Planet under pressure / Bits and pieces

This 6-minute animated film explains how we can feed the world by 2050; it was produced by CCAFS and first shown at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, Mar 2012.

In this last posting from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)  about the recent Planet Under Pressure (PUP) conference (London, 26-29 Mar 2012), we highlight a few of our favourite things.

Animated film on a ‘safe operating space’ for food security to 2050
The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change launched a short animation that illustrates key actions needed for a ‘safe operating space’ for food security in 2050. An integrated approach must balance how much food we produce, how we adapt to a changing climate and how much agriculture contributes to further climate change. The film offers a summary of steps needed to meet food needs and stabilize the climate. It is short (6 minutes) and very good. Watch it here: How to feed the world in 2050: actions in a changing climate, Mar 2012.

Report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change
Efforts to alleviate the worst effects of climate change cannot succeed without simultaneously addressing the crises in global agriculture and the food system and empowering the world’s most vulnerable populations. Many of these issues have commonly been ‘stovepiped’ into different scientific disciplines, economic sectors, policy processes and geographic regions. The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change was set up in 2011 to come up with an integrated approach for dealing with these urgent, globally interconnected challenges. Their final report and summary for policymakers, launched at PUP, offer concrete actions to transforming the food system to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

Intensifying agriculture within planetary boundaries
Deborah Bossio, a soil scientist who in Feb 2012 took up the position of research area leader of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT-TSBF), led a session on ‘Intensifying agriculture within planetary boundaries’. One of the panel speakers was Kate Brauman, one of the authors of a paper published in Nature last October, Solutions for a cultivated planet, led by Jon Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, and co-authored by many others.

‘We are adding 2 billion people to the world by 2050’, Brauman said, ‘by which time we’ll need to double food production. We need to do this in a sustainable way; we need to do this while keeping a world we’d like to live in. But agriculture’s environmental footprint is big: Agriculture uses 40 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, is responsible for 70 per cent of all water use, and generates about 35 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are warming our Earth, mostly deforestation.’

We have a three-part challenge’, Brauman said. ‘Feed  everyone today. Double food production by 2050. And do that in a sustainable way.’

The ‘Solutions for a cultivated planet’ paper offers a 5-part solution:
(1) Slow agricultural expansion: Most expansion will give us relatively small gains at very great environmental costs.
(2) Close yield gaps to increase agricultural productivity: Increase production through intensification where ag systems are already in place
(3) Improve resource efficiency of agriculture: Grow smarter by noting where there is excessive and insufficient nitrogen sources, water sources, etc., and get more bang for our buck.
(4) Close diet gaps: Only 60% of global production is directly consumable, with much going to animal feed, etc.
(5) Reduce food waste, whether stored on poor farms or thrown away in the refrigerators of the rich

‘There is no single way’, Brauman concluded. ‘We need to use all five of these strategies. It can’t be about organic vs commercial, but about both. We’ve only got one planet. We really have to do this right.’

Justin Gillis, in the New York Times Green Blog (Deep thinking about the future of food), points out what is special about Foley’s study: ‘The group finds, as others have before them, that the challenge of doubling global food production in coming decades can probably be met, albeit with considerable difficulty. The interesting thing to me about the analysis is that it doesn’t treat any of the problems confronting the food system as superior to the others—it treats the environmental problem, the supply problem and the equity problem as equally important, laying out a case that they all need to be tackled at once.’

Read an earlier post on this ILRI Clippings Blog about the ‘Solutions for a cultivated planet’ paper: A BIG conversation starts on ways to increase food supplies while protecting environments and eradicating hunger, 14 Oct 2011.

CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems
A CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems was launched at PUP. This multi-institutional program is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), recently named this year’s Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. The new program embodies a ten-year commitment to bring about a radical transformation in the way land, water and natural systems are managed. ILRI is one of its 11 CGIAR partners. The new research program is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to promote more joined-up-thinking on agricultural research for development at CGIAR, the world’s largest consortium of agricultural researchers. The program’s newly appointed director, Simon Cook, says that more effective, equitable and environmentally sensitive pricing of natural assets like water needs to be mainstreamed. And the fragmented ways in which river basins are managed—with different sectors, such as agriculture, industry, environment and mining, considered separately rather than as interrelated and interdependent—needs to be fixed. ‘A re-think is needed’, Cook says.

Biomas under pressure
ILRI scientist Diego Valbuena gave a handsome presentation on Biomass pressures in mixed farms: Implications for livelihoods and ecosystems services in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa at a ‘Food security’ session on the first day of PUP.  The work behind this presentation was conducted by members of the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Programme. If the planet is under pressure (and it is), the pressure on biomass might serve as its poster child. Most of the world’s small-scale farmers mix crop growing with livestock raising, with each activity supporting the other. One of the major synergies exemplified by kind of integrated farming is the use of crop residues—the leaves, stalks and other remains of crops after their grain or legumes have been harvested—for feeding livestock as well as for conserving soil nutrients (through mulching), for fuel and for construction. As agricultural systems intensify, the pressures on the biomass available increase. This research is identifying optimal ways of using crop residues in different regions and circumstances.

And the one that got away
One session that never happened was on ‘Livestock and global change: A dialogue on key pressures and potential solutions’. To have been led by systems analysts Mario Herrero, of ILRI, and Philip Thornton, of ILRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), and to have included on the panel ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace and ILRI partner Tara Garnett, who leads the Food Climate Research Network at the University of Surrey, this session was cancelled due to an emergency. The session was sorely missed since there was a dearth of discussion at PUP on livestock issues, which  these scientists and others believe need to have a higher profile at such events. What the session would have covered:

Due to the magnitude of the livestock sector, the pressures it exerts on the world’s natural resources, and the multiple socio-economic benefits it provides, this session will span across many subject areas of interest (food security, poverty reduction, vulnerability, greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, competition for biomass, land, water, and others). The topic is central to developing-country agendas, which often have large livestock sectors and people depending on them.’

Read previous about the Planet Under Pressure conference on the ILRI News Blog
Planet under pressure / Livestock under the radar, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / A numbers game–but which numbers are the numbers that matter?, 26 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Food security policy brief, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / ‘Get out of the nerd loop’–NYT environmental reporter, 27 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Agriculture (finally) at the global change table, 28 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Navigating the Anthropocene, 29 Mar 2012.

Planet under pressure / Where’s the beef? 9 Apr 2012.

 

ILRI adopts strategy and plan to mainstream approaches for gender equity in livestock development

This month, management of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) adopted a ‘Strategy and plan of action to mainstream gender in ILRI’.

The document was developed by a task force led by Jemimah Njuki, leader of ILRI’s Poverty, Gender and Impact team.

This strategy and action plan define the role that ILRI will play to stimulate and facilitate efforts, both in-house and with partners, to take advantage of opportunities to promote gender equality and equity within the livestock subsector and the agriculture sector in general.

It has three main objectives:

  1. To promote equality of opportunity and outcomes between women and men in the livestock subsector at local, national, regional and global levels;
  2. To increase the quality, efficiency and impacts of ILRI’s work in livestock development;
  3. To ensure that equality, equity and rights are respected across gender, that there is good gender representation in ILRI staffing and decision-making positions and that there is active and balanced participation by both women and men in ILRI’s work.

The strategy and action plan to mainstream gender in ILRI embodies ILRI’s strong commitment to efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment—Jimmy Smith, ILRI director general

The action plan is designed to contribute to the ongoing development of a new strategy for ILRI. To make it operational, Jimmy Smith called on ILRI staff to ‘work together to translate this commitment into actions that make a difference on the ground’.

The finalization of the strategy is one of the last actions in ILRI by Jemimah Njuki, who departs the institute at the end of March 2012. Her energy and commitment across ILRI will be missed. Read more about her work, and that of her team, on the ‘agrigender blog‘.

Download the strategy and action plan

Raising incomes in India through better markets for goat and sheep meat, leather and wool

 The Goat Herd, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1862 (source: Wikipaintings.org).

This business of goats—
Sometimes it flourishes,
Sometimes it yields only a handful of chickpeas,
And sometimes even that is denied.

An interesting new report on Small Ruminant Rearing: Product Markets, Opportunities and Constraints makes a strong argument for enhancing the value chains of India’s meat, leather and wool industries to reduce poverty levels among the country’s many sheep and goat rearers, who make up 15% of all rural households in the country and most of whom (70%) are small and marginal farmers and landless labourers.

The report was published in Dec 2011 by the South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme, a joint initiative of India’s National Dairy Development Programme (NDDB) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The report was developed by Varsha Mehta, a consultant working with this South Asia livestock program, who spent six months (Nov 2010–Apr 2011) gathering information in extensive field visits and discussions with practitioners and communities rearing small ruminants in various states of the country.

