East Coast fever vaccine comes to market in eastern and southern Africa

As the board of trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) meets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week, reviewing ILRI’s animal health research among other work, an ILRI vaccine project is highlighted in a new publication, DFID Research 2009–2010: Providing research evidence that enables poverty reduction. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation both support the Global Alliance in Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), which works to convert existing or near-market technologies into livestock medicines and vaccines for use in developing countries. The notable success of this strategy in 2009, says DFID, is an East Coast fever vaccine produced by ILRI. East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds in eastern, central and southern Africa, where it threatens some 25 million cattle in 11 countries and is now putting at risk a further 10 million animals in new regions, such as southern Sudan, where the disease has been spreading at a rate of more than 30 kilometres a year. The disease is a major cattle killer. In herds kept by the pastoralist Maasai, it kills 20–50% of all unvaccinated calves, which makes it difficult and often impossible for the herders to plan for the future or to improve their livestock enterprises. A vaccine for East Coast fever could save over a million cattle and up to £170 million a year in the 11 countries where the disease is now endemic. An experimental vaccine against East Coast fever, which makes use of live but weakened parasites, has existed for more than three decades, with batches mass produced in ILRI’s Nairobi laboratories. Although constrained by the need for a ‘cold chain’ to keep the ‘live’ vaccine viable, field use of this vaccine in Tanzania and elsewhere has proved it to be highly effective and in demand by poor livestock keepers, who are paying for the vaccine to keep their animals alive. GALVmed has worked with ILRI and private companies, such as VetAgro Tanzania Ltd., to make East Coast fever vaccine available to the livestock keepers who need it most and to scale up production in future. With £16.5 million provided by DFID and the BMGF, GALVmed began working on the registration and commercial distribution and delivery of a new batch of the vaccine produced by ILRI. The vaccine was successfully registered in 2009 in Malawi and Kenya, with Tanzania and Uganda expected to follow soon. If it is approved in Uganda, it will be the first veterinary vaccine formally registered in that country. GALVmed is now working to establish viable commercial production and delivery systems, aiming that by the end of 2011, all aspects of the production and delivery of East Coast fever vaccine are in private hands.

Re-assessing the fodder problem

Small-scale farmers depend largely on their animals and need to feed them well. However, several factors threaten its supply. Technology based innovations have been the mainstream solution to improve the fodder problem. But making farmers find relevant information and networks appears to be as effective for innovation. An ILRI project looks at the issue from a different point of view and discovered that the problems related to fodder availability have just as much to do with access to knowledge as with access to appropriate technology. This article in the March 2010 issue of ILEIA’s ‘Farming Matters’ magazine profiles the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project. Read the article… Farming Matters Magazine In this video interview, Ranjitha Puskur shares some lessons from the project: [blip.tv ?posts_id=2966873&dest=-1]

Scottish and Kenyan research groups collaborate to improve control of deadly cattle disease in Africa

ITM Vaccine New project launched to investigate how immunity develops in cattle to fatal diseases caused by different strains of tick-borne parasites

