The case for index-based livestock insurance and cash payments for northern Kenya’s pastoralists

Training livestock herders in Marsabit in new insurance scheme available

ILRI is working with insurance companies to train livestock herders in Kenya’s northern drylands in the benefits and costs of a new index-based livestock insurance first made available in Marsabit District in 2010 (photo credit: ILRI/Mude).

On the second day of a ‘Future of Pastoralism in Africa’ Conference, being held this week (21–23 March 2011) in Addis Ababa at the campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a panel session focused on new approaches for strengthening pastoralist livelihoods and social protection.

With decades of food aid delivery having demonstrably failed to significantly improve the livelihood prospects of Africa’s poorer pastoralists, aid agencies and governments alike are rethinking their approaches to ways of delivering aid to pastoralists. But do safety net schemes serve as life-savers or do they lock destitute pastoralists into unsustainable livelihoods? Should donors and governments help destitute pastoralists exit pastoral livelihoods? Should they help provide livestock insurance schemes?

Andrew Mude, an ILRI scientist, spoke about an index-based livestock insurance innovation that has been instituted, in partnership with UAP Insurance and Equity Bank, for pastoral herders in Marsabit District, in northern Kenya’s great drylands. This is the first insurance ever offered the Samburu, Gabra, Rendille, Borana, Turkana and other traditional herders here, who cope with variable weather by traditionally moving their stock to find new grazing when the grass in a given area is finished.

The risk covered by this insurance is periodic drought that dries up the natural rangeland vegetation, which supplies most of the feed for the pastoral cattle, sheep, goats and camels of the region, leading to many livestock deaths. Insurance payouts are made, to those who have bought annual insurance contracts, when the available forage in Marsabit District in that year drops below a level at which more than 15 per cent of the livestock would be expected to perish from starvation.

Before the ILRI team could convince commercial companies that this is a viable product, they had to convince the prospective pastoralist clients of that. So ILRI researchers invented insurance games that help livestock herders understand what the insurance covers, and what it does not, and when insurance payouts will be made, and when they will not.

Asked whether livestock insurance isn’t just another popular idea likely to fail, Mude said, ‘I wouldn’t stake my professional reputation on index livestock insurance working, but I would stake my reputation on the processes we are using to monitor the effectiveness and impacts of this new product. In fact, my team has put a “pause” on expanding livestock insurance in Kenya while we see how it goes, although we are introducing livestock insurance in Ethiopia so as to see how it does here, under different conditions.’

In the meantime, Mude’s team is monitoring the effectiveness and impacts of livestock insurance in Marsabit by following 900 households, which they first interviewed in 2009 and then again last year; they’ll continue to monitor these households over the next four years to determine if the product should be made more widely available.

The next expert to speak was Stephen Devereux, who leads a pilot Hunger Safety Net Program providing cash transfers to the people in northern Kenya’s chronically food insecure areas of Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir districts. The payments are designed to meet basic subsistence needs. The program uses the local private sector—banks and shops—to deliver the cash to the local people.

The Hunger Safety Net Program aims to provide social assistance, insurance and justice. The first thing Devereux’s team had to consider was whether the program’s social protection should address poverty or vulnerability. The conventional way to define poverty is lack of resources, while vulnerability is characterized by uninsured risk and marginalization is a matter of lacking a voice in decision-making.

The rates of both poverty and hunger in these districts are high. Only the rich eat three times a day. Middle-income families eat just twice a day, the poor only once a day, and the very poor sometimes do not eat at all in 24 hours.

Food aid is the conventional response to prolonged drought in these as well as other pastoral areas. But food aid is not enough, and tends to be diluted through sharing. The nutritional status of children in drought-afflicted districts, moreover, was found to be alarming in 2006, for example, a full year following a drought and despite massive injections of food aid.

Among the design challenges of this social assistance is how to best target those to receive this aid: are women, for example, more responsible as well as more vulnerable? Conflicts occurring between pastoralist communities in this region are a great problem, and the food price crisis is also hurting the efficacy of this program, which can no longer provide sufficient cash to maintain adequate nutritional levels. Another worry is that the program may be trapping people in unviable livelihoods while they wait to receive benefits (some families might be better off exiting pastoralism altogether).

Complementary interventions—so-called ‘cash plus’ systems—are needed to help build resilience in these communities, said Devereux. ‘A useful integrated approach would combine cash payments with services such as livestock insurance, as is being done by ILRI and its partners in Marsabit.’

For more information, see previous postings on the ILRI News Blog:

The future of pastoralism in Africa debated in Addis: Irreversible decline or vibrant future?, 21 March 2011.

Climate change impacts on pastoralists in the Horn: Transforming the ‘crisis narrative’, 22 March 2011.

Or visit the Future Agricultures Consortium website conference page or blog.

The future of pastoralism in Africa debated in Addis: Irreversible decline or vibrant future?

Maasai man takes his goats out for a day's grazing

A Maasai man takes his goats out in the early morning for a day’s grazing in northern Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

An international conference deliberating the future of pastoralists in Africa is taking place this week (21–23 March  2011) at the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Big changes are occurring in, and to, Africa’s vast pastoral regions. Livestock herders’ access to resources, options for mobility and opportunities for marketing are all evolving fast. Is there, the organizers of this conference ask, opportunity for a productive, vibrant, market-oriented livelihood system or will pastoralist areas remain a backwater of underdevelopment, marginalization and severe poverty?

The Future Agricultures Consortium, an alliance of agricultural development researchers and practitioners that facilitates policy dialogues and debates on the role of agriculture in broad-based African growth, and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, which also has a mixed staff of development researchers and practitioners, have jointly organized this conference to share new learning about ongoing change and innovation in Africa’s pastoral areas.

One of the aims of the conference organizers is to shift the crisis narrative that so often dominates news and discussions of pastoralists in Africa. As noted on the Future Agricultures Consortium website: ‘Frequently depicted as in crisis, pastoralists are changing the way they live and work in response to new opportunities and threats revealing the resilience that pastoralists have demonstrated for millennia. Accessing new markets and innovating solutions to safeguard incomes, this often misunderstood and marginalised community is re-positioning itself to make the most of the East African economy. . . .

