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

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Climate Change, Pastoral Resources and Livestock in the Sahel: Developing a Community Relevant Pastoral Prediction System

Principal Investigator: Niall Hanan, South Dakota State University

Collaborators: Institute of Polytechnique Rural, University of Bamako, Mali, US Geological Survey

Abstract: The “Climate Change, Pastoral Resources and Livestock in the Sahel” project is a ‘Research for Development’ (R4D) program of activities, with collaborators at SDSU and the EROS Data Center we will leverage our long-term ecological and pastoral systems research in West Africa to develop products of direct and applied value to local pastoral communities in Senegal. Working with an interdisciplinary team of West African and US researchers, educators, students and non-governmental organizations (NGO) we will focus on the development of a coupled pastoral systems model (incorporating vegetation dynamics, livestock and ecohydrological sub-models, and land use trends) that can be used to explore how climate and land use change will impact future pastoral resources in West Africa. The project responds to our perception that there is currently inadequate basic understanding of how climate change will impact pastoral resources in Africa in the coming decades. We will also address head-on the ‘R4D challenge’ of how to translate fundamental scientific research to help poor communities prepare for and adapt to climate and land use change, enhance nutritional and reduce vulnerability of pastoral communities in West Africa.

Riverine Management Systems for the Future

Principal Investigator: John McPeak, Syracuse University

Collaborators: University of Wisconsin, Texas A&M University, Institut Senegalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA)

Abstract: Riverine systems in arid and semi-arid lands serve as key resources that support livestock and crop production. For herders, rivers flowing through dry lands are critical for producing dry season grazing reserves and essential sources of permanent water. For cultivators, the water allows cultivation both though recessional cultivation of floodplains and irrigated cultivation using river water. Due to increased population pressure and changing rainfall patterns in the Senegal and Niger River basins, the agricultural economy based on these riverine systems has come under the kinds of stresses that climate models predict may become more widespread in the future. This makes study of these systems a priority, as understanding what they have already experienced will be critical in understanding likely outcomes in other similar environments. The project is designed to investigate four linked questions: what has been the impact of climate change on the vegetation of riverine systems to date; what are the key points on the transhumance corridors currently used and how do riverine resources support these corridors; what livestock-based development interventions can be identified that increase human nutrition through improved milk access and increased income, particularly women’s income; and what are the benefits and costs of different methods of increasing food security though irrigated rice production. The research agenda provides technical support to development partners in Senegal and Mali. In addition, students at universities in Mali and Senegal will be integrated into the research agenda, thus enhancing the capacity of the host countries.

Understanding Parasitic Disease Transmission and Control Strategies

Principal Investigator: Jorge Hernandez, University of Florida

Collaborators: Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles, Senegal Ministry of Health

Abstract: Climate change is expected to affect water supply, agricultural production (crop and livestock husbandry), spatial and seasonal patterns of gastro-intestinal parasite infections in livestock in Africa. Changes in water supply can have devastating implications in Africa, where much of the population relies on local rivers for water and agricultural productivity. Climate warming can expand the geographic distribution of parasitic infections, but it can also have a negative effect on parasite survival if the duration of dry season is prolonged. In addition, socioeconomic and ecological forces can drive human and livestock movements, thereby confounding the effect of climate change on spatial and seasonal patterns of parasitic infections in people and animals. How parasites respond to seasonal and long-term climate changes is not well understood. In response to these challenges, we have established a strategic partnership between the University of Florida and Senegal’s Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles and Senegal’s Ministry of Health. Our current UF:Senegal Research Team includes professionals in multiple disciplines in the health and social sciences. Overall, our initial plan is to produce baseline data and monitor gastro-intestinal parasite burden and anemia in small ruminants, as well as pregnant women and children in rural communities along the Senegal River (annually) before, during, and after the rain season. Our annual research of animal and human health population data, socio-demographic and –economic data, and environmental data will help define accepted and adaptable interventions to reduce gastro-intestinal parasite burden and to improve the nutritional status of livestock and people in West Africa.

Poverty Reduction Through Innovative Tick Control

Principal Investigator: Albert Mulenga, Texas A&M University

Abstract: The goal of this project is to reduce poverty and increase productivity of livestock pastoralists in West Africa through innovative tick and tick borne disease control. We propose to produce a chimeric anti-tick vaccine unique to West Africa, strengthen institutional capacity through graduate degree training, and transfer technology for producing recombinant anti-tick vaccine antigens in Mali. The anti-tick vaccine will target Amblyomma variegatum ticks and will be based on orthologs of four A. americanum proteins namely: antigens, AV422 and PA107, EMMPRIN and IGFBP-rP1. Preliminary investigations showed that RNAi silencing of the four targets prevented ticks from successfully feeding immunization of rabbits with a cocktail mix of the four recombinant proteins conferred protective immunity indicated by reduced tick feeding efficiency up to ~85% as measured by failure to feed to repletion, reduced engorgement weights and 100% mortality after ticks were detached from the host (unpublished). A. variegatum is the most prevalent tick species in West Africa and transmits Ehrlichia ruminatium which causes heart water disease in livestock. This tick also predisposes infested animals to Dermatophilus congolensis infections that reduce the monetary value of hides. Thus, effective control of this tick as proposed in this application will have broader impacts in improving the economy. The research team is well suited to execute the proposed project since it has multidisciplinary expertise in vaccine development, acarology and outreach, partners in Mali, and TAMU has a track record in executing USAID funded projects in West Africa.