More than 1 in 5 people in sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line. Many of these people live in rural communities heavily dependent on livestock for their livelihoods. One of the most important diseases of cattle in this region is East Coast fever, a lethal infection of cattle caused by the tick-borne parasite Theileria parva. This disease afflicts cattle populations in 16 countries across eastern, central and southern Africa and is the most economically important cattle disease in 11 of these countries. Losses due to East Coast fever exceed US$300 million annually. Imported high-yielding breeds of cattle, which are increasingly being used to satisfy increasing demands for milk in this region, are particularly susceptible to this disease.
Although East Coast fever can be controlled by treating infected animals with anti-parasitic drugs and by regularly spraying or dipping animals with anti-tick chemicals, these methods are difficult to apply and costly for poor livestock keepers. Vaccination offers a more sustainable means of controlling the disease.
Cattle can be immunized against the disease by infecting them with live parasites while simultaneously treating the animals with long-acting antibiotics. Because several strains of the parasite exist in the field, this vaccination comprises a mixture of strains. A vaccine cocktail mixing three parasite strains is being used successfully in some endemic countries, but applying this so-called ‘live vaccine’ remains hindered by difficulties in maintaining the quality of the vaccine material and in finding ways to distribute the vaccine, which needs to be kept cold, cost-effectively to widely dispersed cattle herders. In addition, it remains uncertain whether the current mix of parasite strains in the vaccine is optimal for obtaining robust immunity.
Recent studies of East Coast fever have shown that the so-called ‘protective’ proteins of the causative parasite—that is, the antigenic molecules that are recognized by the T lymphocytes of the bovine immune system and thus help animals fight development of disease—vary among the different strains of the parasite that exist in the field. This project will build on these advances to investigate the nature and extent of variability in these antigens between parasite strains. This knowledge will help scientists understand the factors that determine which parasite strains induce protective immune responses in animals that have been vaccinated.
Results of the project should provide methods for maintaining high quality of the current live vaccine and identifying parasite strains that could be incorporated into an improved second-generation live vaccine. The information should also help researchers design new, genetically engineered, vaccines, which comprise not whole parasites but rather antigenic molecules of the parasite—and thus are safer, cheaper and easier to distribute than the current live vaccine.
‘This is an important project for us,’ said Philip Toye, a vaccine developer from International livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ‘The information we expect to generate will greatly increase our understanding of the current live vaccine that is being used to protect animals against East Coast fever. We can use this information to get this vaccine into wider use in the region.’
This project is being conducted jointly by scientific groups at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, in Scotland, and at ILRI, in Nairobi. The project is part of a new initiative called Combating Infectious Diseases of Livestock in Developing Countries funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Services Research Council, the UK Department for International Development and the Scottish Government. ILRI’s research in this area is also supported by members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

ILRI, Equity Bank and UAP Insurance launch first-ever project to insure cows, camels and goats in Kenya’s arid north

Satellite images of remote African lands are used to insure herders from devastating droughts

Arid lands

Thousands of herders in arid areas of northern Kenya will be able to purchase insurance policies for their livestock, based on a first-of-its-kind program in Africa that uses satellite images of grass and other vegetation that indicate whether drought will put their camels, cows, goats and sheep at risk of starvation.

The project was announced today in northern Kenya’s arid Marsabit District by the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), microfinance pioneer Equity Bank and African insurance provider UAP Insurance Ltd.

The index-based livestock insurance program will use satellite imagery to determine potential losses of livestock forage and issue payouts to participating herders when incidences of drought are expected to occur. If successful in the Marsabit District—where few of the 86,000 cattle and two million sheep and goat populations, valued at $67 million for milk and other products, are rarely slaughtered—the program would be offered to millions of semi-nomadic pastoralists and livestock keepers in other parts of the east African region.

“Today, our agents will begin selling insurance policies backed by UAP that for the first time will provide pastoral families in Kenya’s remote Marsabit District with a simple way to reduce their drought risk —the biggest threat to their cherished herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and camels—from devastating lives and livelihoods,” said Equity Bank Managing Director James Mwangi. “Livestock is the key asset for families in this region and securing this asset is critical to their ability to obtain credit and investments that can allow them to grow and prosper.”

ILRI, which is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), developed the project with partners at the Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya, Cornell University, Syracuse University, the BASIS program at University of Wisconsin, and the Index Insurance Innovation Initiative. The project is funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank and Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya).

Insuring livestock of pastoral families has long had been considered impossible due to the formidable challenges of verifying deaths of animals that regularly are moved over vast tracts of land in search of food. ILRI and its partners have overcome this impediment by combining satellite images of vegetation in the Marsabit District with monthly surveys of livestock deaths to pinpoint the level of forage reduction that will cause animals to die. This program is different from all others because it does not pay clients based on the actual loss of their livestock assets, but rather on indicators that the animals are at risk of death.

“The reason this system can work is that getting compensation does not require verifying that an animal is actually dead,” said Andrew Mude, who is the project leader at ILRI. “Payments kick in when the satellite images, which are available practically in real time, show us that forage has become so scarce that animals are likely to perish.”

Droughts are frequent in the region—there have been 28 in the last 100 years and four in the past decade alone—and the losses they inflict on herders can quickly push pastoralist families into poverty. For example, the drought of 2000 was blamed for major animal losses in the district.

