The ILRI 2019 Annual Report> It begins in the lab

ILRI/Paul Karaimu
Caption should be: A CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub was launched at ILRI Nairobi in February 2019.

State-of-the-art antimicrobial susceptibility testing laboratory at the CGIAR AMR Hub led by ILRI

State-of-the-art antimicrobial susceptibility testing laboratory at the CGIAR AMR Hub led by ILRI

By Ekta Patel

The CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Hub (the ‘Hub’), a global research and development partnership that aims to mitigate agricultural-associated antimicrobial resistance risks in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), has recently established an antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) Centre of Excellence. AST will help close knowledge gaps that exist on AMR in LMICs and provide the scientific information policymakers need to develop action plans to combat the rise of AMR.

Antimicrobials are agents that either kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms like bacteria or fungi. They are critical for curing infections and improving both human and animal health and welfare. However, the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials can lead to the emergence of antimicrobial resistant organisms, which can’t be effectively treated if they infect humans or animals. Reduced treatment options and a shortage of new antimicrobials affect global efforts to improve public health, food security and the livelihoods of those in LMICs. The World Bank estimates that increasing AMR could reduce global animal productivity by 7.5% within the decade.

Before AST can be performed, the bacteria species must be identified. Traditionally, bacterial identification is done by a series of biochemical tests, which could take up to two days. The Hub has an instrument that performs a high-throughput technology known as matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry or MALDI-TOF MS, which is a significant improvement as bacteria can now be identified within seconds. Moreover, this instrument can be also be used to identify fungi and arthropods such as ticks. The AST also has a Sensititre System enabling it to quantify antimicrobial resistance, which is relevant to understand AMR risks and treatment options. 

MALDI-TOF MS will allow users across the continent to identify bacterial species within seconds.

Led and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya, the Hub brings together four CGIAR centres, namely the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), WorldFish, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and ILRI, as well as key partners in several CGIAR research programs. The Hub builds on five research pillars to address antimicrobial use, understand AMR transmission dynamics, implement locally relevant interventions, support evidence-based policy dialogue and build capacity.

CGIAR AMR Hub media sensitization activity held on 15 November 2019 at ILRI campus, Nairobi, Kenya.

The AST Centre of Excellence is one of several key advantages the Hub, as a state-of-the-art diagnostics facility, offers researchers worldwide. Located in Nairobi, Kenya, the Hub is uniquely placed to help survey and identify potential AMR threats in the global South. The Hub will help build scientific capacity and nurture partnerships throughout the continent.

AMR transmission has not been studied comprehensively in developing countries, whose societies, agricultural practices, institutions and economies differ in important ways from the richer countries of the global North. Understanding these contexts is critical, because simply replicating policies developed in the North for controlling AMR may have severe, unintended consequences for animals and for people’s livelihoods in the developing world.

The World Bank estimates that increasing AMR could reduce global animal productivity by 7.5% within the decade.

Robert Skov, scientific director for the International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions in Denmark, a partner to the AST Centre of Excellence, says, ‘The CGIAR AMR Hub represents a significant improvement of AMR activities across the CGIAR network, both as knowledge centre and for coordination of cross-centre activities.’

Skov added that both the AST Centre of Excellence and the CGIAR AMR Hub in general can help countries translate their policies into practices. Supporting the prudent use of antibiotics in the food chain can foster best practices solutions such as sustainable, climate-smart agriculture.

‘Knowledge of AMR within agricultural systems remains weak in most low- and middle-income countries, and the Hub can thus be a major collaborative partner for countries in the region’, says Skov.

Arshnee Moodley, the team leader of the Hub, says, ‘This is a very exciting time. We are not only strategically placed to address AMR gaps in low- and middle-income countries, but are also working with world-class partners like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and EUCAST Development Laboratory which can serve as serve as knowledge and training resources’

Better lives through Livestock

How the other half works:
Making a living with livestock

International Livestock Research Institute2019 Annual Report

Photo credit: ILRI/Georgina Smith
Jimmy Smith, ILRI director general (l) with ILRI board chair Lindsay Falvey(photo credits: ILRI/Alexandra de Athayde and ILRI/Susan MacMillan)


We are publishing the 2019 annual report of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) during a global pandemic whose impacts on human health and the global economy have already proven catastrophic. Both COVID-19 and recent events around the world have shown that inequalities of various kinds—social, racial and economic, among others—remain powerful forces that need to be addressed. At ILRI, we are committed to ensuring that our research on livestock contributes in a multitude of ways to addressing the current crisis, from preventing future pandemics to helping those most impacted by the present one. We are working on livestock solutions that help re-ignite economies, support health and nutrition, and build up sustainable and resilient food systems in the poorer parts of the world.