Some the key findings, appearing in report’s the executive summary, are summarized below.

Sheep and goat ownership
With 15% of the world’s goat population and 6% of its sheep, India is among the highest livestock holding countries in the world. As of 2009, its estimated sheep and goat population was 191.7 million, comprising 10% of the world total.

Most of India’s goats (70%) are found in just 7 of the country’s 28 states (West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh) and 72% of the sheep population is concentrated in just 4 states (Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu).

Although total numbers of such small stock have been rising in the country, average numbers per household have been falling, by about 25%—from 85 to 64 per 100 households—in the 11 years between 1991/2 and 2002/3.

The ownership and distribution of small ruminants in the country appears to be more equitable than that of land.

Policy issues and recommendations
Livestock rearing in the country has been primarily for livelihood security and not for commercial purposes, with ownership being more evenly distributed vis-à-vis land and other resources; animals are a hedge and insurance against natural calamities, droughts, etc., and animal husbandry is frequently one of the many occupations in a household’s livelihood strategy.

However, the commercialization of livestock is on the rise as a result of market developments and fiscal incentives, and an increasing demand for animal protein in the consumer market. A gradual shift is occurring towards intensively managed ram lamb/sheep units, particularly in the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which is being led and/or facilitated by animal health professionals, state veterinary departments and financial institutions.

India’s single-minded pursuit of agricultural enhancement at all costs has harmed its animal husbandry. Government-planned and -sponsored schemes for intensifying agricultural production systems through land development and irrigation have led to a rapid loss of lands available for grazing sheep and goats, declining land and soil productivity, greater reliance on chemical fertilizers and higher costs of agriculture inputs. With the loss of grazing lands, flock sizes have decreased, with, for example, the average flock size in the ‘shepherd belt’ of Rajasthan declining from 200–300 to 60–70 sheep over a period of 10 years. The numbers of keepers of small stock have also declined, with many former shepherds and goat rearers now working as daily wage labourers.

Another threat to India’s small stock keepers are high levels of livestock diseases and deaths due to state veterinary health services and facilities unable to meet the veterinary demands of local and migrant graziers, breeders, rearers and shepherds.

Small ruminant meat
Prioritize the meat value chain
With an estimated 25,000 unauthorized slaughter locations and 4,000 registered slaughterhouses, India’s meat trade is highly unorganized and largely unregulated, having remained a low priority sector until the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007–12), when incentives were provided to industries to boost investment for modernization, value addition and infrastructure development.

The many entities responsible for licensing, regulating and controlling quality in the meat processing and export sectors lead to inefficiencies, and the mechanisms in place are largely ineffectual and the institutions involved largely under-resourced.

Although India’s meat market is predominantly a ‘wet market’ (dealing in live animals), knowledge of, and adherence to, food safety standards and regulations are greatly lacking, which poses the threat of infectious and other diseases erupting among livestock populations and some of them (zooneses) being transmitted between livestock and people.

Create more equitable livestock markets
India’s small ruminant markets favour brokers and other intermediaries to the disadvantage of consumers, rearers and sellers of livestock by-products.

A large part of the consumer’s costs are due to inefficient slaughter operations and markets and high transportation costs. Inefficient use of small ruminant by-products means the rearers get poor prices for their animals.

New players face barriers in entering the market and robust agents’ networks and strong resistance to government attempts to introduce change hamper the modernization or relocation of abattoirs.

Create value addition along the value chain
The non-standardized, unregulated and ad hoc transactions typical of India’s small ruminant trade lead to unfair practices. For example, animals are sold purely on the basis of a visual estimation of their weight, age and appearance, and female animals get lower prices than males in meat markets, even though no such distinction is made in the final price of meat sold in retail outlets. And although sheep fetch a lower price than goats, sheep meat is frequently passed off as goat meat in New Delhi.

With India’s small ruminant market remaining predominantly a wet market, given the preference of the Indian consumer for fresh meat over frozen or processed meat, little value addition takes place along the chain from producer to consumer although the price of the commodity rises at every level.

Fully utilize ruminant by-products
Whereas the blood, head, legs and offals of slaughtered sheep and goats are often sold near slaughterhouses in terminal markets and at village butchers’ shops, full potential of the by-products’ (skin, casings, bones, blood and other waste) is not realized in the country.

Bring the market closer to the production base
By bringing the market closer to the production base, it would be possible to address many problems that plague efficient operations in the meat industry. The terminal markets in all cities are constrained on account of space and municipal requirements for waste disposal. Both these issues could be addressed at the district level through appropriate site selection, long-term planning, and establishment of effluent treatment plants. District-level livestock trade centres would also be more accessible to producers, and lower the costs of transporting live animals, which are often transported in poor conditions across long distances and suffer poor lairing at terminal markets before their slaughter.

Small ruminant leather
Support smallholder production and collection of leather for a fast-growing industrial sector
While most of the leather industry’s units are small and medium enterprises, with 60–65% of the production coming from small/cottage sectors, the industrial structure, which till now has been mostly unorganized and decentralized, is gearing up fast in response to international market demand and a changing policy environment.

The gains that the leather industry has made over the years, due to favourable government policies and growth in international markets, have not trickled down to the players operating at lower levels in the leather value chain. And developments in the processing and manufacturing sectors are not accompanied by corresponding developments in raw material production and collection methods, which continue to be highly scattered and unorganized.

Enhance the supply of raw leather
Too little raw material, and material of poor quality, due to inappropriate methods of procurement of raw hides and skins, and their flaying and curing, are hurting India’s leather sector.

Losses from putrefaction and low-quality raw material could be addressed through worker collectives established close to the source of production, which could reduce the time lag between removal of skin and its (temporary) curing for preservation. Apart from the cost of inputs for treatment (salt) and storage (warehouse), the only other costs would be those of labour and the initial investment in organizing and establishing the collective. This small intervention in the leather value chain could go a long way in resolving higher end problems, as well as providing employment for many poor people.

Provide human resources for labour- and skill-intensive operations
Operations in leather processing and finishing are labour-intensive except in the initial stages, with the costs of labour rising as the product moves along the value chain. In many attempts to promote its leather industry, India has focussed on manufacturing and finished goods to the exclusion of all other aspects, such as procuring hides and skins and/or improving slaughterhouse practices, both of which could add significantly to the quality and availability of raw material.

Trained human resources are in short supply.

Small ruminant wool
Protect grazing lands
The entire production system that supports India’s wool industry is crippled by a loss of grazing lands and reduced flock sizes. In Himachal Pradesh, graziers since the British times have been issued permits for grazing their herds, with migratory routes and numbers specified in the permit issued by the Forest Department. A specified fee per animal is charged per season. Over the years, there has been a restriction on the issuance of new permits, and the common practice now is for herds to be taken for migration by (existing) permit-holders on a contractual basis. Grazing grounds/pastures have also shrunk and degraded with the spread of weeds, which can also cause of high mortality, particularly in younger livestock.

Support local wool markets
Since changes in India’s import policies and licenses took effect, the markets have been flooded with products made of imported wool. The rising costs incurred by shepherds in rearing sheep and shearing their wool are not matched by a corresponding rise in returns from wool. Loss of markets for traditionally valued products have caused a loss in demand for local wool. A revival of the local wool markets is possible only through revival of Khadi institutions, as well as significant and sustained investments in R&D of products made out of local wool.

Improve sheep breeds
Only a small proportion of sheep (10–15%) have been crossbred. State-led initiatives for breed improvement have focused on the production of finer quality wool through crossing indigenous breeds with imported breeds such as the Merino and Rambouillet. The crossbreeding programs face two main problems: crossbred sheep have higher mortality levels than native sheep because they are unable to withstand the nutritional stress and difficult terrain/conditions; and the crossbreeding program has not yet led to the production of significant quantities of superior wools. Some scientists say there is a lack of high-quality germplasm available for improving wool quality and yield.

Read the whole report:  Small Ruminant Rearing: Product Markets, Opportunities and Constraints, South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme, Dec 2011.

Notes
A year-old project on ‘Small ruminant value chains as platforms for reducing poverty and increasing food security in the dryland areas of India and Mozambique’, known as ‘imGoats’ for short, seeks to investigate how best goat value chains can be used to increase food security and reduce poverty among smallholders in India and Mozambique. The main target groups are poor goat keepers, especially women, and other marginalized groups, such as scheduled castes and tribes in India, households with members living with HIV/AIDS and female-headed households in Mozambique. The project is led by researchers from the Market, Gender and Livelihoods Theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in collaboration with the BAIF Development Research Foundation in India and CARE International, Mozambique. It is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The goal of the imGoats Project is to increase incomes and food security in a sustainable manner by enhancing small ruminant value chains in the two countries. The project proposes to transform goat production and marketing from the current ad hoc, risky, informal activity to a sound and profitable enterprise and model that taps into a growing market, largely controlled by and benefiting women and other disadvantaged and vulnerable groups while preserving the natural resource base.