“Insurance is something of the Holy Grail for those of us who work with African livestock, particularly for pastoralists who could use insurance both as a hedge against drought—a threat that will become more common in some regions as the climate changes—and to increase their earning potential,” said ILRI Director General Carlos Seré.

The cost of the plans offered will vary depending on the number of animals and the area of coverage. The policies contain a clause akin to a deductible, in which a family would buy coverage that would pay-out when livestock losses are expected to exceed a certain level. “We believe this program has potential because it has the elements insurers need to operate, which is a well-known risk (drought), and an external indicator that is verifiable and can’t be manipulated, which in this case is satellite images of the vegetation,” said James Wambugu, Managing Director of UAP Insurance.

The data on forage availability are derived from satellite images of plant growth in the region that are part of a global survey known as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI, a database regularly updated by scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). To develop the livestock insurance program, ILRI used NDVI data collected since 1981 estimating forage availability vegetation in the Marsabit District. This information was combined with data on livestock deaths that have been collected monthly since 2000 by the Kenya Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP) and USAID’s Pastoral Risk Management Project. The result is a statistical model that reliably predicts when and to what degree forage reductions will result in drought-related livestock deaths.

Given the complexity of index-based livestock insurance, ILRI and its partners have developed an insurance simulation game for local communities to explain the key features of the insurance policy and tested it across the Marsabit District. ILRI’s Mude said many of the herders who played the game became intensely involved in the simulation. “It helps them understand how insurance can protect them against losses. They also appear to simply enjoy playing the game itself, which generates a lot of animated discussion,” said Mude.

Mude said there is a potential for livestock insurance to be valuable even without a drought that triggers payments. For example, a policy could prevent stock losses by providing pastoralists the means to obtain credit for purchasing feed and drugs that would allow animals to survive the tough conditions. Similarly, pastoralists who want to expand their herds to take advantage of Africa’s rising demand for livestock products are likely to find it easier to obtain capital from private creditors now unwilling to lend due to the risks associated with droughts.

But more fundamentally, ILRI believes insurance can help avert an all too common catastrophe, and one that could occur with more regularity if climate change alters rainfall patterns in the region: droughts pushing pastoralist families into chronic impoverishment by inflicting losses from which the people cannot recover.

For further background information on project details visit the IBLI website and associates ILRI stories

Innovation network platforms to overcome fodder scarcity

In this short video, Ranjitha Puskur from ILRI shares some lessons emerging from the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project.

The project looks at fodder scarcity and how to address it, but from the perspectives of capacities, policies and institutions.

This current second phase of the project, she says, emerged from the realisation that the availability of technologies is not really the limiting factor, policy and institutional factors are the major bottlenecks.

She briefly introduces the innovation systems approach that underpins the project: Essentially, the aim is to form and facilitate a network of different actors in a chain or continuum of knowledge production and its use, mobilizing all their various resources and capacities to address a problem.

What outcomes and changes has she seen?

At the farm level, farmers are changing their livestock feeding and management practices; there is an emerging demand for technologies, inputs and services that, ironically, were earlier promoted without success.

“Farmers are seeing the need for knowledge and can articulate demands to service providers.”

She emphasizes that “getting a network of actors isn’t an easy process, it takes time”. Different organizations with different interests and motives have to be brought around the table to contribute and benefit.

“It needs great facilitation skills and negotiating skills which are not very often core competences of researchers like us.”

Beyond facilitation of this network formation, “we also see that linkages don’t happen automatically” … we need a facilitating or broker organisation to create them.

In her project, they work through key partner organisations: “This works well, but they needed much support and mentoring from us.”

She concludes with two final observations: Policies are a very critical factor and it is important to engage policy makers from the outset, ensuring that we know what they really want, and that the evidence base is solid.

Traditional project management approaches don’t seem to work in such projects: We need nimble financial management, and very responsive project management.

“Very traditional logframes and M&E systems seem very inadequate.”

See her presentation with Alan Duncan

More information on this project

View the video:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2966873&dest=-1]

Vaccine agency to reduce loss of human and animal life in developing countries is launched

The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) recently unveiled animal health projects it will tackle over the next ten years.

