Watch the following playlist of climate change films produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
These films describe how climate change is affecting millions of poor livestock herders and mixed crop-and-livestock farmers in Africa. Unpredictable and often extreme climatic events mean that overall, most of these livestock keepers struggle as droughts and floods devastate their increasingly fragile agricultural lands.
The first 8-minute film, ‘Heat, Rain and Livestock: Impact of climate change on Africa’s livestock herders’, shows how research-based interventions carried out by ILRI and its partners are helping livestock herders in northern Kenya cope with climate change.
Increasingly overcrowded lands and increasing competition for resources are contributing to more conflict between pastoral communities in many parts of Africa, but ‘scientific research, through projects such as ILRI’s Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) and a shift to raising animals that produce more (and more efficiently) and that are better adapted to climatic changes is making a difference.’
The second 4-minute film, ‘Climate, food and developing-country livestock farming’, describes many of the challenges experienced by small-scale livestock farmers in African countries, which remain under-appreciated by policymakers and the media in rich countries.
According to the ILRI film, ‘research can provide these farmers with the means to increase their production to meet growing demand for food in many countries while at the same time managing their environments.’
A screenshot of a film from the catalogue of over 100 livestock-for-development films that are now online (photo credit: ILRI).
An updated catalogue of high-quality livestock-for-development films is now available for downloading. This catalogue features over 100 short videos and several 15-to-20-minute documentaries produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) since 2006.
This short (5-minute) film, ‘Battling a Killer Cattle Disease’, produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), provides background and context for a recent research breakthrough made at ILRI’s animal health laboratories in Nairobi, Kenya, and at their partner institutions in the UK and Ireland. The research was funded over 7 years in large part by the Wellcome Trust in addition to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Trypanosomosis is a wasting disease of livestock that maims and eventually kills millions of cattle in Africa and costs the continent billions of dollars annually.
In 2011, a group of geneticists at these collaborating institutions identified two genes that enable Africa’s ancient N’Dama cattle breed to resist development of the disease trypanosomosis when infected with the causative, trypanosome, parasite.
The team members were able to make use of the latest gene mapping and genomic technologies because they had the genetic systems and experimental populations of livestock in place to do so as these technologies came on stream.
Eventually, these results should make it easier for livestock breeders in Africa to breed animals that will remain healthy and productive in areas infested by the disease-carrying tsetse fly.
The international team that came together in this project is an example of the disciplinary breadth as well as agility needed to do frontline biology today. In this work, the team developed several new research approaches and technologies that were needed to unravel some fundamental biological issues, with likely benefits for many African farmers and herders.
Those interviewed in the film include Harry Noyes, at the University of Liverpool; Alan Archibald, at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh; Andy Brass, at the University of Manchester; and Steve Kemp and Morris Agaba, at ILRI.
Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) is a regional research platform located in Nairobi, Kenya, that was officially launched by Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and other dignitaries in November 2010. The BecA Hub gives scientists and students from across the region access to state-of-the-art facilities in the life sciences.
One woman’s long-term commitment is responsible for much of this achievement. Gabrielle Persley is an eminent Australian plant scientist who directs a Doyle Foundation, named after her late husband, Jack Doyle, who for some two decades served as deputy director general-research of the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, a predecessor of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. For the last several years, Persley has served as senior advisor to ILRI’s director general, Carlos Seré.
In this 15-minute ILRI film, Persley describes an eventful, multi-year, and at times seemingly heroic, odyssey as she and others at ILRI, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the Canadian International Development Agency, along with other organizations, nursed the BecA Hub project at ILRI from the drawing board through political deliberations and, finally, into a brand spanking new laboratory complex on ILRI’s campus serving as a regional biosciences resource.
This was Persley’s last seminar at ILRI, before she left to return to her native Australia, where she is continuing her life-long work for international agricultural research for development with Australia’s Crawford Fund and other institutions and initiatives.
Calestous Juma, of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government, talks with clarity and humour about the hopeful future that he sees for Africa as the use of bioscience grows in the African agricultural sector.
He predicts that once started, African development will be faster than Chinese development since Africa has access to decades more globally generated knowledge.
This lively 45-minute keynote presentation was given by Juma at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi in March 2011. The occasion was the official launch of a regional Bio-Innovate Program, during which Juma introduced his newly published book, The New Harvest–Agricultural Innovation in Africa (Oxford University Press 2011).
Livestock keepers in West Africa rely largely on treating their cattle with drugs to protect them from trypanosomosis, a wasting disease transmitted by the tsetse fly. But parasite resistance to these drugs has emerged in many areas.