The project established a strategic advisory committee at the national level in each of the project countries. In India, the South Asia Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Programme (SAPPLPP) is one of seven agencies represented on this committee; the others are the Animal Husbandry Departments of Governments of India, Rajasthan and Jharkhand; IFAD; BAIF; and ILRI. The first national advisory committee meeting of the imGoats project in India was held on the 17 Aug 2011 in New Delhi; it meets every six months, with its next meeting scheduled for 10–11 Feb 2012, in Udaipur and Jhadol.

For more information, visit ILRI’s imGoats Blog.

New study says livestock production provides Kenya with 43% of agricultural GDP

Collecting milk in Kenya's informal market

Collecting milk in Kenya’s informal market (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

Do estimates of the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) of African nations really underestimate the value of the contribution from the livestock sector, as livestock specialists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and elsewhere frequently complain? In Kenya and Ethiopia, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.

A new study by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Livestock Policy Initiative (LPI), which worked with national partners, concludes that livestock’s contribution to Kenya’s agricultural GDP is a whopping two and a half times larger than the official estimate for 2009. An earlier IGAD study concluded that livestock’s contribution to Ethiopia’s agricultural GDP has been even more dramatically under-reported; livestock’s contribution is now being estimated at three and a half times larger than that of the last official estimate available.

In Kenya, ‘This increase of 150% over official estimates means that the livestock contribution to agricultural GDP is only slightly less than that from arable agriculture, i.e. 320 billion Kenyan shillings for livestock (about $4.21 billion US dollars in 2009) versus 399 billion Kenyan shillings for crops and horticulture (in 2009 roughly $5.25 billion US dollars). . . .

‘According to the revised estimates, milk is Kenya’s most economically important livestock product, providing a little less than three quarters of the total gross value of livestock’s contribution to the agricultural sector. In terms of its contribution to agricultural GDP, milk is about four times more important than meat.

‘Cattle are Kenya’s most important source of red meat, supplying by value about 80% of the nation’s ruminant offtake for slaughter. More than 80% of the beef consumed in Kenya is produced by pastoralists, either domestically or in neighbouring countries and then imported on the hoof, often unofficially.’

In addition, the broad range of benefits rural food producers derive from livestock keeping—including manure for fertilizing crop field, traction for pulling ploughs, and serving as a means of savings and credit and insurance—represent about 11% of the value of the livestock contribution to GDP in Kenya and more than 50% in Ethiopia.

‘The conclusion to be drawn from this study is that Kenya’s livestock are economically much more important than hitherto believed; in fact, only marginally less than crops and horticulture combined. Agriculture and forestry are by far Kenya’s most important economic sector in terms of domestic production and it would now appear that livestock provide about 43% of the output from this sector. . . .’

We link here to the whole policy brief from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Livestock Policy Initiative (LPI – IGAD LPI website). The brief was based on working paper by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and IGAD: The Contribution of Livestock to the Kenyan Economy, No. 03-2011, by Roy Behnke and David Muthami.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the earlier IGAD LPI working papers on Ethiopia (also a policy brief).

Hunger in the Horn: Risk management key to coping with drought

Cover of ILRI report on impacts of ALRMPII

The cover of a 2011 ILRI report that evaluated a long-term drought management project–the Arid Lands Resource Management Project–in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI).

The current drought in the Horn of Africa is once more stressing the urgent need to invest in agricultural development in the region. Adopting new approaches for drylands agriculture, increasing support for agricultural research and better cooperation between partners will help farmers and herders in these areas to cope with increasingly harsh climates and improve their food production.

A 2011 report of an evaluation of a long-term drought management initiative in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) indicates that long-term interventions in Africa’s drylands can lower the levels of vulnerability to drought and reduce the need for food aid. Such initiatives help speed emergency responses, improve food security, empower locals to influence policies and promote often-neglected drylands issues at national levels.

This review is of the second phase of a project known as ‘Impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII).’ It was carried out by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to assess the project’s impact on livelihoods and vulnerability in 10 arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya. The ALRMPII is a community-based drought management initiative that was implemented by the Government of Kenya with support from the World Bank in 28 districts.

The first phase of this project concentrated on improving drought management, marketing, infrastructure and community development in 10 of Kenya’s arid districts over seven years (1996–2003). The project increased the response capacity of herders during the 1999 and 2001 droughts, implemented over 1000 micro projects that benefited over 180,000 people, created grazing reserves for pastoralists in 24 areas and supported initiatives to reduce land degradation. Following these successes, the project’s second phase or ALRMPII, started and was expanded to include semi-arid regions of the country with the aim of enhancing food security, increasing access to basic services, and reducing livelihood vulnerability in 28 drought-prone ASAL districts. This second phase of the project was carried out between 2003 and 2010.

ILRI’s evaluation of ALRMPII reviewed activities in Garissa, Kajiado, Laikipia, Mandera, Marsabit, Mwingi, Narok, Nyeri, Tharaka and Turkana districts using household surveys, focus group discussions and interviews with relief and development agencies in the districts as well as people involved in policy processes in Nairobi.

The review assessed the project’s key performance indicators, which were:

  • Decreasing the number of people needing free food aid
  • Reducing emergency response times
  • Improving child nutrition
  • Increasing access to water, health, education and other social services
  • Strengthening local people’s contribution to policymaking

The review found that in arid areas, herders felt it ‘difficult to abandon pastoralism,’ which was the only suitable form of livelihood in these areas. In the semi-arid districts, on the other hand, communities were more likely to be settled because mixed crop-livestock farming was allowing them to diversify their livelihoods. As a result, many households in the semi-arid districts were increasingly relying on agriculture, and a growing cash economy enabled some herders to hire labour to manage their animals.

The report, by ILRI’s Ayago Wambile and Nancy Johnson, interestingly found that while according to local indicators long-term interventions were effectively decreasing livestock losses in arid districts, food aid needs in those districts were increasing. The authors conjectured that increasing need for food aid could have resulted from prolonged dry seasons, which make it harder for households to re-build their herds and from increases in resource-based conflict.

The report points out that although the arid areas had shown an increased demand for food aid, investment from Government through this project was lowering these needs. In the arid districts, ‘ALRMPII expenditure is negatively and significantly associated with the percent of people needing food aid,’ which means that as expenditure—a proxy for the intensity of project activity—increased the number of people needing aid declined.

Also, the review suggests, the project bulletin had ‘become the most useful and most used source of early warning information for response agencies.’ Users of the bulletin also felt emergency responses were faster, better coordinated, and more appropriate, a claim that was supported by data on response times. The review shows that ALRMPII appears to have improved child nutrition and provided a ‘nutritional safety net’ in participating communities. Further, the project enabled local people to participate in policymaking. Key stakeholders from these regions were invited to take part in ASALs policymaking processes where they ‘contributed evidence and experience.’ (However, while access to social services did increase in the ALRMP study communities, this cannot be attributed to the project since it also increased in control communities).

Even though the changes observed in these areas during the review may not all have resulted from ALRMPII–mobile phone coverage, rapid responses by relief agencies and international funding for emergency responses all increased during this period–this review found that the project did make a difference. But even with the successes of ALRMPII, challenges such as conflict are still a threat to livelihoods in much of the region.  Regarding repeated environmental shocks on households, the review recommends focusing ‘on interventions that go beyond current drought to address issues such as conflict or dependency.’

Finally, it recommends that future ALMPII reviews be expanded to cover impacts of the project on the environment, capacity building, community empowerment and overall risk management coordination in these regions.

Download the complete report: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/handle/10568/3416/9291462578_content.pdf?sequence=1

Best ways to manage responses to recurring drought in Kenya’s drylands

cattle carcass_Kitengela_NNP_border_1

The carcass of a cow that died of starvation in the Kitengela rangelands, near Nairobi National Park, in the great drought of 2009 (photo on Flickr by Jeff Haskins).

Those working to mitigate the impacts of the current drought in the Horn of Africa and to help prevent severe hunger and starvation from occurring here in future will profit from a close reading of a 2010 report by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). This report—An Assessment of the Response to the 2008–2009 Drought in Kenya: A Report commissioned by the European Delegation to the Republic of Kenya—reviews the effectiveness of livestock-based drought response interventions during Kenya’s devastating 2008–2009 drought and suggests ways to improve the current drought management system and to incorporate climate change adaptation strategies into the country’s drought management policies.