‘The pastoralist way of life—synonymous with irreversible decline, ‘crises’ and aid rescues—is poorly understood. And whilst the words ‘pastoralism’ and ‘crisis’ have become fused in the minds of many, there are positive signs of vibrant pastoralist livelihoods that debunk the usual reportage of pastoralists depicted as insecure, vulnerable and destitute. . . .

‘Failed by generations of unsuccessful state development plans and aid strategies, pastoralists have been let down because the real problems and issues they face have not been taken into account. A more accurate understanding of the processes of change happening within pastoralist areas, which are significant and complex, has been obscured by the perpetuated myths of pastoralism in crisis.

‘Understanding the complexity and potential for pastoralism is crucial to informing policies for securing the future of this age-old and resilient sector in sub-Saharan Africa.’

Hot topics
The new research and practical experiences being shared at this conference are on the following hot topics in academic and development research.
Regional pastoralist policies (and the politics of pastoralist policy)
Mobility and the sustainability of pastoralist production systems
Impacts of climate change on pastoralism
Commercializing pastoralism through better markets and trade
Delivering basic health, education and veterinary services to pastoralists
New approaches for strengthening pastoralist livelihoods and social protection systems
Alternative livelihoods and exit strategies for pastoralists
Pastoralist views of land grabbing and land tenure
Pastoralist innovations
How conflicts are affecting pastoralist development in the Horn of Africa
The place, and potential, of youth and women in pastoralist societies

Researchers, policymakers, field practitioners and donor representatives at this conference are assessing the present and future challenges to African pastoralism so as to begin to define new research and policy agendas.

For more information, visit the Future Agricultures Consortium website conference page or blog and revisit this ILRI News blog.

New program aims to spur state-of-the-art biosciences innovation to fight food insecurity, climate change and environmental degradation across eastern Africa

Bio-Innovate launch: Swedish Embassy's Bjorn Haggmark

Launched today at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Bioresources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development (Bio-Innovate) program will support the fight against food insecurity in eastern Africa (photo credit: ILRI/MacMillan).

A new program that provides grants to bioscientists working to improve food production and environmental management in eastern Africa was launched today at the Nairobi headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The newly established Bioresources Innovation Network for Eastern Africa Development (Bio-Innovate) Program—the first of its kind in Africa—provides competitive grants to African researchers who are working with the private sector and non-governmental organizations to find ways to improve food security, boost resilience to climate change and identify environmentally sustainable ways of producing food.

In its first three-year phase, the program is supporting five research-based projects working to improve the productivity of sorghum, millet, cassava, sweet potato, potato and bean farmers; to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change; to improve the processing of wastes in the production of sisal and coffee; and to better treat waste water generated in leather processing and slaughterhouse operations.

In its second three-year phase, beginning mid-2011, Bio-Innovate will help build agricultural commodity ‘value chains’ in the region and a supportive policy environment for bioresource innovations.

The five-year program is funded by a USD12-million grant from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). Bio-Innovate is managed by ILRI and co-located within the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BeCA) Hub at ILRI’s Nairobi campus. Bio-Innovate will be implemented in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

‘By emphasizing innovations to help drive crop production in the six partner countries, Bio-Innovate is working at the heart of one of the region’s greatest challenges—that of providing enough food in the face of climate change, diversifying crops and addressing productivity constraints that are threatening the livelihoods of millions,’ said Carlos Seré, ILRI’s director general.

An increasingly large number of poor people in the developing world are hungry, or, in development-speak, ‘food insecure.’ In sub-Saharan Africa, where agricultural production relies on rainfed smallholder farming, hunger, environmental degradation and climate change present a triple threat to individual, community and national development. In eastern Africa alone, over 100 million people depend on agriculture to meet their fundamental economic and nutritional needs.

Although some three-quarters of the African population are involved in farming or herding, investment in African agricultural production has continued to lag behind population growth rates for several decades, with the result that the continent has been unable to achieve sustainable economic and social development.

‘Bioresources research and use is key to pro-poor economic growth,’ says Seyoum Leta, Bio-Innovate’s program manager. ‘By focusing on improving the performance of crop agriculture and agro-processing, and by adding value to primary production, we can help build a more productive and sustainable regional bioresources-based economy.’

Bio-Innovate works closely with the African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD) and its new Planning and Coordinating Agency, as well as with the councils and commissions for science and technology in eastern Africa, to encourage adoption of advances in biosciences. The program builds on AU/NEPAD’s Consolidated Plan of Action for Africa’s Science and Technology and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

‘African governments are appreciating the importance of regional collaboration,’ says Ibrahim Mayaki, the chief executive officer of NEPAD. ‘Collaborations such as this, in science and technology, will enable the continent to adapt to the rapid advances and promises of modern biosciences.’

Bio-Innovate has already established partnerships with higher learning institutions and national agricultural research organizations, international agricultural research centres and private industries working both within and outside eastern Africa.

‘Bio-Innovate is an important platform for pooling eastern African expertise and facilities through a regional Bioresources Innovations Network,’ says Claes Kjellström, Bio-Innovate Sida representative at the Embassy of Sweden in Nairobi. ‘We believe this program will enable cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary biosciences research and enhance innovations and policies that will advance agricultural development in the region.’

The Bio-Innovate team is working with these partners to help guide development and adoption of homegrown bioscience policies in its partner countries and to spread knowledge of useful applications of bioscience. In the coming years, Bio-Innovate staff envision eastern Africa becoming a leading region in the use of biotechnology research and approaches for better food production and environmental management.

Some presentations from today’s launch:

More information about Bio-Innovate:
Short Blip TV clips

Three interviews of Seyoum Leta, Bio-Innovate program manager:

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882255/

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882101/

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4881914/

Four interviews of Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to ILRI’s director general:

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882211/

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882005/

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882481/

http://ilri.blip.tv/file/4882486/

Website:

http://bioinnovate-africa.org/

Pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilri/sets/72157624891160295/

New Bio-Innovate Program is good news for bio-scientists in ‘bio-rich’ eastern Africa

A new program called Bio-Innovate, which stands for ‘Bioresources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development,’ is being launched tomorrow (Wednesday 16 March 2011) at the Nairobi, Kenya, campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), Bio-Innovate offers competitive funding for biosciences and innovations in six countries of eastern Africa through a Bioresources Innovation Fund. The program accepts applications for regional, multi-disciplinary innovation projects in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

More than 80 people—including scientists, policymakers, development practitioners and staff from private companies, donor agencies and diplomatic missions—are expected to participate. They represent national agricultural research organizations and universities, national councils for science and technology, regional bodies and international organizations from within and outside the region.

