Livestock Innovation Lab Archive: Long-Term Research Projects in East Africa

Strengthening Tanzanian Livestock Health and Pastoralist Nutrition and Livelihoods in a Changing Climate

Principal Investigator: Jonna Mazet, University of California, Davis

Collaborators: Collaborators: Sokoine University of Agriculture, Friends of Ruaha Society, University of Vermont

Abstract: East African pastoralists, whose livelihoods depend crucially on livestock, are seriously threatened by climate change impacts on water, pasture and disease dynamics. In Tanzania’s biologically diverse and economically important Ruaha landscape, pastoralists relying on livestock for food, economic security and cultural preservation have felt the devastating effects of disease on animal survival, productivity and marketability. During recent livestock health capacity interviews, pastoralists repeatedly called for household-level education and better trained and equipped livestock extension officers (LEOs) to increase herd resilience to disease threats in their changing environment. LEO interviews echoed this critical need for livestock health training and diagnostic capacity. The project’s interdisciplinary team will implement an innovative intervention to meet this demand; extend educational opportunities to women and children; and intensively monitor and evaluate impacts on animal health, human nutrition and livelihoods. Integrating novel cell phone education delivery and follow-up, the research team will simultaneously expand training opportunities and collect real-time data on disease and monthly nutrition and economic outcomes. These data will enhance the ecosystem services modeling approach, addressing health outcomes from water policy and management decisions under changing climatic conditions. This collaboratively developed multi-level intervention will provide locally relevant knowledge and practices promoting adaptability and resilience of livestock systems, human nutrition and pastoralist livelihoods and will be evaluated for broader use in semi-arid systems threatened by climate variability. The project will leverage existing infrastructure and partnerships, build collaborations among researchers and stakeholders, develop institutional and local health services capacity and engage pastoralist communities that will be most affected by climate change.

Climate-induced Vulnerability & Pastoralist Livestock Marketing Chains in the Horn of Africa

Principal Investigator: Peter Little, Emory University

Collaborators: Pwani University, Addis Ababa University

Abstract: This project addresses interactions between climate-induced vulnerability and markets in drought-prone sites of southern Ethiopia (primarily) and northeastern Kenya. Secondarily, it examines changes in herd management and settlement strategies associated with climate variability and impacts on different groups of producers and market chains. The design is based on related premises that uncertainty over climatic events and their potential effects on pastoralist livelihoods and markets will continue in eastern Africa and that these effects remain poorly understood. The project will employ mixed methods of household surveys, ethnography, market chain and spatial analyses. Benefit/cost analysis will address herders’ and traders’ benefits/costs associated with different commodity chains, with a particular focus on how poor herders access different markets. Research sites for the study include: (1) the Borena zone, Ethiopia; and (2) Garissa District, northeastern Kenya. Both of these locations have experienced severe droughts at least four times since 1980, and now are deep in the midst of a drought and humanitarian crisis (2011). The study is directly relevant to US Government’s ‘Feed the Future’ strategy and its multiple concerns for ‘bridging the relief-to- development’ gap and expanding producer access to local and regional markets. It also relates to USAID/Ethiopia’s and USAID/Kenya’s goals of increased incomes and food security in arid and semi-arid (lowland) areas. By involving faculty, students, and practitioners at Pwani University College, Kenya, Addis Ababa University, and local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and firms, the project will build regional capacity to address climate-induced vulnerability among pastoralists and conduct pastoralist market chain analysis.

Sustainable Pastoralism on the Borana Plateau

Principal Investigator: Layne Coppock, Utah State University

Collaborators: Oromia Agricultural Research Institute

Abstract: The Borana pastoral system has endured several decades of decline. The climate is drier, human populations have increased, rangelands are degraded, herders are poverty-stricken and food-insecure, and livestock productivity – typically based on cattle – has dropped. The old system is unsustainable. Many pastoralists recognize these trends and are responding with innovative coping strategies. This study will work to reveal the best-bet land and livestock interventions that will move the pastoral system back towards sustainability. The research team will do this primarily via a participatory framework that creates community action plans. An innovation system team of research and development stakeholders will be assembled to help pastoralists implement their action plans within a year of project initiation. A period of monitoring and evaluation will follow. Interventions will include pilot tests of promising innovations. Associated capacity building will involve local researchers and pastoralists, with the latter including a special focus on women and the poorest households. A review of system dynamics indicates that priority research will include: (1) how to diversify livestock holdings to include more browsing camels and small ruminants; (2) how to improve rangeland productivity via changes in common property regimes and forage innovations; and (3) how to promote livelihood diversification to reduce excessive stocking rates and encourage faster marketed turnover of livestock. Research approaches will include use of interdisciplinary methods, including public engagement, household surveys, and technical trials and studies. Linear programming will clarify policy relevant issues regarding land use and climate change. Research results will be important locally and throughout the Greater Horn of Africa.

Camel Adaptation and Medicine in the East-African Land Scape

Principal Investigator: Paul Plummer, Iowa State University

Abstract: Camels are an increasingly important livestock commodity of the pastoralist and mid-altitude farmers of East Africa. Unfortunately, the development of camel specific veterinary diagnostic services has not mirrored the growth of this livestock sector, leaving a significant gap in the ability to meet the diagnostic needs of the industry. The objective of Dr. Plummer and his co-investigators Drs. Yaeger and Mckonnen is to improve the diagnostic medicine capacity for camels of Ethiopia through the application of a thorough needs assessment coupled with targeted capacity building, training and diagnostic test development. In order to accomplish this goal they are pursuing three research aims:

  1. Utilize a participatory epidemiology approach to perform a community based needs assessment of veterinary diagnostic services coupled with an evaluation of cultural barriers to successful implementation.
  2. Perform physical examinations and diagnostic screening of camels to determine the drivers of lost productivity.
  3. Build diagnostic capacity in a regional veterinary reference laboratory servicing 11 countries of East-Africa and assist them in disseminating the information to the local stakeholders.

The rationale for this approach is that sustainable change is only achievable when done in the context of this global holistic development approach. At the conclusion of the study they expect to have a prioritized list of key camel health and productivity drivers, insights into culturally acceptable means of influencing these drivers and educational materials designed to educate the local producers on these issues.

Poultry Skills for Improving Rural Livelihoods

Principal Investigator: David Bunn, University of California, Davis

Collaborators: Sokoine University of Agriculture, Heifer International Nepal

Abstract: Homestead and small-scale poultry production has tremendous potential for alleviation of malnutrition and poverty in climate-stressed rural communities in Africa and Asia. Tanzania, Nepal and across rural Africa and Asia, women and children raise chickens for income and sustenance. Women in rural households raise poultry primarily to sell the eggs and an occasional chicken. The income from poultry is often one of the few significant sources of income for women. Maintaining a poultry flock is also an important food security strategy for people living in stressed environments and changing climatic conditions. When livestock are in decline in drought years, poultry production can be particularly important for household income and as a source of nutrition. However, poor animal health and husbandry practices limit animal production, and related economic growth and public health benefits throughout Africa and Asia. Diseases and predation typically decimate most village flocks. Newcastle disease is the most difficult challenge, often causing 80 percent mortality among village chicken flocks.