Major findings of the report

The overriding importance of mobility
Without a single exception, all pastoralist groups interviewed consider mobility and access to natural resources as the most potent mechanism for coping with drought. Ironically, this is also the activity that is increasingly the most impeded. Interventions that facilitate and/or maintain critical migratory movement and/or allow access to unused grazing areas will continue to serve as the most powerful way to mitigate livestock losses during a drought. Often the funds required to achieve this are minimal compared to other interventions and as such it is also the most cost-effective intervention. Interventions targeting the removal of restrictions to mobility and access should be considered as prime activities during preparedness.

The importance of functioning livestock markets
Participants of a one-day workshop on commercial destocking in Marsabit District said that a successful commercial de-stocking intervention is next to impossible if the district does not already have a functioning, fully fledged, dynamic livestock trade as an ongoing activity during ‘normal’ times. ‘Emergency’ commercial de-stocking, they said, should in that case not be necessary because the commercial sector, if functioning, should be capable to up-scale its activity if and when there appeared a drought-related market surplus of stock.

Drought responses are falling behind
Although the drought responses presented here appear to be more effective and timely than responses to earlier droughts, these recent responses are not keeping up with an ongoing decline in many pastoral households in livestock assets and coping capacities. Furthermore, poor governance, lack of political will and mismanagement of funds plague efforts to move from relief responses to longer term development interventions. And conflicts over land, closely linked to a rapid population growth in Kenya, remain largely unresolved, with indications that these conflicts are only increasing and severely restricting pastoral mobility.

Lack of involvement of local communities
Local communities were not involved in the design and implementation of most interventions to help them cope with the drought. The single community to be consulted was in Laikipia, and that consultation was restricted to just one topic: livestock off-take. A Kajiado Naserian community that wanted support with finding alternative livelihoods so that it could stop relying on relief food actually found a goat distribution project that involved the community to be more successful than any relief interventions. Another community, in Isiolo’s Merti location, prefers a viable livestock market to any government-funded livestock off-take program and sees investments in pasture management as one way to solve the feed problems during drought.

Lessons learned
The good news
Increased semi-permanent presence of key non-governmental organizations in critical areas that are able to encompass a realistic drought management cycle approach has substantially improved information and speed of response. This, in combination with improved collaboration between agencies, together with improved coordination has at face value improved both the quality and timeliness of responses to droughts. The continued implementation of a basket of suitable preparedness activities remains the most cost-effective approach to reduce the impact of shocks. Activities such as those implemented by a regional ‘Drought Preparedness’ program of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and a project on ‘Enhanced Livelihoods in the Mandera Triangle’ funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are beginning to show a marked impact.

The bad news
But this good news is largely negated by other factors, such as reduced line ministry capacity, administrative/institutional changes such as the relentless creation of new districts, and conflicts. In some arid districts and in overall humanitarian terms, drought emergencies are no longer caused solely by prolonged periods of rainfall deficit; rather, such emergencies are increasingly provoked by many factors acting in concert, with the most important contributing factor being reduced access to high-potential grazing lands. This situation is itself caused, and heavily exacerbated, by a relentlessly increasing demographic pressure that is creating whole populations with scarce access to any animal resources at all. These dryland communities are left highly vulnerable to shocks.

Other major findings

The problems underlying dryland livestock-based livelihoods cannot be solved by relief interventions alone; their solutions require long-term research and development strategies and programs that build on and strengthen rather than undermine local institution, livelihood strategies and coping strategies.

Population growth and the continued and unplanned creation of settlements without access to permanent water continue to put a huge burden on humanitarian sources during a drought.

Communities found corruption and mismanagement to be bigger problems than ineffective interventions.

A Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS, 2009) handbook, summarizing livestock-specific interventions, is an excellent toolkit supporting relief practitioners, but much remains to be improved regarding the appropriate timing of such interventions.

The lack of a coordinated approach in, and access to, reliable livestock statistics, both numerical and distribution wise, remains a huge constraint in the overall management of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands.

To prevent delays in the release of emergency funds, drought contingency plans should be regularly updated and contain agreed-upon quantitative triggers for the release of funds to implement interventions and creation of a sufficiently endowed national drought contingency fund deserves the highest priority.

About the report
In late 2009, at the conclusion of Kenya’s 2008–2009 drought, the European Union delegation funded this review of responses to the drought to help Kenya improve its drought management system by recommending more appropriate, effective and timely livestock-based interventions. The report begins by characterizing the severity of the two-year drought and assessing how well its impacts were forecasted. It then reviews 474 livestock-based interventions carried out during the 2008–2009 drought in six arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya. It recommends which livestock-related interventions to implement during drought (including specific advice on commercial destocking) and provides a checklist of advised livestock-based interventions for different scenarios. It offers guidelines for effective monitoring and evaluation. And it identifies where the drought response intervention cycle is hampered by policy constraints and how these might be addressed.

About drought in Kenya
Drought is the prime recurrent natural disaster in Kenya. It affects 10 million, mostly livestock-dependent, people in the country’s arid and semi-arid lands; remarkably, these non-arable lands cover more than 80 per cent of the country’s land mass. While reducing the country’s economic performance, recurring droughts particularly erode the assets of the poor, who herd cattle, camels, sheep, goats over the more marginal drylands. This regular erosion of animal assets is undermining the livelihoods of Kenya’s pastoral herding communities, provoking many households into a downward spiral of chronic hunger and severe poverty.

About Kenya’s drought management system
Since 1996, the Office of the President in Kenya, supported by the World Bank, has been implementing an Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP) in the country’s drought-prone and marginalized communities. The ALRMP, further supported by the European Union, funded a Drought Management Initiative and consolidated a national drought management system with structures at the national (Kenya Food Security Meeting, Kenya Food Security Steering Group), district (District Steering Group) and community levels. This drought management system includes policies and strategies, an early warning system, a funded contingency plan and an overall drought coordination and response structure. The main stakeholders involved, in addition to the Government of Kenya and its line ministries, are various development partners and non-governmental organizations. The most far-reaching changes to Kenya’s drought management system since its inception are now under way and include major institutional changes through the creation of a Drought Management Authority and a National Drought Contingency Fund.

About the drought of 2008–2009
The results of this study confirm that the 2008–2009 drought was extreme not only in meteorological and rangeland production terms, but also in terms of its devastating impacts on livestock resources. It is estimated that some 57 per cent of cattle and 65 per cent of sheep, for example, perished in Samburu Central District in 2009; in Laikipia North District, it is reported that 64 per cent of the cattle and 62 per cent of the sheep died over the 2008–2009 period. (Note that these estimates, being mostly subjective, give more of an impression than a reliable estimate of the impacts of the drought on Kenya’s livestock populations.)

What’s in this report?
Chapter 3 provides a general characterization of Kenya’s 2008/2009 drought. Chapter 4, assesses the drought responses in six arid and semi-arid districts of Kenya (Kajiado, Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, Turkana and Marsabit), incorporating feedback from a variety of stakeholders at district and national levels. Chapter 5 provides a checklist for drought-response scenarios; Chapter 6, guidelines for monitoring and evaluating responses to drought; and Chapter 7, a plan for commercial destocking in one of these districts. Chapter 8 summarizes climate change forecasts for Kenya and assesses the need for incorporating climate change adaptation policies into the country’s drought management strategies. Chapter 9 discusses the implications of the findings and makes recommendations. Chapter 10 distils lessons learned. This report is similar to an evaluation of responses to the 2000/2001 drought in Kenya (by Y Aklilu and M Wekesa) and reviews to what extent their recommendations were effectively implemented.

The report’s findings in a nutshell
The number of livestock interventions made increased dramatically between the 2000/2001 and 2008/2009 droughts. The total expenditure was also greater in 2008/2009 (USD4.6 million for 6 districts) than in 2000/20001 (USD4 million in 10 districts). ALRMP and the Kenya Government were the main funders of the efforts. Unfortunately, most livestock-related interventions began very late, in early to mid 2009, well past the optimal timing closer to the onset of the drought, in mid-2008. The ALRMP interventions started earliest, reportedly because it was the only organization with funds readily available through its Drought Contingency mode, when the drought became apparent to all. A total of more than 1.5 million people benefited directly from the interventions made in 2008/2009. The cost per individual reached was Kshs3,362, ranging from Kshs163 for water trucking to Kshs8,652 for emergency destocking. An estimated 15,873 tropical livestock units were purchased as part of emergency off-take. Over 5.7 million animals were reached by health interventions between July 2008 and December 2009. Over 1.5 million people were reached by interventions, 413,802 with traditional livestock interventions (destocking, animal health and feeds).