We interviewed two of the key people, Seyoum Leta, Bio-Innovate’s program manager, and Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to ILRI’s director general, to tell us what Bio-Innovate is all about. Watch these short interviews below.

And follow the launch tomorrow on the web using the search term #BioInnAfrica2011.

Bio-Innovate Bean Technology Consortium

Seyoum Leta, Bio-Innovate program manager, is interviewed in the following brief films.

Film 1—Bio-Innovate: Addressing the missing link between research and innovation
East Africa has never had the facilities, funding or skilled manpower to undertake agricultural science on a scale that could move from research all the way to new technologies for farmers. Bio-Innovate is a new program aiming to provide that ‘missing link’. It will tackle the big regional problems such as climate change results, and environmental degradation, by the application of bio-sciences, with the direct aim of helping small-scale farmers.

Film 2Over 3 million farmers could benefit from the first projects of a new initiative
Small-scale farmers in 6 East African countries will be the first in the region to benefit from the new Bio-Innovate program. The first projects in the scheme will tackle challenges like the development of more productive varieties of staple crops, and waste re-cycling. Over the next 5 years, the numbers of projects will expand, using Bio-Innovate’s promotion of improvements in policy frameworks, its networks of scientists and research organizations, and the novel links it is building with private sector companies.

Film 3Launching a unique African-based and African-led program on innovations and policy analysis in eastern Africa
16 March 2011 is the official launch date for Bio-Innovate, a unique regional agricultural research initiative that is Africa based, Africa led and focuses on innovations for farmers.

Gabrielle Persley, Senior Advisor to the Director General

Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to ILRI’s director general, is interviewed in the following brief films.

Film 4New phase of African Bio-Innovate Program will soon deliver solutions to farmers
Bio-Innovate is building on a previous project that trained 20 regionally recruited bioscientists to PhD level. Now the new program plans to move from research outputs into partnerships with private sector players and other delivery mechanisms. The real focus and the success of Bio-Innovate will be delivery of products to African farmers.

Film 5New science program makes use of facilities and expertise at the first biosciences hub in Africa
The choice of location for the headquarters of Bio-Innovate depended on access to the best bioscience facilities and expertise in the region. The Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, at the ILRI Nairobi campus, provides a vibrant biosciences research platform for advanced research into crops and livestock.

Film 6Bioscience support plus field trials will lead to the development of practical technologies for farmers
Core elements of the work of the Bio-Innovate projects will be done in the field. Through building partnerships within the participating countries, national research programs and the local private sector, evaluation of potential products in the field and scaling up can be targeted to local needs.

Film 7Large African bioscience-based agricultural project targets key famine-type foods and environments
Funding of USD10 million over 5 years will allow projects sponsored by Bio-Innovate to reach the critical mass of financial, agricultural and research resources needed to tackle large-scale regional challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation. In this way Bio-Innovate will help improve food supplies and incomes for small-scale farmers.

Traditional knowledge key to managing outbreaks of Rift Valley fever: Study points out important role livestock keepers play in veterinary surveillance

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya. Cattle and people both can be infected with Rift Valley fever (Photo credit: R Dolan)

Livestock researchers say the traditional knowledge of local pastoralists in East Africa needs to be included in programs to better control livestock diseases in the region.

Somali and Maasai herder early warning systems both were key in identifying the risk factors and symptoms of Rift Valley fever in an outbreak in 2006/7.

Rift Valley fever is an acute viral zoonosis spread by mosquitoes. It primarily affects domestic livestock such as cattle, camels, sheep and goats, but can also infect, and kill, people, especially those handling infected animals.

First isolated in humans in the Rift Valley region of Kenya in 1930, until the 1970s Rift Valley fever was reported mainly in southern and eastern Africa, primarily Kenya, where it was considered an animal disease, despite sporadic human cases. But after the 1970s, explosive outbreaks occurred in human populations throughout Africa, Indian Ocean states and the Arabian Peninsula. Epidemics in Egypt in 1977/8 and in Kenya in 1997/8 each killed several hundred people. Another outbreak in Kenya in 2006/7 killed more than 100 people.

In East Africa, Rift Valley fever outbreaks have coincided with heavy rainfall and local flooding, which can lead to expansion of mosquito populations. In an assessment made to review lessons from the 2006/7 outbreak in East Africa carried out by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Kenyan and Tanzanian departments of veterinary services, researchers found that Somali pastoralists of northeastern Kenya accurately assessed the likelihood of an outbreak based on their assessments of key risk factors, and they did so long before veterinary and public health interventions began. The study also looked at the experiences of Maasai herders of northern Tanzania, who accurately recognized symptoms such as high abortion rates as indicating the presence of the infection in their herds.

Among the environmental factors the Somali communities noticed as likely to lead to an outbreak is an increase in rainfall (usually accompanied by floods) and an increase in mosquitoes. Both preceded the 2006/7 outbreak and had been present in the last outbreak of Rift Valley fever in the region in 1997/8. The Somalis also accurately associated a ‘bloody nose’, or Sandik, in their animals with Rift Valley fever.

The role of this traditional knowledge in predicting Rift Valley fever is the subject of a paper, ‘Epidemiological assessment of the Rift Valley fever outbreak in Kenya and Tanzania in 2006 and 2007’, published in the August 2010 supplement of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The authors say that Somali pastoralists are particularly able to predict not only the symptoms of Rift Valley fever in their animals but also the likelihood of an outbreak of the disease. Indeed, observations by local communities in risk-prone areas were often more timely and definitive than the global early warning systems in use at the time of the 2006/7 outbreak.

‘Timely outbreak response requires effective early warning and surveillance systems. This study points out the important role that livestock keepers can play in veterinary surveillance,’ the authors say.