GALVmed announced progress on vaccine and treatments for Newcastle disease in poultry and East Coast fever and Rift Valley fever in cattle at its international launch at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), in Nairobi, on Friday 9 March 2007. This marked the beginning of a 10-year program aimed at creating sustainable solutions to the loss of human and animal life caused by livestock diseases, which threaten 600 million of the poorest people in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

GALVmed, a non-profit organization funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is partnering with private and public-sector organizations around the world. It has identified 13 livestock diseases as key targets for development of livestock vaccines and animal health diagnostics and medicines. Founder members of the agency include the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), FARM-Africa, Pfizer, Intervet and Merial. GALVmed exists to broker partnerships among pharmaceutical companies and other public and private-sector organizations to develop accessible and affordable animal vaccines for the whole world’s poorest farmers.

Zoonotic diseases, which are transmitted between animals and humans, mainly afflict the poorest households, as evidenced by the recent outbreak of Rift Valley fever in livestock in Kenya, which killed 150 people. Brian Perry, a senior scientist at ILRI, warns that ‘Today, combating livestock diseases is everybody’s business – tropical animal diseases are no longer “just a local problem”. For example, there is a threat that diseases like Rift Valley fever will follow bluetongue into Europe.’

GALVmed’s chief executive Steve Sloan explains that ‘Every year, poor farmers worldwide lose an average of a quarter and in some cases half, of their herds and flocks to preventable disease. This devastates developing economies. Many of these are zoonotic and so also cause human deaths.

Livestock play a critical role in helping people escape poverty. Livestock disease is one of the greatest barriers to development for poor livestock keepers. Flocks and herds die every year from diseases for which vaccine simply do not exist or are beyond the reach of the poor. John McDermott, ILRI’s deputy director general for research says, ‘ILRI scientists and partners have done ground breaking science to develop an experimental vaccines to protect cattle against East Coast fever. The next steps are to conduct trials to facilitate the delivery of this vaccine to the farmers. To do that, we need specialist partners who will test, manufacture and market the vaccine and make it accessible and affordable to the thousands of livestock keepers afflicted by this cattle killing disease.

Click here for the GALVmed News release.

To find out more about GALVmed visit the website

Climate change research by ILRI informs Stern Review on the economics of climate change

Livestock systems analysts pinpoint communities most vulnerable to the double threat of climate change and severe poverty.
In July 2005, the British finance minister asked Sir Nicholas Stern to lead a major review of the economics of climate change, to understand more comprehensively the nature of the economic challenges and how they can be met in the UK and globally. Stern is a Head of the Government Economics Service and Adviser to the Government on the economics of climate change and development. The report calls for urgent action on climate change and a raft of new ‘green’ measures were announced at the launch of the report earlier this week.

Innovative analyses by agricultural systems analysts working at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partner institutions were used in development of the seminal Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change, published on 30 October 2006 and available online at  http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/Independent_Reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_index.cfm)

A report ILRI published in August 2006 for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa, as well as an earlier study by two of the leading authors of the report, ‘The potential impacts of climate change on maize production in Africa and Latin America in 2055’ (written by Peter Jones and Philip Thornton and published in Global Environmental Change in 2003) are cited in part 2 of the Stern Review.

ILRI produced its 200-page Mapping Climate Variability report in partnership with the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and The Energy Research Institute (TERI). Mapping Climate Vulnerability locates the African communities likely to be most vulnerable to the double threats of climate change and poverty. Regions likely to be hurt by climate change include the mixed arid-semiarid systems in the Sahel; arid-semiarid rangeland systems, the Great Lakes and Coastal regions of eastern Africa; and many drier zones of southern Africa.

Several other high-level assessments are using ILRI’s report and maps. These include a report of a UK Foresight project on Detection and Identification of Infectious Diseases in April 2006, the July 2006 UK White Paper on International Development, and an August 2006 review draft of the IAASTD Global Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development).

These reports stress that farmers in many places will need to adapt to climate change, by investing in alternative crops and livestock, adjusting their management regimes, or by diversifying their income-generating activities (particularly off-farm activities). Raising awareness about the possible impact of climate change, and improving consultation between all levels of government and civil society, will be essential.

The Stern Review argues that climate change could devastate the global economy on a scale of the two world wars and the depression of the 1930s if left unchecked. Introducing the report by Nicholas Stern, the British Government also said Monday that the benefits of coordinated action around the world to tackle global warming will greatly outweigh any financial costs.