Practical lessons learned

Lesson 1
The most effective interventions were those that facilitated access to under-utilized grazing and watering resources. Those districts in Kenya with little new access to these natural resources are the most vulnerable.

Lesson 2
So-called ‘commercial de-stocking’ remains the least cost-effective drought intervention in Kenya. Long distances to markets, poor timing of interventions and lack of economies of scale all play important roles in making this kind of de-stocking unviable. But more than anything else, lack of an existing dynamic marketing system virtually precludes a commercial de-stocking operation from being cost-effective.

Lesson 3
‘Livestock-fodder-aid’ comes a close second in terms of poor cost-effectiveness. Shipping substantial quantities of bulky commodities such as hay to remote locations is extremely costly and moreover has had little if any measurable impact.

Lesson 4
Slaughter off-take, preferably carried out on the spot, with the meat distributed rapidly to needy families, is a popular intervention with beneficiaries and can provide substantial benefits. Those that sell a live animal often benefit also from the distribution of its meat. And the availability of this high-protein food can benefit household nutrition while allowing the selling households to maintain a little purchasing power a little longer.

More specific findings

The number of livestock-related interventions and the funding associated with these both increased considerably over the interventions carried out during the last drought in Kenya, in 2000/2001.

Once established, risk management systems tend to become static, but effective risk-management systems need to be adaptive and to build in mechanisms for people to ‘learn’.

Few interventions were made by mid-2008, when the drought was already apparent. Early interventions are preferable as they are more effective. Yet 63 per cent of all interventions, and all destocking programs, were conducted after June 2009, when the drought was at its peak.

Centrally managed interventions from Nairobi, such as the provision of fodder and the Ministry of Livestock Development-funded market off-take through the Kenya Meat Commission, had little impact and would have been many times more effective if funds had been made available through Drought Management Structures. (Considerable harm was done when publicized sales of stock never materialized, with large numbers of the animals herded to specified collection points suffering horribly and dying for lack of water and fodder.)

Unmanaged resource-related conflicts among ethnic groups were reported to be a major constraint to an equitable use of the diminishing natural resource base.

Bringing in water with tankers, maintaining and developing boreholes and destocking by slaughter in the affected areas were generally considered to be the most effective interventions. Most ‘other water’ and animal feeding interventions were considered ineffective.

Being more effective is not simply a question of spending more money; significant gains can be made by improving the way current resources are spent. (Across all types of interventions, no significant relationship was found between the effectiveness of a given intervention and its cost per individual reached.)

The problems of many unsuccessful interventions, such as animal feed and health, were due largely to inefficiency of implementation and/or poor timing.

A third more animals were moved in 2008/2009 than in 2000/2001. As disease killed many of the animals that migrated, animal health interventions should be included in future migration strategies.

Hay provisioning, which when well done might be an appropriate intervention, was generally too late and too little to have any significant impact on supporting animal herds through the drought.

Apart from Turkana and Samburu districts, no information on livestock marketing was disseminated or off-take exercises publicized, resulting in late off-takes and a greater expenditure of resources for off-take during the emergency stage than during the alert/alarm stage.

Bulletins put out by EWS (Early Warning Systems) provide overly generalized information, with no specific livestock focus, making the information inappropriate for livestock interventions. The information also often appears late, is too generic for district-specific interventions, and defines no thresholds for the release of contingency funds.

A lack of publicly available near-real-time and historic rainfall data hampered the real time analysis of rainfall anomalies. From a timeliness perspective, rainfall data is the most appropriate source of information for early warning, as it allows the longest response time to scale up relief operations. A number of organizational issues in the hands of government could improve this situation.

Analysis of monthly vegetation greenness anomalies does not appropriately reveal rangeland drought conditions relevant for livestock, as livestock manages to cope with shorter periods of reduced forage availability. A twelve-month running average of NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) detected historic droughts much more precisely, indicating the usefulness of running average techniques for rangeland early warning purposes.

Satellite imagery allows near real time to screen opportunities for migration and identify for remedial conflict resolution in areas of high insecurity.

The reporting on livestock body condition, milk production and productivity proved to be inconsistent across districts, frequently incomplete and with units of measurement unspecified, indicating the need to harmonize the collection of livestock statistics.

Read ILRI’s whole report: An assessment of the response to the 2008–2009 drought in Kenya: A report to the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kenya, 2010, by Lammert Zwaagstra, Zahra Sharif, Ayago Wambile, Jan de Leeuw, Mohamed Said, Nancy Johnson, Jemimah Njuki, Polly Ericksen and Mario Herrero.

* * *

Read an earlier ILRI News blog on this report: Livestock-based research recommendations for better managing drought in Kenya, 18 Jul 2011.

Three other recent ILRI research reports, published since that above, also assess the effectiveness of past drought interventions in Kenya’s northern drylands and offer tools for better management of the region’s drought cycles.

(1) ILRI research charts ways to better livestock-related drought interventions in Kenya’s drylands. ILRI Policy Brief (this is a distillation of recommendations in the report above), Jul 2011, by Jan de Leeuw, Polly Ericksen, Jane Gitau, Lammert Zwaagstra and Susan MacMillan

(2) The impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII) on livelihoods and vulnerability in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya. ILRI Research Report 25, 2011, edited by Nancy Johnson and Ayago Wambile.

This study assesses the impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII), a community-based drought management initiative implemented in 28 arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya from 2003 to 2010 to improve the effectiveness of emergency drought response while at the same time reducing vulnerability, empowering local communities, and raising the profile of ASALs in national policies and institutions.

(3) Livestock drought management tool. Final report for a project submitted by ILRI to the FAO Sub-Regional Emergency and Rehabilitation Officer for East and Central Africa, 10 Dec 2010, by Polly Ericksen, Jan de Leeuw and Carlos Quiros.

In August 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sub-Regional Emergency Office for Eastern and Central Africa contracted ILRI to develop a prototype livestock drought management decision support tool for use by a range of emergency and relief planners and practitioners throughout the region. The tool, which is still conceptual rather than operational, links the concepts of ‘drought cycle management’ with best practice in livestock-related interventions throughout all phases of a drought, from normal through the alert and emergency stages to recovery. The tool uses data to indicate the severity of the drought (hazard) and the ability of livestock to survive the drought (sensitivity). The hazard data has currently been parameterized for Kenya, but can be used in any countries of East and Central Africa. The tool still lacks good-quality data for sensitivity and requires pilot testing in a few local areas before it can be rolled out.

Predicted impacts of climate change on Kenya: Definitely hotter–expect less productive cropping, more livestock herding

Links between droughts and GDP growth in Kenya, 1975-1995

Why climate change matters in Kenya: This figure shows the close relationship between drought events and GDP growth in Kenya over two decades (figure by IFPRI 2006).

As a prolonged drought bites harder in northern Kenya and other regions of the Horn of Africa, it may be useful to review a report on a ‘Kenya Smallholder Climate Change Adaptation’ project, published in October 2010, which gives an overview of Kenya’s climate variability and change and the impacts of both on the country’s agriculture.

The project was conducted by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute and funded by the World Bank and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

ILRI agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero is the lead author of a note on the project, some of the main findings of which are summarized below.

  • With agriculture accounting for about 26 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 75 percent of its jobs, the Kenyan economy is highly sensitive to variations in rainfall.
  • Arid and semi-arid areas, which comprise 80 per cent of Kenya’s total land area, are prone to floods despite their low levels of rainfall (between 300 and 500 millimeters annually).
  • Kenya experiences major droughts every decade and minor ones every three to four years.
  • The negative effects of these droughts are spreading among the increasingly dense population and fragile arid and semi-arid lands.
  • Intensification and transition to mixed agro-pastoralist systems are increasingly marginalizing Kenya’s nomadic and pastoralist systems.
  • Rainfed agriculture is, and will remain, the dominant source of staple food production and the livelihood foundation of most of the rural poor in Kenya.
  • We need to better understand and cope with Kenya’s existing climate variability.
  • We need to plan for future climate variability on this continent: Climate model simulations under a range of possible greenhouse gas emission scenarios suggest that the median temperature increase for Africa is 3–4°C by the end of the 21st century, which is roughly 1.5 times the global mean response.

Kenya temperature on the rise

Rising monthly means of temperatures in Kenya from 1907 to 1998 in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem (graphic by ILRI’s Joseph Ogutu, 2001).