As a result of the experiences of the 2007 outbreak, the authors recommend adopting new forecasting models and surveillance systems ‘that place more emphasis on climatic information [to] increase the lead time before events and enhance the ability of decision-makers to take timely action.’

The researchers also say that outbreaks of Rift Valley fever could be managed better if disease control workers were able to run models that combined economic with epidemiologic factors. With such models, they could better determine the benefits of implementing various disease surveillance and control methods, and the best times to implement each method selected for each circumstance.

This piece is adapted from the article New journal article: An assessment of the regional and national socio-economic impacts of the 2007 Rift Valley fever outbreak in Kenya by Tezira Lore, communications specialist for ILRI’s Markets Theme.

To read the complete report and its recommendations please visit http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/content/abstract/83/2_Suppl/65/

A related ILRI news article addresses the full effects of the 2006/7 Rift Valley fever outbreak in East Africa, including the national and regional socioeconomic impacts of the outbreak and its effects on human and animal health.

Three ways to tackle Napier grass diseases in East Africa

An ASARECA-funded Napier grass smut and stunt resistance project held its final workshop on 2 and 3 June 2010 at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It gathered 30 participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, UK, and Ethiopia.

During the workshop, participants shared three main ways to tackle these diseases that attack an important feed for cattle: One is to identify alternative forage species. The second is to raise awareness of the disease and better management methods among farmers. The third is to control the vectors causing the diseases or to breed disease-resistant grasses.

It all started in 2007, when ASARECA – the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, the International Livestock Research Institute, Rothamsted Research, Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, National Agricultural Research Organisation (Uganda) and the National Biological Control Programme (Tanzania) launched a three year project to examine the problems.

The project brought together scientists from national and international institutes to find ways to halt the spread of the diseases that affect Napier grass – an important feed source for dairy cattle in the region.

The project aimed to determine the extent of the disease problem in areas where smallholder dairy is important, to collect Napier grass clones that farmers select as more resistant to the diseases and to identify best management practices used by farmers to reduce the impact of the diseases.

With the vision and financial support of ASARECA, this project has characterized Napier grass clones, developed diagnostic techniques for use in the region, and formed local partnerships to share information and management practices.

During the two day meeting, participants set out different approaches to fight the disease. One is to identify other alternative forage species.

“Before we were growing Guatemala grass, says Peter Ddaki, workshop participant and farmer in Kitenga, Uganda. It was less tasty and hard to cut but we could go back to it because if this disease is not fought, we go to poverty”. “It is true violence to me”, he adds. “From my cows, I have three things: urine, milk and manure. Well, they have all reduced. My suggestion to researchers is to think about Guatemala grass or other forages in case Napier grass dies away.”

Jolly Kabirizi, senior researcher at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) and project partner from Uganda is one of several researchers in the region looking more closely at other forages, such as the Brachiaria hybrid cv Mulato, and investigating feeding with crop residues. Jean Hanson, ILRI Forage diversity team leader, explains: “In this project we made the choice to focus on Napier grass and looked for a disease resistant variety of the same species because it is very difficult to find anything as productive as Napier and for farmers to change to other grasses for cut and carry systems. Guatemala grass does not have the same palatability as Napier grass, and Brachiara Mulato produces less biomass. We also carried on with research on Napier because its dissemination with cuttings is much easier than with the other grasses.”

Another approach is to raise awareness among farmers. Presentations showed that in the districts where the diseases were studied, over 80% of the farmers are now aware of the disease symptoms and adopt recommended best management practices. The incidence and severity of stunt especially, is really dropping (decline of 20 to 40% in Uganda and Kenya, more in Tanzania where it is an emerging disease) even though there is still a need to raise awareness to avoid spreading the disease. As Peter Ddaki puts it “don’t leave supervision of your garden to children or people who don’t know about the disease; use clean material when planting, or stunt will wipe out your entire crop.”

In Uganda, manure application seems to be the most effective control measure as it reduces Napier stunt incidence but also improves fodder yield. Similarly, in Tanzania and Kenya, a critical research area is the development of Integrated Pest Management.

A third approach is to look at the causes of the diseases and find ways to control the vectors or to breed disease-resistant grasses. Scientists from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Charles Midega and Evans Obura explained the importance of analyzing the biology of the disease and its vector. “Kenya is so far the only country where we identified a leafhopper vector (Maiestas (=Recilia) banda) transmitting Napier stunt disease”, says Evans Obura, Doctoral research fellow with ICIPE, “there could be other insects. We are at the moment working on identifying a phytoplasma (cause of the disease) resistant Napier grass cultivar and also studying the genetic diversity of Recilia banda in eastern Africa.”

But as Charles Midega pointed out: “if the resistant variety has high levels of resistance to the vector, where will the vector move to in the future? Food crops? And will food crops such as maize and millet be susceptible to phytoplasma?” This scary thought triggered numerous comments in the discussions.

On a positive note, Margaret Mulaa, senior researcher at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), has identified 28 clones that are not showing symptoms and appear disease resistant in the field in an area of high stunt incidence. These still need to be tested by farmers to confirm their yields and disease resistance before further distribution.

Fishbowl session at the Napier Grass diseases workshop Besides presentations, the workshop used participatory methods such as Fish Bowls and World cafes to encourage discussions. Facilitated with brio by Julius Nyangaga and Nadia Manning-Thomas, these lively sessions were sometimes new to participants and much appreciated. They particularly helped the project team interact with decision makers and regional stakeholders.

It was clear from the group discussions that the project created awareness, trained scientists, mentored graduate students, plus identified materials and set up efficient networks.

Alexandra Jorge, Coordinator of the Global Public Goods Project, commented on the progress made in the three year project: “It is amazing to see the amount of knowledge people have accumulated when you compare the first meeting I attended in 2007 and this one! I also notice the ownership and commitment participants feel about their work” and she adds “I was impressed with how much people involved did at all levels in only three years…”

In her closing remarks, Sarah Mubiru from ASARECA shared a story illustrating the power of collaboration: In her story, a man brought to God asks to see Hell and Heaven. In Hell, people have bowls of soup but spoons that are too long to drink with or eat from. In Heaven, people with the same bowls and long spoons feed each other. The first results in chaos, the second in harmony.

