Innovative and collaborative veterinary organizations make vaccine available to Kenyan livestock keepers

A group of determined Kenyan livestock keepers set in motion an innovative collaboration that has benefited cattle-keeping communities throughout Kenya
Starting in 2000, word started getting out among Kenyan pastoralists that a vaccine being administered in Tanzania was succeeding in protecting cattle against East Coast fever. Kenya at that time did not condone use of this vaccine due to perceived safety and other issues, and so Kenya ’s livestock keepers could not get hold of it. In response, they began to walk their calves across the Kenya border into Tanzania to get them vaccinated.

‘East Coast fever is responsible on average for half of the calf mortality in pastoral production systems in eastern Africa . This vaccine represented a much needed lifeline for many pastoralists, and livestock keepers in Kenya wanted access to it,’ Evans Taracha, head of animal health at at ILRI explained.

‘ILRI faced a dilemma. We had produced a vaccine right here in Nairobi, at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), that could protect pastoral and other cattle against East Coast fever, but, due to government regulations, our beneficiaries could not get access to it in Kenya.’

Kenya’s livestock keepers then started lobbying national authorities and called upon Vétérinaires sans Frontières (VSF)-Germany, an international veterinary NGO based in East Africa , to help them. Thus began a highly successful multi-partner collaboration.

Besides VSF-Germany, the collaboration includes ILRI, the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU/IBAR), the Director of Veterinary Services (DVS), the NGO VetAgro, and the community-based Loita Development Foundation.

Gabriel Turasha, field veterinary coordinator for VSF-G said, ‘The demand for this vaccine was evident from the farmers’ actions. What we needed to prove – to the authorities restricting its use – was that the vaccine was safe, effective and a superior alternative to the East Coast fever control strategy already being used in Kenya .’

Armed with scientific evidence, the collaboration successfully lobbied the Kenyan government and then facilitated local production and local access to the vaccine. Three vaccine distribution centres have been established in Kenya and more than 10,000 calves vaccinated.

John McDermott, ILRI’s deputy director general of research, said, ‘This collaboration illustrates how the research from “discovery to delivery” can be facilitated by collaboration between research institutes, which are in the business of doing science, and development partners, which are in the business of on-the-ground delivery. This has been a great success story—and a great win for Kenya ’s pastoralists.’

This innovative collaboration has been selected as a finalist in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) ‘Innovation Marketplace Awards’. These awards recognize outstanding collaborative efforts among CGIAR-supported centres and civil society organizations. Four winners will be announced at the CGIAR’s Annual General Meeting, to be held in Washington, DC , in December 2006.

Carlos Seré, director general of ILRI, said, ‘We are delighted to learn that this partnership has received recognition. ILRI is involved in a host of innovative collaborations and continues to seek new partners—from civil society organizations to the private sector to local research institutions—to help us deliver on our promises to poor livestock keepers in developing countries.’

ollaborative Team Brings Vaccine against Deadly Cattle Disease to Poor Pastrolists for the First Time

Related Articles on Innovation Collaborations
ILRI recently collaborated with VSF-Belgium, VSF-Switzerland and two Italian NGOs in an Emergency Drought Response Program in Kenya.

VSF, ILRI, Italian NGOs, and Kenya Collaborate to Mitigate the Effects of Drought in Northern Kenya

The ILRI collaborative effort described in this Top Story was featured in the Journal of International Development (July 2005) as an example of a ‘potentially new model of research and development partnership’ with a more ‘complete’ approach to innovation.


Further Information
VSF-Germany is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization engaged in veterinary relief and development work. VSF-Germany's primary role involves the control and prevention of epidemics; the establishment of basic veterinarian services and para-veterinarian programs with high involvement of local people; the improvement of animal health, especially among agriculturally useful animals; food security through increases in the production of animal-based food and non-food products; and the reduction of animal diseases that are transferable to humans. VSF-Germany carries out emergency as well as development operations. The organization's area of operation is East Africa.


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