  • Predictions about future levels of precipitation in Kenya are complicated both because precipitation in the country is highly variable across space and time and because we have few data available for analysis, but some total annual precipitation projections for Kenya suggest increases by about 0.2 to 0.4 per cent per year.
  • Although the projected increases in rainfall might appear to be good news for Kenya’s arid and semi-arid districts, increased evapo-transpiration due to rising temperatures means few if any increases in the length of growing periods and rangeland or crop productivity.
  • Extreme rainfall events are likely to become more intense over much of northern East Africa.
  • An increase in climate variability in Kenya, leading to more than one drought every five years, is likely to cause significant and irreversible decreases in livestock numbers in the country’s arid and semi-arid lands, with severe impacts on pastoralists whose food security and livelihood depend solely on livestock.
  • Climate change will likely lead to increased food imports by Kenya, which will dampen demand for food, as the affordability of nearly all agricultural commodities—including basic staples and livestock products—declines, leading to increases in malnutrition, especially of young children in the country’s highly vulnerable arid and semi-arid lands.
  • As a result of climate change, Kenya could see significant areas where cropping is no longer possible and the role of livestock as a livelihood option increases.

Read the whole note: Climate Variability and Climate Change: Impacts on Kenyan Agriculture, Note on a Kenya Smallholder Climate Adaptation Project, by Mario Herrero, Claudia Ringler, Jeannette van de Steeg, Philip Thornton, Tingju Zhu, Elizabeth Bryan, Abisalom Omolo, Jawoo Koo and An Notenbaert, October 2010.

Update: ‘Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity’

Map 4.4  Five percent reduction in crop season, sensitivity to change, capacity

 

Last month the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) launched a report showing global hotspots to climate induced food-insecurity, garnering significant media attention. Several weeks later, the authors, from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), noticed two errors in the calculations, and so CCAFS immediately took the report offline for corrections. CCAFS issued an erratum that outlines the errors in the first version as well as in the press release. The errors are related to calcluation of population numbers, in one case the number of people at risk is underestimated, while in the other case the number of people most at risk is overestimated.

  1. The press release stated that “there are 56 million food-insecure and crop-dependent people in parts of West Africa, India and China who live in areas where, by the mid-2050s, maximum daily temperatures during the growing season could exceed 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).” The accurate number is 170.5 million. Why did this happen? The researchers miscalculated the population numbers (in this case the number of people affected) by a factor of about three. Therefore, the population number in the maps 4.4 through 4.12 are underestimated as well. Map 4.4 (above) was further modified to correct High and Low exposure categories (which had been reversed)  What is the significance of this? The new numbers tell us basically the same story as our previous calculations, only that more, not fewer, people are likely to be affected by hunger and more extreme climates.
  2. The press release stated that “there are 369 million food-insecure people living in agriculture-intensive areas that are highly exposed to a potential five percent decrease in the length of the growing period.” The accurate number is 265.7 million. However, the number in the two highest categories of vulnerability (HHL and HHH), goes up from around 607 million in the previous calculations to nearly 1 billion (999.8 million) in the current calculations.Why did this happen? The researchers mistakenly transposed the “high” and “low” exposure categories in the 5% map (4.4), which actually results in a lower number of people being most at risk than was stated in the press release.What is the significance of this? Our revised map shows the same basic message as our previous map, that large portions of India, West Africa, and China are predicted to be hotspots of both climate change and food insecurity.

Erratum: The corrected figures are now available for download (PDF).

Corrections to Press Release: Download the corrected press release in multiple languages at the CCAFS Press Room.

The final revised report is now available.

Livestock-based research recommendations for better managing drought in Kenya

Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northen Kenya

Kenya: drought leaves dead and dying animals in northern Kenya (photo on Flickr by Brendan Cox / Oxfam).

Humanitarian organizations are bracing themselves for the the task of addressing the unfolding crisis in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, where the rains have failed for two consecutive years and the next rainy season is not expected until September, at the earliest.

The BBC reports that in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, to which starving Somali’s are fleeing at a rate of some 1000 a day, ‘at a makeshift cattle market in the middle of the refugee camp, herdsmen are trying to sell off what little livestock they have left.

‘But no-one wants to buy the cattle and goats on sale here, for the chances are that very soon they will be dead.

‘There is nowhere for them to graze: the pastures here are parched and arid, and it has barely rained for two years running.

‘”I’m selling my cattle at knock-down prices,” said one man. “I’m practically giving them away.”

‘Not far away, the landscape is littered with the carcasses of dead animals.

‘In this part of the world, livestock are everything: they represent a family’s entire assets, capital, savings and income. When the animals die, it frequently means the humans do as well.’

Read the full article at the BBC: Horn of Africa drought: Vision of hell, 8 Jul 2011.

All organizations involved in supporting these livestock-keeping peoples of the Horn are passionate about not only saving the most vulnerable members of these pastoral communities today, but also about finding long-term solutions to recurring drought in this region. Those solutions necessarily rely on an evidence base provided by scientists, particularly livestock researchers.

Four recent research reports published by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, noted and linked to below, assess the effectiveness of past drought interventions in Kenya’s northern drylands and offer tools for better management of the region’s drought cycles.

(1) Leeuw, Jan de; Ericksen, P.; Gitau, J.; Zwaagstra, L.; MacMillan, S. Jul 2011. ILRI research charts ways to better livestock-related drought interventions in Kenya’s drylands. ILRI Policy Brief.

(2) Johnson, N. and Wambile, A. (eds). 2011. The impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII) on livelihoods and vulnerability in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya. ILRI Research Report 25. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

From the abstract: ‘There is an urgent need for new approaches and effective models for managing risk and promoting sustainable development in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), especially in the face of climate change and increasing frequency of drought in many areas. This study assesses the impacts of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMPII), a community-based drought management initiative implemented in 28 arid and semi-arid districts in Kenya from 2003 to 2010. The project sought to improve the effectiveness of emergency drought response while at the same time reducing vulnerability, empowering local communities, and raising the profile of ASALs in national policies and institutions. . . .’

(3) Ericksen, P., Leeuw, J. de and Quiros, C. 2010. Livestock drought management tool. Final report for project submitted by ILRI to the FAO Sub-Regional Emergency and Rehabilitation Officer for East and Central Africa 10 December 2010. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

From the abstract: In August 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sub-Regional Emergency Office for Eastern and Central Africa (REOA) contracted the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to develop a proto-type “Livestock Drought Management” (LDM) decision support tool for use by a range of emergency and relief planners and practitioners throughout the region. The tool, which is still conceptual rather than operational, links the concepts of Drought Cycle Management (DCM) with the best practice in livestock-related interventions throughout all phases of a drought, from normal through the alert and emergency stages to recovery. The tool uses data to indicate the severity of the drought (hazard) and the ability of livestock to survive the drought (sensitivity). . . .  The hazard data has currently been parameterized for Kenya, but can be used in any of the REOA countries. At the moment, the missing item is good-quality data for sensitivity. Additionally, experts did not agree on how to define the phase of the drought cycle. The tool requires pilot testing in a few local areas before it can be rolled out everywhere.

(4) Zwaagstra, L., Sharif, Z., Wambile, A., de Leeuw, J., Said, M.Y., Johnson, N., Njuki, J., Ericksen, P. and Herrero, M., 2010. An assessment of the response to the 2008 2009 drought in Kenya. A report to the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

In early 2010, ILRI scientists reviewed responses to Kenya’s 2008–2009 drought in six arid and semi-arid districts of the country. The authors reviewed 474 livestock-based interventions and came up with the following conclusions, recommendations and lessons regarding the drought management intervention cycle, among others.

The Early Warning Bulletins

Conclusion: . . . To allow sufficient time to scale up livestock based interventions . . . have early warning based on indicators that precede the deterioration of livestock condition, such as rainfall estimates or the greenness of rangeland detected from satellite imagery. . . . Recommendation: Include a separate early warning message in the EWB specifically geared towards triggering interventions aiming at livestock. . . . [Harmonize] procedures used among districts for such a livestock early warning system.

Timing of interventions

Conclusion: The timing of several of the interventions, notably destocking, was too late while vaccination was implemented during an inappropriate phase of the drought management cycle. . . . Recommendation: Strengthen capacity to plan the implementation of each intervention type in view of the phase of the drought management cycle.

Effectiveness and appropriateness of interventions

1 Water tankering and borehole support

Conclusion: Water tankering and support to boreholes were considered effective [but] repair to water infrastructure can be done in periods of reduced stress. . . . Recommendation: Maintain boreholes and other water infrastructure during periods of reduced stress in order to increase drought preparedness.

2 Destocking

Conclusion: An estimated 16,996 TLU [tropical livestock units] were purchased or slaughtered in response to the drought in the 6 study districts. This is higher than the 9,857 TLU were purchased in 2000/1 in 10 districts (Aklilu and Wekesa 2001), but far below what would have been needed. Slaughter destocking interventions . . . were considered more effective than commercial destocking . . . . Recommendation: Make use of existing commercial livestock marketing infrastructure and on site slaughtering to destock during drought. To achieve optimal impact, initiate these interventions early on in the drought management cycle. See chapter 7 and annex 5 commercial destocking workshop section for further recommendations.