This 13-minute film by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) outlines good practices for improving the use of drugs and slowing the emergence of resistance. These practices, which are based on rational drug use, an approach from human health now adapted for animal care, are clearly explained so that veterinary workers and farmers can treat animals safely. Rational drug use can be combined with other methods that reduce the numbers of tsetse flies to further slow the spread of resistance to trypanocidal medicines.
This is one of three ILRI films telling the story of the current state of the war against a disease that is so deadly and widespread that farmers call it ‘the malaria of cattle’.
The gender-specific disadvantages and inequities faced by rural women in poor countries create challenges for the research and development specialists working to help them empower themselves. Political, social and cultural environments all need to change before most women will be able to take a larger role in generating incomes. Men and women both need to be involved for that to happen. And when that does happen, men and women both will benefit from women’s empowerment.
The views of four women experts in the area, shown in this short (3 minute: 40 second) film, were recorded at a February 28–2 March workshop held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a group of experts assessed the current state of gender-related agricultural research in Africa, particularly the experiences of a 5-year joint ILRI-Ethiopian government project called ‘Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian farmers (IPMS).
The following is a transcript
Ranjitha Puskur, Indian, agricultural economist at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
One of the major constraints that we saw that came in the way of helping women to take part in market-oriented agricultural activities is their lack of technical skills and knowledge.
Seblewongel Deneke, Ethiopian, sociologist at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)–Ethiopia Canada Cooperation Office
The project that we are looking at now from IPMS with ILRI has done a lot of experimenting on how to target women, how to target the household, how to get them engaged and how in some ways make people see the other side of things.
One of the things that we tried to do was to make sure the women have more access to knowledge and skill development through a number of trainings—and also bringing actually both the husband and wife together for the training so that they have a shared knowledge. We have demonstrated that this is a good way of approaching knowledge and skill sharing with women and men.
Jemimah Njuki, Kenyan, sociologist
What we have recently done in ILRI in terms of women and livestock is tried to put together what is it that we know at the moment on women and livestock and how to use livestock as a pathway out of poverty for women.
Seblewongel Deneke That I think is one of the gaps in this country—there isn’t much research happening. And on gender specifically, I think we look to ILRI for some of the research it’s done. And I think the approach that they are using, working with their development partners in getting those research works done, is excellent and it should be strengthened.
Anne Waters-Bayer, Canadian/Dutch, Ecology, Technology and Culture Foundation
I’m a bit surprised, I must say, to come to a workshop now in 2011 and to hear actually many of the same things being said that were said back in the early 1980s. We published this 30 years ago but publishing wasn’t enough. We obviously didn’t manage to get into people’s heads, into their hearts and into the materials that they are dealing with day to day our messages about the important role of women in agricultural development.
We are hoping that this then becomes a starting point from which development partners can then start saying this has worked before, this has not worked and research organizations can then say, these are the further questions that we need to address in terms of generating evidence.
Education is important. The more educated the women are, the more they will have control over the number of family members they can have. Reproductive health, the population pressure, all those things—there are many factors out there: it’s not just agriculture in isolation. For the research side of things that interlink—inter-linkages between sectors may be looked at, and then, maybe the answers would come from different angles.
There have been a number of projects, often localized—projects working on specific issues in specific areas and at specific times. So there’s all these pieces of the puzzle scattered everywhere, and this workshop is an attempt to bring all this together.
Yes, IPMS has done quite a bit of work on making research linked with the development aspect, and we have other projects that are doing similar approaches, where research and the development partners have come together to actually do the work together. And I think that is the best way to go forward.
We have made a lot of progress in terms of at least understanding what the gender issues in agriculture are, of even identifying some of the strategies that could be used to address these gender inequalities. I think what remains to be done is to see how those strategies, how those interventions, can be done at a scale that’s large enough to reach millions of women—which we need to do!
What happens when farming families in poor countries lose their most important possessions?
Through the words of one African family, we learn in this short (4 minutes, 50 seconds) film, 'Why livestock?' from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) how livestock losses change lives.
By providing nourishing food, regular income, traction for ploughing, and manure to fertilize their croplands, farm animals are the foundation of some one billion lives and livelihoods.
‘Life is hard for us now without livestock,’ says this family.
Research groups at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are helping Maasai livestock herders in East African to retain their native 'hairless' (non-wool producing) red Maasai sheep, which are genetically resistant to infections with gastro-intestinal worms (photo credit: ILRI).
Half of the world's livestock herders live with their animals on the vast rangelands of Africa, which comprise half of Africa's surface. Herders have always adapted to variable weather, but over the next 50 years, pastoralist areas will face more and more changes.