Sir Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist at the World Bank, who oversaw production of the 700-page report commissioned by the British Government, concludes that ignoring climate change could lead to huge economic upheaval.

‘Our actions over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century,’ he said. The report said global warming could result in melting glaciers, rising sea levels, falling crop yields, drinking water shortages, higher death tolls from malnutrition and heat stress, and outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever.

And richer nations must be prepared to pay more than poor ones to counter their higher emissions output, for example by green taxes or carbon trading schemes.

The poor countries will be hit earliest and hardest . . . It is only right that the rich countries should pay a little more,’ Stern said.
The report spells out key elements of future international frameworks, which include:

  • Technology cooperation: Informal co-ordination as well as formal agreements can boost the effectiveness of investments in innovation around the world.
  • Adaptation: The poorest countries are most vulnerable to climate change. It is essential that climate change be fully integrated into development policy, and that rich countries honour their pledges to increase support through overseas
  • development assistance. International funding should also support improved regional information on climate change impacts, and research into new crop varieties that will be more resilient to drought and flood.Key messages from the section of the Stern Review informed by ILRI’s systems research are provided below. For the full section or book, go to ILRI’s latest research findings on climate change, Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa, published in July 2006, are found on ILRI’s website in full at: The conclusions are reproduced in a briefing of the same title found at:

Mapping climate vulnerability and poverty in Africa: Where are the hot spots of climate change and household vulnerability?

Sometimes the answer to the question ‘Why?’ can come first from answering the question ‘Where?’

John Snow’s nineteenth century map of the incidences of cholera in London showed a cluster of cases around a particular water pump—which turned out to be a source of the outbreak. Now research groups have published maps showing the locations of African communities likely to be most vulnerable to the double threats of climate change and poverty. These maps, part of a 200-page report to the UK Department for International Development (DFID) published this month (August 2006) by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), graphically show that there are many vulnerable regions of sub-Saharan Africa that are likely to be adversely affected by climate change. These include the mixed arid-semiarid systems in the Sahel, arid-semiarid rangeland systems in parts of eastern Africa, the systems in the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, the coastal regions of eastern Africa, and many of the drier zones of southern Africa.

Poverty maps are nothing new. Philip Thornton, the senior author of this report and an agricultural systems analyst at ILRI, has previously led an ILRI team in developing maps of poverty and livestock in the developing world, which led to higher-resolution poverty maps being developed for Kenya and Uganda. These maps attempt to identify climate change – vulnerability hotspots in sub-Saharan Africa, to help DFID and other donors decide where they might locate specific research activities and where to put in place uptake pathways for research outputs.

These maps do not, like Snow’s water pump, disclose the causes of climate change or poverty, but they do provide aid agencies and policymakers with early warning about which African communities and farming systems are most in need of urgent attention to forestall future calamity.

As the world’s climate continues to change at an unprecedented rate, the impacts of climate change are likely to be considerable in Africa as well as other tropical developing regions. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa currently have limited capacity to adapt to changing climate and increased probabilities of extreme events such as drought or flood.Considerable investments are needed to build local adaptive capacity so that countries are better able to respond to the challenges that climate change presents.

In partnership with the African Centre for Technology Studies and The Energy Research Institute, ILRI conducted a study commissioned by DFID to map climate vulnerability and poverty in Africa. ILRI published the results of this study in August 2006.

Several high-level governmental and inter-governmental papers and assessments are already using the ILRI-DFID study and resulting maps. These include report of a UK Foresight project on Detection and Identification of Infectious Diseases in April 2006, the July 2006 UK White Paper on International Development, and an August 2006 review draft of the IAASTD Global Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development). These reports stress that farmers in many places will need to adapt to climate change, by investing in alternative crops and livestock, adjusting their management regimes, or by diversifying their income-generating activities (particularly off-farm activities). Raising awareness about the possible impact of climate change, and improving consultation between all levels of government and civil society, will be essential.

The work has highlighted several key points. One is that there is such heterogeneity in household access to resources, poverty levels and ability to cope that vulnerability assessments increasingly need to be done at regional and national levels rather than the continental-level analysis written up here. Second, local responses to climate change need to be dynamic — adaptation to climate change needs to be seen as a dynamic and continuous process rather than as a one-off activity. Third, while climate change impacts may be considerable in particular places, it is only one of several elements that affect smallholders and their livelihood options. The interactions between climate change and human health, for example, are likely to have enormous consequences on livelihoods and will only add to the burdens of those who are already poor and vulnerable.