3 Health

Conclusion: Over 5.7 million animals were reached by health interventions between July 2008 and December 2009. De-worming was considered effective and appropriate, while vaccination was not. Recommendation: Increase de-worming during drought as it keeps animals in better condition for longer. Restrict vaccination at middle or end drought as it might create mortality with animals in poor body condition

4 Forage and supplements

Conclusion: The provision of feed was far too little and poorly coordinated, overall it was considered among the least effective interventions. . . . It is worthwhile to consider developing hay production and fodder markets locally. Recommendation: Promote initiatives to develop local hay production, fodder markets and strategic fodder reserves.

5 Migration and peace-building

Conclusion: Peace building interventions were generally considered effective; 30% more animals migrated in 2008/9 than in 2000/1. Disease problems reduced effectiveness, which suggests that interventions around these issues should be part of future migrations. Recommendation: Access to disputed land as part of pastoral mobility remains paramount in their coping strategy and more effective means to support this are required. This includes GoK commitment to play their role but specific interventions can be designed in the short and medium term to alleviate this problem as well.

6 Livelihood implications

Conclusion: . . . Interventions that build on and support local livelihoods and link to longer term development are better than purely emergency ones. Recommendation: Build on and strengthen rather than undermine local institution, livelihood strategies and coping strategies.

7 Community involvement

Conclusion: Despite recommendations from past assessments, few interventions involved the community in design or implementation. Those that did tended to have better outcomes than those that did not. Recommendation: Involve communities before the drought in the design of drought contingency plans.

8 Triggering of interventions

Conclusion: As yet there are no agreed upon triggers for the release of contingency funds. Furthermore access to these funds is often delayed due treasury related constraints. Recommendation: The drought contingency plans should be regularly updated and contain agreed upon quantitative triggers for the release of funds to implement interventions. Creation of a sufficiently endowed national drought contingency fund deserves the highest priority.

9 Climate change adaptation and drought interventions

Conclusion: There is a danger of duplicating efforts already implemented under the drought management strategy and it is advisable to implement climate change adaptation through these existing institutional arrangements. Recommendation: Implement climate change adaptation policy through existing institutional mechanisms aiming at better drought cycle management.

Among the more generic lessons learned are the following

  • The continued implementation of a basket of suitable preparedness activities remains the most cost effective approach to reduce the impact of shocks.
  • . . . Emergencies of this nature . . . are increasingly caused by a basket of factors whereby reduced access to previously accessible high-potential grazing is the single biggest contributor to stress. This is heavily exacerbated by a relentlessly increasing demographic pressure, thus creating a cadre of the population who have limited access to any livestock at all and who are consequently extremely vulnerable to shocks.
  • The most effective interventions remain those where facilitation to access grazing and watering resources, which had hitherto not been accessible, was made accessible.
  • Increased semi-permanent presence of key non-governmental organizations in critical areas which are able to encompass a realistic drought management cycle approach has substantially improved information and speed of response. This, in combination with a vastly improved collaboration between agencies, together with improved coordination has at face value provided improved response in both quality and timeliness. The net impact of this is however largely negated due to other factors such as reduced line ministry capacity and related administrative/institutional developments such as the relentless creation of new districts and conflicts. . . .
  • So-called commercial de-stocking remains the least cost-effective intervention. Distance, timing and economies of scale play an important role but more than anything else the lack of a dynamic and lively existing marketing system in many places virtually precludes the creation of a commercial de-stocking operation that will have the required impact at an acceptable cost.
  • ‘Livestock-fodder-aid’ comes a close second whereby substantial quantities of bulky commodities such as hay are shipped to some of the furthest locations at huge costs with very little if any measurable impact.
  • Slaughter-off take, preferably carried out on the spot with meat being distributed rapidly to presumed needy families is popular with beneficiaries and . . . can have considerable benefit on nutrition while maintaining a limited purchasing power of those affected.

Mixed crop-and-livestock farmers on ‘extensive frontier’ critical to sustainable 21st century food system

Extensive farming in central Malawi

An extensive agricultural landscape typical of central rural Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero, who leads a Sustainable Livestock Futures group at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya, gave a slide presentation last November at an invitation-only US National Academy of Sciences’ scoping meeting on The role of animal agriculture in a sustainable 21st century global food system, held in Washington DC’s Dupont Circle.

Among the conclusions Herrero makes in his slide presentation, Food security, livelihoods and livestock in the developing world, is the need to change our agricultural investment paradigms so that we invest not only in the high-potential agricultural lands of the past (many of which, he says, are already ‘maxed out’), but also in the agricultural lands of the future.

What are these ‘agricultural lands of the future’? Well, those on which relatively extensive mixed crop-and-livestock systems are being practiced, for one.

For more on this topic, see ILRI’s current corporate report: Back to the future: Revisiting mixed crop-livestock systems, 2010, the foreword of which, by ILRI director general Carlos Seré and ILRI board chair Knut Hove, follows.

ILRI Corporate Report 2009-2011: Cover

ILRI’s Carlos Seré and Knut Hove say it’s ‘mixed farms’,
more than breadbaskets or ricebowls,
that will feed the world over the next two decades.

A hitherto disregarded vast group of farmers—those mixing crops with livestock on ‘in between’ lands—neither high-potential farmlands nor low-potential rangelands—are heavyweights in global food security.

This year’s corporate report by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) looks ‘back to the future’—to the thousand million farmers practicing small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock agriculture in poor countries—the kind of seemingly old-fashioned family farming systems that have become so fashionable in recent years among those wanting to reform the industrial food systems of rich countries.

Scientists at ILRI and seven other leading international agricultural research organizations around the world recently looked at the future of this form of farming and determined that it is ‘mixed farms’—not breadbaskets or ricebowls—that will feed most people over the next two decades.

Their report shows that it is not big efficient farms on high potential lands but rather one billion small ‘mixed’ family farmers tending rice paddies or cultivating maize and beans while raising a few chickens and pigs, a herd of goats or a cow or two on relatively extensive rainfed lands who feed most of the world’s poor people today. This same group, the report indicates, is likely to play the biggest role in global food security over the next several decades, as world population grows and peaks (at 9 billion or so) with the addition of another 3 billion people.

Remarkably, this is the first study ever to investigate the state of the world’s most prevalent kind of farmers—those who keep animals as well as grow crops. A major implication of the new report is that governments and researchers are mistaken to continue looking to high-potential lands and single-commodity farming systems as the answer to world hunger. As the study shows, many highly intensive agricultural systems are reaching their peak capacity to produce food and should now focus on sustaining rather than increasing yields.

A hitherto disregarded vast group of farmers—those mixing crops with livestock on ‘in between’ lands—neither high-potential farmlands nor low-potential rangelands—are heavyweights in global food security.

The authors of this multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary study, most belonging to centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), agree with many other experts that we need to bring our focus back to small-scale farms. But this report goes further, distinguishing one particular kind of small-scale farmer that should be our focus: this is the mixed farmer growing crops and raising animals in the world’s more extensive agricultural systems, which are described in detail on the next page.

These ‘mixed extensive’ farms make up the biggest, poorest and most environmentally sustainable agricultural system in the world. It is time we invested heavily in this particular kind of farming system. Here is where there remain the biggest yield gaps. Here is where we can make the biggest difference.

The billions of dollars promised by the international donor community to fund small-scale farming in developing countries are likely to fail unless policies are reoriented towards this particular, most ubiquitous, and till now most neglected, form of agriculture. What this ‘extensive frontier’ needs are the most basic forms of infrastructure and services. With these at hand, the world’s extensive mixed farmers will be in good position to scale up their food production to meet future needs.

Read ILRI’s corporate report: Back to the future: Revisiting mixed crop-livestock systems, 2010.

Watch a 4-minute ILRI photofilm (audio with still pictures) illustrating the importance of small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers: Tribute to the Unsung Heroes of Small-scale Food Production, 2011.

Those wanting more detail on the future of mixed farming should consult the research report by the CGIAR Systemwide Livestock Programme: Drivers of change in crop-livestock systems and their potential impacts on agroecosystems services and human well-being to 2030, 2009.

Integrating livestock and water management

Women washing and cow drinking at a river in Rajasthan, India

Livestock are often neglected in water management policies, yet demand for livestock products is predicted to soar, placing even greater pressure on scarce water supplies. A new brief outlines strategies and opportunities to double livestock water productivity.