She said that ASARECA similarly prides itself on its partnerships, carrying out fruitful partner-based research that improves livelihoods. ASARECA funds projects that “work locally” and have regional impact through linkages and dissemination.

She concluded that this project has achieved that goal with strong national teams addressing local issues, working together across the region to support each other and using the website to make the project results available world wide.

These sentiments were reflected by ILRI Theme Director Shirley Tarawali: “The strong collaborative nature of this project will hopefully last after the end of the project”.

More:

View presentations, posters, reports and outputs from the workshop and the project

Read an article by Nadia Manning-Thomas on the knowledge sharing processes used in the workshop

Visit the project website

View photos from the workshop

Serengeti surely SHALL die if a proposed highway bisects its northern wilderness—and if its human neighbours remain poverty-stricken

Zebra and wildebeest in the Masai Mara Game Reserve

Zebra and wildebeest in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve (photo credit: ILRI/Elsworth).

The New York Times and other media are reporting this week that one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth—the annual migration of nearly 2 million wildebeest and zebra from the drying savannas of the Serengeti, in Tanzania, to the wetter, greener, pastures of Kenya’s adjacent Masai Mara, and back again—is threatened by a proposed new national transit road for northern Tanzania that would cut right across the migration route of these vast herds of ungulates, likely leading to the collapse of this migration and possibly the crash of this ecosystem as a whole.

Kenya’s Masai Mara is the only year-round water source in the Greater Serengeti, and thus serves as critical dry-season grazing grounds for these vast herds of big mammals.

Just one of the problems such a road would bring is a greater disease burden to people, livestock and wildlife alike. In her extensive and useful research notes to her recent article, ‘Road Kill in the Serengeti’, in the New York Times, Olivia Judson refers readers to a scientific paper written by Eric Fevre, of the Zoonotic and Emerging Diseases research group at the University of Edinburgh, now based at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya while working on a 3-year human-animal disease research project in Busia District. Fevre describes the spread of animal diseases through animal transportation in his article, ‘Animal movements and the spread of infectious diseases’ (Trends in Microbiology, 2006).

Perhaps just in time, just this month former ILRI ecologist Robin Reid, now director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, USA, began a project in Kenya that is putting radio collars on wildebeest to learn more precisely what routes the animals take in their migration. This project’s members are involving Maasai schoolchildren, who are naming the wildebeest, which they will then be able to follow. The wildebeest collars send regular tracking signals to Safaricom, which are then sent to Colorado, where the routes are posted on a web map that the schoolchildren can follow.

This year’s annual wildebeest migration has already begun. Herds are reported to have crossed the common border of Kenya/Tanzania from Northern Serengeti into Masai Mara, about 4 days ago. ‘What has been unusual about this year’s migration,’ says Paul Kirui, in the Masai Mara, ‘is that the main migration from the south arrived in the Mara early ahead of the Loita herds—the Kenyan resident herds of wildebeest—which usually migrate into the Mara from the east of the park. Normally when we start seeing them move into the park, it is a sign that the main migration from the south is on the way.’

The first population of wildebeest that Reid’s team darted and then tagged with radio collars in the Mara is the Loita group that remains resident in Kenya all year round. Or so the researchers think. The radio collars, now fixed on the first 15 wildebeest, have already started to report back and will be letting scientists, and those schoolchildren, know just where they go, and when.

Reid’s return gave ILRI cause to revisit two remarkable films about her ILRI research in the Mara. Counting in a Disappearing Land (ILRI, 11 minutes, 2007) describes Reid’s project with a Maasai community that has traditionally herded their livestock in Kenya’s wildlife-rich Masai Mara region. This ILRI project was looking to find ways of balancing the needs of people, lands and wildlife. In The Great Migration (CBS ’60 Minutes’, 15 minutes, October 2009), Scott Pelley interviews Reid about the threats to this natural spectacle and the part local Masai are playing to address these threats.

Collaborative conservation may indeed be the answer to saving the Serengeti ecosystem. Protecting majestic wild places and the wildlife they support, places that instill wonder in us, matters, of course, but so does protecting millions of people from severe poverty, chronic hunger and the afflictions that come in their wake: disease and untimely death.

With a large percentage of its land area under protection, Tanzania is a world leader in biodiversity conservation. It is also very, very poor. How this tug at resources—whether the Serengeti Plains will be used for wildlife tourism or other kinds of commerce—will play out may depend on how much the local communities living in poverty near the wildlife benefit from saving this, the last of the great migrations of big mammals on Earth.

More . . . (New York Times, 15 June 2010)

An alternative, southern road in Tanzania is discussed on a webpage of the Frankfurt Zoological Society.

See Paul Kirui’s blog on 17 June 2010 the migration on Masai Mara Updates.

Overcoming the Napier grass disease threat to East African dairy farmers

Also called elephant grass, Napier grass is planted on farms across East Africa as a source of feed for dairy cows. Farmers cut the grass for their livestock, carrying it home for stall feeding.

It is the most important forage grass in the region, constituting 40 to 80% of forages used by smallholder dairy farmers. In Kenya, half a million smallholder dairy producers rely on Napier grass to feed their cows. In Uganda, 90% of farmers rely entirely on Napier grass as fodder for their improved dairy cattle.

The livelihoods of these farmers are threatened by outbreaks of stunt and smut diseases affecting the Napier grass. To tackle the threat, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) funded a three-year project to determine the extent of the disease problem, to collect disease-resistant Napier grass clones identified by farmers, and to identify best management practices used by farmers to mitigate the impact of the diseases.

After three years researching the problem in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, project researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute, Rothamsted Research, the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Uganda) and the National Biological Control Programme (Tanzania) will meet with colleagues from the region to share results and recommendations, promote good practices and draw other scientists into the project.

The workshop will be held at ILRI Ethiopia from 1 to 3 June, 2010.

More information:

Project website

Project outputs

Project news item from Kenya

Livestock vaccine offers lifeline to many

ITM Vaccine

A vaccine is being made available to save the lives of a million cattle in sub-Saharan Africa against a lethal disease and to help safeguard the livelihoods of people who rely on their cattle for their survival.