The result of the new study conducted for DFID is a book-length report published by ILRI in August 2006, Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa.

To view the entire electronic version of the book, click to open:

To view the book by chapter, go to:

Executive Summary
Objectives and activities
Climate impacts in sub-Saharan Africa
Poverty and vulnerability
User needs
References and Acronyms
o Note 1: Indicators of adaptive capacity
Note 2: South-south cooperation
Note 3: Climate change & health in Africa: incidence of vector-borne diseases & HIV/AIDS
Note 4: The climate, development, and poverty nexus in Africa
Note 5: The Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme
Note 6: The ASARECA priority setting work
Note 7: The SLP’s food-feed impact assessment framework
Note 8: The SAKSS poverty targeting tool
Note 9:
Simulating regional production with crop models

BBC World Service features Kenya’s dairy story

The third edition of the BBC World Service series Small is Beautiful will be broadcast on Thursday 6th April and this week looks at Kenya's highly successful informal dairy sector.
The BBC series is examining the future of small business and which types of businesses will survive in the long term. In a world that seems to be dominated by big corporations, will it be the big businesses that produce high quantities at least cost that will survive, or the smaller ones?

The series Small is Beautiful takes its inspiration from a book published thirty years ago by the famous economist E.F. Schumacher. In his book, “Small is Beautiful”, Schumacher argued that small business is better for people, better for national economies and better for the environment.

This week you can hear about Kenya’s thriving milk industry. The programme will be broadcast at 09.30 and 17.30 on BBC FM in Nairobi on Thursday 6th April, or you can listen online at the BBC website from 10.06 GMT Thursday 6th April. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/one_planet.shtml

Previous broadcasts in the BBC World Service Small is Beautiful series looked at the producers of Parma Ham in Italy and banana producers of the Caribbean.

Key drivers of the informal dairy sector in Kenya
Kenyans love milk! They consume more of it than almost anyone else in the developing world. On average, each Kenyan drinks about 100 kilograms of milk a year, four times the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the milk bought is raw milk supplied by the informal dairy sector. Mostly because of higher price, processed pasteurized milk is consumed in much smaller amounts, except in Nairobi. Studies indicate that the formal market will grow only as household incomes increase. Thus, the informal market is likely to predominate for many years to come, as it is driven by demand from mostly poor consumers.

There are several reasons why raw milk is so popular in Kenya:

  • Raw milk is 20 to 50 percent cheaper than pasteurized milk, as its supply involves fewer costs
  • Many prefer the taste and high buttermilk content of raw milk
  • Raw milk can be sold in variable quantities, allowing even very poor households access to some milk
  • In areas where transport is poor, it is often easier to find a farmer with a cow than a shop with packaged milk
  • It is traditional that raw milk is boiled before consumption, and consumers feel justifiably that simply boiling raw milk removes most health hazards.

ILRI and partners recognise the roles played by both the informal and formal dairy sectors and have long been advocating for policies that support the harmonious coexistence of the two sectors and their further development in the medium term, while aiming for growth in the formal sector in the longer term.

The Kenya Smallholder Dairy Project
The highly successful Kenyan Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) was jointly implemented by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). SDP carried out research and development activities to support sustainable improvements to the livelihoods of poor Kenyans through their participation in the dairy sub-sector. Learn more about Kenya’s unique dairy industry through a series of briefs produced by SDP.