Water management policies tend to focus on water productivity in crop production and industrial and domestic use. Livestock are given little attention. A new brief entitled ‘Integrating livestock and water management to maximize benefits’, highlights the important contributions livestock make to livelihoods, particularly in developing countries, and the need for livestock to be fully considered in water management policies in order to maximize benefits.

Demand for livestock products are predicted to double over the next twenty years and this will place greater pressure on already scarce water supplies. Livestock contribute to the livelihoods of at least 70% of the world’s rural poor, providing many benefits including food, fuel, fertilizer and transportation. According to ILRI scientist Don Peden, ‘integrating livestock and water could bring big benefits, but it is receiving little attention in the livestock and water sectors.’

Livestock water productivity
Livestock water productivity is the amount of water depleted or diverted to produce livestock and livestock products and services. Livestock require a great deal of water – not for drinking – but for their feed. Livestock water productivity can be increased by identifying areas where water efficiency gains can be made to free up scarce water for other uses.

Many people in industrial countries eat more food than is necessary and healthy.
‘Health experts and environmentalists in industrial countries are calling for people to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products. In the developing world, nutritionally deprived people could benefit from consumption of more animal products’ says Peden.

‘The challenge is to enable poor livestock keepers to get more from their animals, while using less water and reducing degradation of land and water resources.’ The convergence of high livestock densities and poverty occurs mostly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. To help the greatest number of livestock-dependent rural poor, these two regions would therefore be priority regions for integrating livestock and water development.

Distribution of poor livestock keepers (no.km3)

http://www.ilri.org/Link/Publications/Publications/Theme%201/Kruska%20et%20al%20Livestock%20systems%20Ag%20systems.pdf

Strategies for improving livestock water productivity

The brief outlines four strategies for improving livestock water productivity, to reduce the amount of water used in livestock production and to increase the benefits from livestock per unit of water used. The authors argue that by taking a balanced site-specific approach, that combines all four strategies, it should be possible to at least double livestock water productivity.

  • Strategic sourcing of animal feeds – Reducing the amount of water depleted to produce animal feed may be one of the most effective ways to improve water productivity globally. Three basic ways of accomplishing this are (i) promoting non-grain food sources with high water productivity, (ii) use of crop residues and by-products as feed, and (iii) practices that encourage more efficient grazing.
  • Enhancing animal productivity and reducing herd sizes – In much of the developing world livestock productivity is less than 50% of genetic potential. Milk production is low – often less than two litres per cow per day – as opposed to 15 litres or more. Promoting better health, genetics, nutrition and animal husbandry practices would enable livestock keepers to get more from fewer animals.
  • Reducing negative environmental impacts – Loss of vegetation due to overgrazing results in increased soil erosion, downslope sedimentation and reduced water infiltration. Research indicates that low to moderate grazing pressure has little negative impact on hydrology. Managing animals in ways that reduce land and water degradation, for example, by restricting animal access to certain areas and more integrated management of grazing land will help to reduce negative environmental effects.
  • Strategic provision of drinking water – The amount, quality and location of livestock drinking water can have a big impact on livestock water productivity. Water deprivation reduces feed intake and can greatly lower milk production. Providing adequate quality drinking water – strategically placed – enables animals to reach otherwise inaccessible grazing areas, keeps them from contaminating domestic water sources, and enhances production of meat and milk. Given the high value of animals, particularly to poor households, and the relatively small amount of water animals drink, strategic provision of drinking water is a good investment.

The authors argue that the livestock water productivity opportunities identified in the brief can only be realized if livestock and water are fully integrated and location-specific adjustments are made, for example, at the community level and integration of pasture management and water users associations.

West Africa’s regional livestock trade

Regional livestock trade in West Africa is suffering due to lack of policy integration and illegal cross-border “taxes”.

Livestock trade policies differ widely between countries in West Africa. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are livestock exporting countries, and want to strengthen livestock marketing and processing and promote regional trade. Livestock importing countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, promote policies that protect local livestock producers, boost internal production, and ensure food security in livestock products. A recently released report investigating livestock policies in six West African countries has urged that regional policies be streamlined, harmonised and implemented in a coordinated way to avoid bureaucratic bottlenecks. The report also noted that transportation of livestock across borders and illegal “taxes” represent significant additional marketing costs that impact negatively on regional livestock trade.

  • In West Africa, cross-border transportation can cost a staggering 300% more than the equivalent transfer of beef from Europe to West Africa’s coast. Meantime, regional cross-border transfer of cattle costs twice as much as domestic transportation, despite better transportation infrastructures.
  • Intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products are traded. For example, livestock drovers (people who drive herds of animals to market) are paid handling fees during the 2-3 day trip.
  • Some governments in the region are not fully committed to the implementation of agreed trade policy reforms concerning trade liberalisation and facilitation, exchange and payments systems and investment facilitation. This negatively affects costs of livestock trade and regional integration.
  • Illegal road taxation at numerous checkpoints can be as much as 10% of total marketing costs. Here, traders are required to make non-receipted payments to public agents for no obvious reason (see box below)
Illegal “taxes” at checkpoints hurt regional livestock trade

Numerous checkpoints exist along the highways where non-receipted payments are systematically made to police, customs, veterinary and other officials per truckload of cattle.

    Along the main cross-border trading routes, the checkpoints at Ferkessedougou and Bouake, both in Côte d’Ivoire, have the most notorious reputation, harbouring up to three different agents, namely: police, customs and gendarmerie. The checkpoint in Zegua, Mali is also reputed for frequent payments made to officials. Depending on the itinerary, total non-receipted payments can range from 12,000 FCFA on the Bittou to Accra route to 71,000 FCFA from Sikasso to Abidjan, translating respectively to 1.7 and 10.5% of cross-border marketing costs for cattle in the two routes. Illegal “taxes” between Sikasso to Abidjan are nearly twice as high as the government imposed fuel taxes for the same route.

Abolishing illegal cross border “taxes” would result in significant cost reductions and minimisation of delays that lead to deteriorating cattle health and sometimes death.

Recommendations include:

  • Protocols on regional livestock trade and regional integration introduced by the Union Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (UEMOA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), need to be streamlined, harmonised and implemented.
  • Regional livestock trade should shift its current focus from live animals to meat.
  • Regulations that provide for the free movement of people and goods in the region should be implemented by reducing the number of roadside checkpoints, curbing the excesses of conveyance companies (sociétés de convoyage), and actively fighting illegal road taxation.

Report and Briefs

The full report and a set of four briefs are now available for download.

Read the complete Improvement of Livestock Marketing and Regional Trade in West Africa report: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/1572/1/CFC_Report_on_Trade_In_WAfrica_1.pdf

Brief 1: Marketing livestock in West Africa: Opportunities and constraints: Brief 1  T.O. Williams, I. Okike, I. Baltenweck and C. Delgado.

This brief summarises the discussions and major outputs from a regional workshop held in Niamey, Niger in 1999. The objective was to analyse the economic, institutional and policy constraints to livestock marketing and trade in order to provide a basis for new policy interventions to improve market efficiency and intra-regional livestock trade.

Read the complete brief: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/1593/1/WestAfrLivestock1-Eng.pdf

Brief 2: Livestock marketing channels, flows and prices in West Africa: Brief 2. I. Okike, T.O. Williams, B. Spycher, S. Staal and I. Baltenweck

Livestock markets that are strategically located along the border of neighbouring countries to ease cross-border trade were studied to identify livestock marketing channels from farm gates to terminal markets. Economic operators and livestock flows within these channels were also examined along with seasonal variations and other factors affecting livestock prices. The findings indicate that producers and operators can realise significant economic benefits by increasing meat production and livestock trade value through improved credit access and better market information.

Read the complete brief: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/1774/1/WestAfrLivestock2-Eng.pdf

Brief 3: Lowering cross-border livestock transportation and handling costs in West Africa: Brief 3. I. Okike, B. Spycher, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

This brief analyses the costs incurred in the transfer of animals through the marketing chain and highlights areas where costs could be reduced for example, intra-regional trade in live animals attracts certain types of costs which are unlikely to be incurred if meat products, rather than live animals, are traded.

Read the complete brief: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/1932/1/WestAfrLivestock3-Eng.pdf

Brief 4: Promoting livestock marketing and intraregional trade in West Africa: Brief 4   I. Okike, T.O. Williams and I. Baltenweck

Livestock trade has the potential to contribute even more to foreign exchange earnings if properly promoted. The major economic, institutional and policy barriers to the realisation of the full potentials of livestock trade are identified in this brief.

Read the complete brief: http://mahider.ilri.org/bitstream/10568/1702/1/WestAfrLivestock4-Eng.pdf