East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds. It puts the lives of more than 25 million cattle at risk in the 11 countries of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is now endemic. The disease endangers a further 10 million animals in regions such as southern Sudan, where it has been spreading at a rate of more than 30 kilometres a year. While decimating herds of indigenous cattle, East Coast fever is an even greater threat to improved exotic cattle breeds and is therefore limiting the development of livestock enterprises, particularly dairy, which often depend on higher milk-yielding crossbred cattle. The vaccine could save the affected countries at least a quarter of a million US dollars a year.

Registration of the East Coast fever vaccine is central to its safety and efficacy and to ensuring its sustainable supply through its commercialization. The East Coast fever vaccine has been registered in Tanzania for the first time, a major milestone that will be recognized at a launch event in Arusha, northern Tanzania, on May 20. Recognizing the importance of this development for the millions whose cattle are at risk from the disease, governments, regulators, livestock producers, scientists, veterinarians, intellectual property experts, vaccine distributors and delivery agents as well as livestock keepers – all links in a chain involved in getting the vaccine from laboratory bench into the animal – will be represented.

An experimental vaccine against East Coast fever was first developed more than 30 years ago at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Major funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and others enabled work to produce the vaccine on a larger scale. When stocks from 1990s ran low, the Africa Union/Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and chief veterinary officers in the affected countries asked the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to produce more and ILRI subsequently produced a million doses of the vaccine to fill this gap. But the full potential for livestock keepers to benefit from the vaccine will only be achieved through longer term solutions for the sustainable production, distribution and delivery of the vaccine.

With $28US million provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID, a not-for-profit organization called GALVmed (Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines) is fostering innovative commercial means for the registration, commercial distribution and delivery of this new batch of the vaccine. A focus on sustainability underpins GALVmed’s approach and the Global Alliance is bringing public and private partners together to ensure that the vaccine is available to those who need it most.

Previous control of East Coast fever relied on use of acaracide dips and sprays, but these have several drawbacks. Ticks can develop resistance to acaracides and regular acaricide use can generate health, safety and environmental concerns. Furthermore, dipping facilities are often not operational in remote areas.

This effective East Coast fever vaccine uses an ‘infection-and-treatment method’, so-called because the animals are infected with whole parasites while being treated with antibiotics to stop development of disease. Animals need to be immunized only once in their lives, and calves, which are particularly susceptible to the disease, can be immunized as early as 1 month of age.

Over the past several years, the field logistics involved in mass vaccinations of cattle with the infection-and-treatment method have been greatly improved, due largely to the work of a private company, VetAgro Tanzania Ltd, which has been working with Maasai cattle herders in northern Tanzania. VetAgro has vaccinated more than 500,000 Tanzanian animals against East Coast fever since 1998, with more than 95% of these vaccinations carried out in remote pastoral areas. This vaccination campaign has reduced calf mortality in herds by 95%. In the smallholder dairy sector, vaccination reduced the incidence of East Coast fever by 98%. In addition, most smallholder dairy farmers reduced their acaracide use by at least 75%, which reduced both their financial and environmental costs.

Notes for Editors

What is East Coast fever?
East Coast fever is caused by Theleria parva (an intracellular protozoan parasite), which is transmitted by the brown ear tick Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. The parasites the tick carries make cattle sick, inducing high fever and lympho-proliferative syndrome, usually killing the animals within three weeks of their infection.

East Coast fever was introduced to southern Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century with cattle imported from eastern Africa, where the disease had been endemic for centuries. This introduction caused dramatic cattle losses. The disease since then has persisted in 11 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The disease devastates the livelihoods of small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers, particularly smallholder and emerging dairy producers, as well as pastoral livestock herders, such as the Maasai in East Africa.

The infection-and-treatment immunization method against East Coast fever was developed by research conducted over three decades by the East African Community and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) at Muguga, Kenya (www.kari.org). Researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya (www.ilri.org), helped to refine the live vaccine. This long-term research was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (www.dfid.gov.uk) and other donors of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (www.cgiar.org).

The first bulk batch of the vaccine, produced by ILRI 15 years ago, has protected one million animals against East coast fever, with the survival of these animals raising the standards of living for many livestock keepers and their families. Field trials of the new vaccine batch, also produced at ILRI, were completed in accordance with international standards to ensure that it is safe and effective.

How is the vaccine stored and administered?
Straws of the East Coast fever vaccine are stored in liquid nitrogen until needed, with the final preparation made either in an office or in the field. The vaccine must be used within six hours of its reconstitution, with any doses not used discarded. Vaccination is always carried out by trained veterinary personnel working in collaboration with livestock keepers. Only healthy animals are presented for vaccination; a dosage of 30% oxytetracycline antibiotic is injected into an animal’s muscle while the vaccine is injected near the animal’s ear. Every animal vaccinated is given an eartag, the presence of which subsequently increases the market value the animal. Young calves are given a worm treatment to avoid worms interfering with the immunization process.

Note
Case studies illustrating the impact of the infection-and-treatment vaccine on people’s lives are available on the GALVmed website at: www.galvmed.org/path-to-progress
For more information about the GALVmed launch of the live vaccine, on 20 May 2010, in Arusha, Tanzania, go to www.galvmed.org/

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.

African cattle to be protected from killer disease

ITM Vaccine

Millions of African families could be saved from destitution thanks to a much-needed vaccine that is being mass-produced in a drive to protect cattle against a deadly parasite.

East Coast fever is a tick-transmitted disease that kills one cow every 30 seconds – with one million a year dying of the disease.

Calves are particularly susceptible to the disease. In herds kept by the pastoral Maasai people, for example, the disease kills from 20 to over 50 per cent of all unvaccinated calves. This makes it difficult and often impossible for the herders to plan for the future, to improve their livestock enterprises and thus to raise their standard of living.

An experimental vaccine against East Coast fever was first developed more than 30 years ago. This has been followed by work to allow the vaccine to be produced on a large scale, with major funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and others.

East Coast Fever puts the lives of more than 25 million cattle at risk in the 11 countries where the disease is now endemic, and endangers 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 vaccine could save the 11 affected countries at least £175 million a year.