What’s the future for Africa’s 50 million livestock herders who live on lands too marginal for cropping as our climate changes, becomes less predictable, heats up? How can scientific research help remote pastoral communities?
Among the poorest of the world’s poor, herders supply milk and meat not only for themselves but for large numbers of other poor people. Although their animals produce few of the greenhouse gasses harming the earth, these people will be among those most hurt by the climate changes we expect.
Population growth and land degradation are already causing problems over much of the continent’s traditional rangelands. Many herders, having lost all their animals to droughts, are facing the end of their way of life.
Research-based approaches for adapting to climate change, however, offer options that can help herding communities sustain at least some aspects of their pastoral livelihoods.
These options include:
using satellite imagery to provide the first-ever drought insurance for pastoral herders in Africa's remote regions
cross-breeding an indigenous disease-resistant sheep breed kept by Maasai communities with higher-producing exotic sheep to get the benefits of both
helping communities shift from keeping grazers, such as cattle and sheep, to browsers, such as camels and goats
supporting pastoralists to take advantage of local opportunities, such as shifting from herding ruminant animals to raising fish in ponds.
The experiences in this film, alongside other initiatives will be presented by Mario Herrero, a scientist with ILRI, at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 10 December 2010, to show how ILRI is applying research to help livestock-based communities cope with the effects of climate change.
The 2009 drought in Kenya has had a devastating effect on pastoralists. Hundreds of thousands of cattle died and with them a way of life that had provided families a livelihood from the land.
We met Lawrence in a quarry just out of of Nairobi. For many generations his family have reared cattle on the rangelands of Kitengale. Now he shift rocks in order to pay his way through University and the dream of a better life.
This photofilm was made by duckrabbit during a duckrabbit photofilm workshop at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi August 2010.
The audio and photos were collected in less than an hour.
Steve Kemp, a geneticist at the Nairobi laboratories of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for both ILRI and the University of Liverpool, argues in this short video (2:24 minutes) the new opportunities — as well as urgent need — for exploring the remarkably rich livestock diversity that evolved and still exists on the highly diverse African continent.
‘We need to study the genetics of the animals,’ he says, as well as ‘the farming systems in which they are being used and their production characteristics. And that has never been done systematically in situ across this extraordinary diversity of African livestock.’ Kemp describes fast-improving technologies in the ‘new genetics’ — technologies that are allowing scientists, for the first time, to attempt these very broad kinds of genetic analyses. And he makes a case for establishing livestock genebanks to help preserve the continent’s livestock diversity, which is rapidly being lost. ‘Unless you move relatively quickly,’ warns Kemp, ‘there’ll be nothing left to study.’ Kemp makes these points in an article published in a June 2010 issue of the international journal Science. The co-authors of the article are Tadelle Dessie, an ILRI livestock breeding specialist based at ILRI’s campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Olivier Hanotte, a geneticist that formerly worked at ILRI and now directs a Frozen Ark initiative at the University of Nottingham, in the UK. Although genebanks are an important ‘stop-gap’ for preserving livestock diversity, says Kemp, his article makes the point that ‘at the same time that you bank, you must understand the characteristics of what you’re preserving.' 'ILRI is well positioned to catalyze this kind of research,’ Kemp says. ‘It has strong links with Africa and with African partners, who have access to the livestock. It has the mix of skills it needs to understand the function of livestock, right across the spectrum from disease resistance to their role in the marketplace. And it also has the technology — the molecular tools and the informatics tools — to allow us to begin this process.’ ‘But ILRI cannot perform any of this analysis alone,’ warns Kemp. ‘It needs to network with partners in the West and across Africa.’
Science: 'Time to tap Africa's livestock genomes', 25 Jun 2010
BBC News: 'African livestock offers untapped genetic resource', 24 Jun 2010
The genetic diversity of African livestock is increasingly under threat as indigenous livestock varieties are cross-bred, or slowly replaced, with exotic breeds that produce more milk and meat. Exotic livestock varieties are, however, less resistant to African environmental and climatic challenges and are also less resistant to endemic diseases like trypanosomosis (called ‘sleeping sickness’ in people).
The following 3-minute film highlights an initiative supported by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Uganda that is working to conserve purebred Ankole cattle, a breed native in eastern Africa and relied upon by farmers in at least four countries.
In the film, Daniel Semambo, Director of Uganda’s National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank, outlines the issues facing many developing countries as they try to improve their livestock productivity and at the same time they try to stem losses of their native livestock breeds and genes.