.

The CapDev unit plays a leading role in the training and development of graduate fellows by carrying out training needs assessments, and designing and facilitating crosscutting training programs to continuously enhance the research skills of these fellows.

CapDev has developed a series of modular courses for graduate fellows in collaboration with ILRI’s research methods group, and communication team. These modules include trainings in conducting literature reviews, designing research studies, managing and analysing data, and a module on presentation skills that helps students in effectively sharing their research findings.

The ‘bite-sized’ trainings are shorter, use less printed material and are more memorable. On average, each session is delivered within 3-4 hours and 2 sessions are carried out every month followed by additional one-to-one mentoring and assignments.

A total of 8 such sessions were delivered between September and December 2013.

The benefits of the modular training approach include:

  • Training opportunities at the ILRI campus, which minimise absences from work and give graduate fellows flexibility in choosing courses.
  • Courses are performance-based and are tailored to the real needs of graduate fellows.
  • Use of ILRI staff capacities and internal expertise helps to better integrate theory and practice resulting in better learning. Those trained share their experiences in future modules.
  • The modules are designed creatively with highly interactive and participative sessions and are relatively easy to adapt to different training contexts.
  • Graduate fellows have the opportunity to network with others fellows in different research programs as well as with ILRI colleagues delivering these trainings.

‘When I came to ILRI as a graduate fellow in August 2011, we did not have regular interaction and learning together. It was more like a walk through the jungle called “research”. The modular trainings have improved interaction among fellows and our scientific skills. Bravo CapDev!’– Jerome Wendoh, MSc fellow with Animal Biosciences.

Looking ahead in 2014

‘In 2014, the CapDev unit together with the RMG group and other ILRI units, plans to build on the successes from the 2013 modular trainings. This will include identifying the gaps and training priorities for the year in consultation with fellows, research managers and ILRI mentors,’ said Joyce Maru, a capacity development officer at ILRI.

Future modules may blend modular training, e-learning opportunities, effective mentorship support, and evidence and assessment to further enrich the fellows’ learning experience at ILRI. The blended learning approach will differentiate learning styles and allow flexibility and convenience for fellows to choose when and how they want to learn.

Measuring impact 

The CapDev unit is also looking for ways of evaluating trainings that goes beyond knowing the numbers of those trained.

‘It’s not sufficient to know how many people were trained, how they liked it and what they learned; we want to know if they are applying what they’ve learnt, and the quality of the training and mentorship they receive’ says Maru. ‘Also, we want to know how ILRI projects are improved as a result.’

Towards this end, CapDev will implement the ILRI graduate fellowship monitoring and evaluation policy, which clarifies the rationale for graduate training at ILRI and describes how training outcomes will be assessed across various training programs.

For more information on ILRI graduate fellowships visit http://ilri.org/CapDev.

View a CapDev PowerPoint on ‘presentation skills for graduate fellows’:  http://www.slideshare.net/ILRI/presenting-with-impactpotx-33886558

This article was written by Joyce Maru, a capacity development officer at ILRI.

Filed under: Article, Capacity Strengthening, CapDev, East Africa, Kenya Tagged: Graduate fellowships, Joyce Maru, Modular trainings