The immunization procedure – called “infection-and-treatment” because the animals are infected with whole parasites while being treated with antibiotics to stop development of disease – has proved highly effective. However, initial stocks produced in the 1990s recently ran low.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), at the request of the Africa Union/Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and chief veterinary officers in affected countries, produced one million doses of vaccine to fill this gap. However, for the longer term it is critical that sustainable commercial systems for vaccine production, distribution and delivery are established.

With UK£16.5 million provided by DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity GALVmed is fostering innovative commercial means to do just this, beginning with the registration and commercial distribution and delivery of this new batch of the vaccine. This will ensure that the vaccine is made available, accessible and affordable to livestock keepers who need it most and to scale up its production for the future.

International Development Minister Mike Foster said:

“Some 1.3 billion of the world's poorest people rely on livestock for their livelihoods. Many Africans depend on the health of their cattle for milk, meat and as their only hard asset for trade and investment. A smallholder dairy farmer can take years to recover economically from the death of a single milking cow. That’s why it’s vital that every possible step is taken to ensure that these essential vaccine doses are sustainably produced, tested and made available to the people who need them.

“DFID is supporting GALVmed to explore ways of transferring the production and distribution of the vaccine into the private sector through local manufacturers and distributors. This is extremely important in making the vaccine affordable, accessible and – crucially – sustainable.”

GALVmed CEO Steve Sloan said:
“Funded by DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GALVmed is working to protect livestock and the livelihoods of their owners. Thanks to the highly effective East Coast fever vaccine developed over many years by researchers working in East Africa and then refined and mass produced by ILRI, cattle invaluable to pastoralists such as the Maasai as well as smallholder dairy farmers are being protected. 
“The survival of cattle for the millions who live on tiny margins has a direct effect on quality of life and the dignity of choice and self-determination. Collaborating with ILRI and partners in the developing world, including governments and veterinary distributors and those from the private sector, GALVmed is working to embed the vaccine through registration in East African countries and to scale up its production so that it remains accessible to poor people.
“This pioneering registration effort aims to ensure that the vaccine is approved and monitored by affected nations and enables local firms to sell and distribute it, embedding its sustainability. Registration in Malawi is already complete, with significant progress in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.”
ILRI veterinary scientist Henry Kiara, who has conducted research on the live vaccine for 20 years, explains that ILRI is “looking forward to commercialising the production, distribution and delivery of the vaccine to the smallholder and emerging dairy producers as well as livestock herders” in this region of Africa. “Now that all the building blocks are in place, thanks to past investments by DFID and others”, he says, “we are excited to be at a stage where this vaccine can ‘take off’.”

Over the past several years, the field logistics involved in mass vaccinations of cattle with the infection-and-treatment method have been greatly improved, due largely to the work of a private Company called VetAgro Tanzania Ltd, working with Maasai cattle herders in northern Tanzania. Sustainability underpins GALVmed’s approach and the charity is working with developing world partners to ensure that the vaccine is available to those who need it most, bringing public and private partners together.


About the vaccine
The infection-and-treatment immunisation method against East Coast fever was developed by research conducted over three decades by the East African Community, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) at Muguga, Kenya (www.kari.org), and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya (www.ilri.org). This long-term research was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (www.dfid.gov.uk) and other donors of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (www.cgiar.org). The first bulk batch of the vaccine, produced by ILRI 15 years ago, has protected one million animals, whose survival raised the standard of living for livestock keepers and their families. Field trials of the new vaccine batch, also produced at ILRI, are being completed in accordance with international standards to ensure that it is safe and effective.

About East Coast fever
East Coast fever was first recognized in southern Africa when it was introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century with cattle imported from eastern Africa, where the disease had been endemic for centuries. It caused dramatic losses with high cattle mortality. It has persisted in 11 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The disease devastates the livelihoods of small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers and smallholder and emerging dairy producers, as well as pastoral livestock herders, such as the Maasai in East Africa.

East Coast fever, or theileriosis, is a devastating cancer-like disease of cattle that often kills the animals within three weeks of infection. It is caused by the single-celled parasite Theileria parva, which is transmitted by the brown ear tick (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus) as it feeds on cattle. In addition to producing the infection-and-treatment vaccine, ILRI is also working to develop a genetically engineered next-generation vaccine.

Some 70 per cent of the human population of sub-Saharan Africa – around half a billion people – depend on livestock for their livelihoods, with farming and herding families relying on cattle for vital sources of food, income, traction, transportation and manure to fertilise croplands.

A case study showing the impact of the disease on Maasai herders is included below. Further case studies illustrating the impact of the infection-and-treatment vaccine on people’s lives are available on the GALVmed website at: www.galvmed.org/path-to-progress

Case Study: East Coast fever in Tanzania

Maasai herders in Tanzania have been particularly devastated by East Coast fever. In parts of northern Tanzania, more than 1 in 5 calves die before reaching maturity (54 months) in the lowlands and more than one third fail to reach maturity in the (wetter) highlands, where tick-borne and other diseases are more prevalent.

Although the infection-and-treatment vaccine is a “live” vaccine, and thus needs to be stored in liquid nitrogen and administered by skilled practitioners, after which the animals must be monitored by experts for several days, the Maasai here are desperate for the new batch to be ready.

Introduction of the previous batch in recent years has drastically reduced calf mortality, from up to 80 per cent to less than 2 per cent. The protection afforded by the vaccine is so good that Maasai herders are willing to pay for these vaccinations. The vaccine appears to protect the animals against other ailments as well and, in addition, those mature animals that are marked with ear tags as having been vaccinated are fetching up to 50 per cent higher prices in the market. The vaccine is allowing these cattle herders to sell more animals and to invest their new income in, for example, bettering their household diets or paying for their children’s education. The new access to this vaccine is facilitating a transition among the Maasai in herd management, from a subsistence- to a market-orientation.

GALVmed has regular contact with those on the ground to improve access to the vaccine, including a meeting with 25 Masaai livestock keepers in Arusha, in northern Tanzania, earlier this year. At that meeting a Masaai representative stated:

“Please thank all those people who made the vaccine and also those who make it available for us to buy. Tell them not to stop their good work. No cattle means no Maasai – and no East Coast fever vaccine means no cattle.”