This report’s focus on gender is especially timely. Few societies in the world are free from inequalities arising from gender, as few are free from inequalities of race, status and multiple other kinds of division.

read more

A gendered lens: Women, men and the future of livestock

Picture a livestock keeper in the developing world. In all likelihood, you are visualizing a man, perhaps herding cows and goats across a savanna or ploughing a piece of farmland with bullocks. The very term ‘animal husbandry’—which refers to the care, cultivation and breeding of animals—denotes masculine qualities, deriving as it does from late Old English (‘male head of a household’). But of course, it is not only men who keep livestock.

In fact, some two-thirds of the developing world’s hundreds of millions of poor livestock keepers are women, not men. In these countries, women, not men, perform most of the work in farm and herding households that goes into caring for animals. It is these women, not their menfolk, who do most of the day-to-day farm animal management as well as the processing, marketing and selling of the milk and eggs their animals produce. And it is developing-country women, not men, who typically make daily household decisions regarding a family’s chickens and other small stock.

read more

Nicoline de Haan, ILRI gender team leader(photo credit: CGIAR CRP on Water, Land and Ecosystems)

Thanks to our Donors and Partners

we worked on


Projects in 2019

  • 63


  • 70


  • 118


  • 11,839


The animals they keep

Feature stories highlighting ILRI's gender work

ILRI is a research-for-development institute, dedicated to a world free of poverty, hunger and environmental degradation. Its projects and initiatives reach beyond the library or the laboratory to the real world. The four stories that follow depict with journalistic flair and photographic detail the opportunities and challenges facing women and men building a better future for themselves through livestock.

The CGIAR gender platform

A renewed platform on gender aims to give greater voice to women farmers in the developing world Hosted by ILRI, the multi-centre collaborative effort will focus on gender equality and transformative food systems

Women farmers in the developing world face a host of challenges, from balancing domestic and agricultural chores to securing access to land and markets. To help women achieve gender equality in food systems, and to sustainably defeat hunger and enhance nutrition, CGIAR has launched a CGIAR GENDER Platform. The platform aims to create a ‘new normal’-a world in which greater gender equality drives more equitable, sustainable, productive and climate-resilient food systems.
ILRI is proud to serve as host for a new CGIAR-wide platform on gender issues in global agricultural research for development. Known as GENDER (Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results), the platform aims to help transform the way gender research is done, both within and beyond CGIAR, and to help kick-start a process of genuine change towards greater gender equality and better lives for smallholder farmers everywhere.

Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI, stated, 'GENDER is well positioned to produce far-reaching and enduring impacts because it will aim to give a voice to the millions of women who today are mostly excluded from the extremely urgent efforts to produce enough, and good enough, food under the climate crisis. Only when both women and men are empowered to transform food systems can they successfully nourish families, communities and entire nations, today and in the future.'
Launched in January 2020, GENDER builds on a wealth of research and learning generated by the previous CGIAR Gender Network and the Collaborative Platform for Gender Research (2011–2019). It includes all 14 CGIAR research centres, 12 collaborative CGIAR research programs and 3 other CGIAR system-wide research support platforms and will forge alliances with change-makers in government, academia, national agricultural research extension systems and non-governmental organizations.

ILRI's gender team

It begins in the lab

But extends to the field

Fighting animal disease, planting better forages, preventing the dangerous spread of antimicrobial-resistant infections and improving food safety all require meticulous scientific work. ILRI’s biosciences division provides researchers with the time and resources to carry out that painstaking research. These stories show how ILRI is working to find solutions that will progressively reduce poverty and improve human health.

Building for the future

Making tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible

Tomorrow’s scientific breakthroughs can only happen if we invest in people and institutions today. ILRI maintains a variety of programs to enhance mission effectiveness and stimulate global research on livestock in the developing world. Its internship program has hosted scores of undergraduate interns from the world over—the next generation of livestock scientists. Its Ethiopia campus provides a model of how CGIAR centres can work synergistically. And its pioneering genotyping platform is helping scientists throughout Africa to modernize and strengthen breeding programs.

The right policies

The science of livestock systems

Because they are embedded in structures that extend from the family home to global trade, the economics, policies and social science of livestock systems remain ILRI's focus. ILRI’s scientists are helping the Kenyan government develop land-use policies to ensure a viable future for the country’s millions of pastoralists. They are identifying sustainable, bottom-up, stakeholder-led interventions in livestock value chains. And they are ensuring that farmers in Africa participate in climate-smart solutions that maximize productivity while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

ILRI digital reach and social media


Website performance since launch in March 2019

  • Users +81%
  • Pageviews +123%

Top 2019 science journal articlesfrom ILRI programs