SDP Policy Brief 1

SDP Policy Brief 2

SDP Policy Brief 3

SDP Policy Brief 4

SDP Policy Brief 5

SDP Policy Brief 6

SDP Policy Brief 7

SDP Policy Brief 8

SDP Policy Brief 9

SDP Policy Brief 10

SDP was led by the Ministry with primary funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). SDP worked with many collaborators, including government and regulatory bodies, the private sector and civil society organizations. By combining the research capacity of KARI and ILRI with the experience and networks of the Ministry, SDP provided high-quality and wide-ranging research information to support smallholder dairy farmers, market agents, stakeholders and policy-makers from 1997 to 2005.
For more information go to the SDP website at www.smallholderdairy.org

Biosciences for development

Today the spotlight is on European partners in livestock biosciences for development.
European donors and research institutions working in partnership with ILRI and other CGIAR Centres to speed up agricultural development in poor countries will be highlighted at a breakfast meeting at the 2005 World Bank Sustainable Development European Forum entitled ‘Managing Ecosystems and Social Vulnerabilities in the 21st Century: Towards a More Secure World’, to be held in Paris on 14-15 June 2005. The Forum provides an opportunity to update European bilateral donors on the strategy and work program for the World Bank’s Environmentally & Socially Sustainable Vice Presidency. A significant portion of the agenda is reserved for in-depth, issues-based break-out sessions.

Examples of ILRI projects with European partners are summarized below.

Saving Africa’s unique indigenous cattle breeds critical to its poorest people
In 1998, with funding from Ireland Aid and other European donors, the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) teamed up with Trinity College, Dublin, to analyse the genetic diversity of indigenous African cattle populations. This project completed molecular diversity datasets from the two centres, unravelled the genetic make-up of African cattle and identified priority cattle breeds for conservation or utilization for the benefit of the farmer communities. The project also helped nations develop strategies for conserving these animals and broadening their use. The project supported evidence that the African continent was a likely center of origin of cattle pastoralism. The latter award-winning research, published in the leading research journal Science, raised awareness of the genetic wealth of Africa’s indigenous cattle populations. African countries are now taking steps to conserve, characterize and make better use of them.

A public-private partnership for technological innovation against a lethal African cattle disease
The East Coast fever vaccine project is an initiative funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to design and disseminate a bio-engineered vaccine against a parasite that kills cattle across eastern, central, and southern Africa. A complex set of partnerships between public and private sectors across several continents, including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Kenya, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, in Belgium, and the University of Oxford, UK, has played an important role in moving the science forward. The multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company Merial, headquartered in France, is helping to produce the vaccine for trial and will be responsible for the delivery of the vaccine among poor countries. A high degree of complementarity exists between the major partners. ILRI has reached an advanced state of research on the protozoan parasite that causes East Coast fever, bovine immunology and the economic impacts of the disease. Merial produces the vaccine candidates and has been working with Oxford on novel delivery system with potential spin-offs for other human and veterinary vaccines. The project is an example of conceiving and funding a ‘system of innovation’ within the CGIAR, one which cuts across research institutions in new ways, building capacity across the widest possible spread of partners, including NARS.

Conserving a unique genetic resource and way of life among Ankole pastoralists in East Africa
In late 2003, with funding from Austria, scientists from the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the BOKU University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, in Austria, launched a project to identify indigenous selection criteria and genetic diversity in African longhorn Ankole cattle. The results of this project will improve and sustain the livelihoods of poor Ankole cattle keepers in the four East African countries where these unique cattle are found: Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. Specifically, the project is facilitating community-based delivery of technical interventions that are genetically improving this breed to meet the needs of their pastoral owners. In the process, the project will help the pastoral communities sustain their environment and culture as well as the genetic diversity of their breed. Indigenous knowledge of animal husbandry and breeding are being captured, as well as selection criteria used by the pastoralists to assess intangible values of their unique Ankole genetic resources.

Development of a second-generation anti-tick vaccine
In late 2004, the Swiss Centre for International Agriculture (ZIL) began funding a project conducted jointly by the Swiss Tropical Institute (Basel), Pevion Biotech (Bern), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI, Nairobi), to develop an anti-tick vaccine to control ticks and tick-borne diseases of tropical cattle. Current tick-control methods rely on regular treatments of animals with acaracides, which kill the ticks. Development of an anti-tick vaccine is one of the most promising alternatives to chemical control, being much safer for the environment and human health. The only commercial vaccine against ticks currently on the market, based on a hidden tick-gut antigenic molecule, requires a series of inoculations to boost the vaccine’s effectiveness. This project is developing a novel antigen-delivery system for use in cattle using virosomes. The aim is to improve the efficiency, handling, user friendliness and cost of the existing vaccine for smallholder farmers. The technology platform developed for the new vaccine may be applied in future against a range of livestock diseases.