 

Staying Maasai? Livelihoods, conservation and development in East Africa rangelands

Staying Maasai

As East Africa’s iconic tribe changes with the times to keep its pastoral heritage alive, will the herders also be able and willing to save the wildlife populations around them? (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

Every year, over a million people visit the national parks and game reserves in East Africa, generating up to nearly US$2 billion a year in revenue. The most famous of these parks are in the Maasai heartland straddling the Kenya-Tanzania border. This ‘Maasailand’ supports the most diverse concentrations of big mammals left on earth.

Often overlooked is the abundance of wildlife mixed with livestock and pastoral peoples on grasslands adjacent to the parks and reserves—and the ways these pastoral herders and their animal stock contribute to the balance of these wildlife-rich savanna ecosystems.

A new book, Staying Maasai? Livelihoods, Conservation and Development in East African Rangelands, looks at thirty years of research on East Africa’s iconic Maasai people. In it, a group of international researchers argue for big and deep changes in the region’s policies affecting Maasailand and its people.

Semi-nomadic herders have maintained a pastoral way of life, co-existing with the wildlife in this region, for several thousand years. But that balance appears to have reached its tipping point. A recent study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), for example, has shown dramatic declines of six species of wild ungulates (hoofed animals)—giraffes, hartebeest, impala, warthogs, topis and waterbuck—in Kenya’s famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, in just the last 15 years. The researchers found that these wildlife declines are linked to growing human populations crowding at the boundaries of the Reserve, which are transforming these former grasslands, the traditional ‘dispersal lands’ for wildlife, into urban settlements and crop and livestock farms, thus fragmenting the former wildlife habitats.

Staying Maasai? portrays the many ways Maasai are adapting to—and driving—rapid environmental, political and societal changes. Substantial components of the book are a product of a collaborative research program, ‘Assessing Trade-offs between Poverty Alleviation and Wildlife Conservation’, involving a multidisciplinary and international group of natural and social scientists and their Maasai collaborators, funded by the Belgian Government and coordinated by ILRI. The book’s authors encourage decision-makers to look to the Maasai peoples themselves for sustainable solutions to conserving both wildlife and pastoral lifestyles, noting that contrary to conventional wisdom, few Maasai families are yet benefiting much from wildlife tourism. A fresh look at land, pastoral and conservation policies is urgently needed to ensure the survival of this community and its wildlife-rich pastoral lands in Kenya and Tanzania.

Wildlife revenues reach few Maasai people
The findings in this volume counter national policy maxims in Kenya and Tanzania by demonstrating the generally disappointing performance of wildlife for local livelihoods. While delivering significant returns to a few landowning households living adjacent to top-end wildlife eco-tourist destinations, wildlife brings very limited returns to most Maasai households.
A case study included in this book on wildlife and Maasai living in the Kitengela region just outside Kenya’s capital of Nairobi shows that leasing and other ecosystem services payment schemes are promising ways to enhance local livelihoods. Much more work needs to be done, however, to fulfil the promise of these schemes to benefit most of the pastoral people living in wildlife areas. Allowing the schemes to merely hobble on will fail to stop the continuing declines of wildlife and continuing impoverishment of most Maasai.

The lasting value of pastoral livestock production
The research findings reported in this volume confirm the continued centrality of livestock to local livelihoods across Maasailand, making clear the lasting economic importance and resilience of pastoral livestock production. Katherine Homewood, professor of anthropology at University College London, who is a lead author and co-editor of the book, writes in the final chapter that livestock production should not be viewed ‘as some romanticized throwback to an earlier age, but as a robust and vital component of twenty-first century livelihoods in Maasai rangelands.’

Four policy lessons
With a wide range of livelihood strategies now being pursued in East Africa’s Maasailand, pastoral policy needs to take better account of the situation evolving on the ground.

(1) Support livestock production.
First and foremost, says Katherine Homewood, policy needs to take account of ‘the central nature and resilience of livestock production in the rangelands, and to embrace and foster pastoral production, supporting mobility, access to key resources, veterinary provision and marketing infrastructures.’ Homewood argues that ‘Rather than dismissing pastoral production as backward, unproductive and as failing to contribute to the national economy,’ Kenyan and Tanzanian national policies need to recognize the actual worth of this form of land use. She says these issues are insufficiently addressed in Kenya’s draft National Livestock Policy and that Tanzania’s current policies not only deny pastoralists some of their basic rights (by evicting pastoralists from some areas and denying others grazing land tenure), but in addition are counter-productive to Tanzania’s stated aims for achieving environmental and economic sustainability.

(2) Limit cultivation.
Second, governments need to be more realistic about the potential for, and impacts of, intensifying or extending crop cultivation across the rangelands to replace pastoralist livestock production. ‘It is unrealistic to envisage a major increase in food production from cultivation in arid and semi-arid rangelands,’ writes Homewood, ‘given the agro-ecological limitations both of water availability and of soil fertility.’

(3) Encourage non-farm employment.
Third, governments need to foster potential for non-farm employment in Maasailand through rural industries and better education. ‘The potential of pastoral systems will be realized only with better educational and rural diversification opportunities,’ says Homewood, ‘and acknowledgement of the importance of pastoral livestock production.’

(4) Distribute tourist revenues.
Finally, governments and conservation groups need to rethink their understanding of the contribution of wildlife conservation to rural livelihoods. Homewood concludes that ‘The structure of the tourist industry needs to change to allow landowners in Kenya to capture more than the 5% of revenues they are estimated to receive.’

For more information on the book Staying Maasai? and the complexity of ILRI’s work, click on the links below.

Table of Content PDF
Chapter One Introduction PDF
Chapter Four Kitengela PDF
Chapter Ten Wildlife PDF

To order a copy: Staying Maasai? Order form

More relevant information:
1.ILRI wildlife study press release

2.
Mara study press room
3.Mara report- MEDIA COVERAGE

For more information please contact:

Dr. Patti Kristjanson
Leader, Innovation Works Initiative
International Livestock Research Institute
Telephone: +254-20-422-3000
Email: P.Kristjanson@cgiar.org
Website: www.ilri.org/InnovationWorks