Livestock and women’s livelihoods: The recent evidence

ILRI policies, instititions and livelihoods program

This ILRI discussion paper synthesises evidence of the contributions that livestock make to the livelihoods of poor women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and identifies factors that enhance or constrain livestock-related opportunities for women.

We apply a gender lens to three livestock-related pathways out of poverty—securing, building and safeguarding livestock assets; increasing and sustaining livestock productivity; and enhancing participation in and benefits from livestock markets.

For each pathway, we summarize what is known and what this knowledge implies for programmatic and policy interventions. Assembling this information is a first step towards identifying some of the large gaps in our evidence base as well as some indications of the kinds of research and development interventions, made in relation to which species and value chains, that appear most likely to benefit poor women and their families.

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Livestock key to ending poverty and hunger in developing countries

ILRI policies, instititions and livelihoods program

A child holds a newly born family lamb
A child holds a newly born family lamb in Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRIZerihun Sewunet).

At a recently held high-level United Nations meeting , several events on poverty and hunger featured the importance of livestock.

‘The key message of these sessions is that livestock’s potential for bolstering development lies in the sheer number of rural people who already depend on the sector for their livelihoods. These subsistence farmers also supply the bulk of livestock products in low-income countries. In fact, defying general perceptions, poor smallholders vastly outnumber large commercial operations.’

‘At the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, we know that small-scale livestock farming can be the vehicle that puts families on the pathway out of poverty and out of danger when it comes to economic shocks.
Livestock policies that favour the poor have been shown to be effective in lifting families beyond mere subsistence, generating a ripple…

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New community animal health platforms to guide participatory improvement of livestock in four regions of Mali

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling (MLST) Project: community animal health platforms facilitators training Participants of a community animal health platform facilitators training in Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Michel Dione).

Four community animal health platforms (CAHPs) have been formed to harness collective action in addressing animal health and livestock value constraints in four regions of Mali.

The platforms are a key part of the Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling (MLTS) program, which aims to improve livestock production and related incomes for 61,000 households in the country.

Their establishment follows a training workshop, held 17-27 September 2016, for facilitators identified by the MLTS program partners who include the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, L’Association Malienne d’Eveil au Développement Durable (AMEED) and Catholic Relief Services. The workshops were facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and took place in the respective regions.

The four CAHPs, in each of the four program intervention communes—Farakala in Sikasso, Sincina in Koutiala, Sofara in Mopti and Djenne commune in…

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WorldFish breeding program produces 15th generation of improved GIFT tilapia

CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish

At WorldFish, the long-running selective breeding program for the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain is fundamental to its efforts to improve livelihoods and food security in Asia, the Pacific and Africa by improving aquaculture and fisheries.

The development of faster-growing tilapia species helps farmers increase their productivity, which is especially beneficial for poor, small-scale producers in developing countries who depend on aquaculture for food, income and nutrition yet often have low yields.

In 2016, WorldFish continued this vital GIFT breeding work, funded by the European Union, highlighted by the development of the 15th generation of GIFT and the first-ever distribution of GIFT fry to Myanmar.

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Contributed by Kate Bevitt, WorldFish

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New publication warns of rising use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs in farm animals

ILRI Clippings

Antimicrobial consumption in chickens (A) & pigs (B) in 2010

Antimicrobial consumption in chickens (A) & pigs (B) in 2010. Figure from PNAS paper: Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals, published 20 Mar 2015 by Thomas Van Boeckel, Tim Robinson and others.

As reported in a scientific paper published 20 Mar 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals, worldwide antimicrobial consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 67% between 2010 and 2030.

Use of such drugs has grown as livestock systems intensify around the world to meet a growing world demand for meat, milk and eggs, particularly in developing countries.

Widespread use of these drugs to prevent disease in farm animals or to promote their growth is a growing concern. Inappropriate use may contribute to growing microbe resistance, which makes these drugs ineffective in treating infections in people as well as animals. In addition, residues of…

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Recent drought-induced livestock losses in East Africa mask deeper problem of animal feed scarcities

ILRI Clippings

Cattle grazing on Brachiaria grass at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Collins Mutai).

The following excerpts are taken from an opinion piece published by An Notenbaert, a former scientist with ILRI for 11 years who now serves as the tropical forages coordinator for Africa at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

‘With the onset of the rains, livestock farmers around Kenya might breathe a sigh of relief. But they have come too late for the thousands of cattle that have already died, hit by the drought that led President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a national disaster in February this year. . . .

Yet this phenomenon is one which will not be solved by rain alone. It is down to a few, fundamental challenges which go deeper than drought.

Across east and southern Africa, livestock farmers routinely face the same hurdles in increasing meat and milk production:…

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Why (and how) human health (and development) depends on animal health—OIE’s Monique Eloit

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South African cattle dead from a devastating outbreak of rinderpest, 1896 (photographer unknown; public domain image).

The following are excerpts of an opinion piece written by Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

‘For centuries, rinderpest, a highly contagious and fatal cattle plague, spread across the world bringing social and economic devastation.

‘This deadly virus, passed through bodily fluids, preyed on cattle and buffalo and caused fever, severe diarrhea and dehydration.

When it first emerged in Africa at the end of the 19th century, it killed up to 90 percent of the continent’s cattle herd.

‘At the peak of its reach, it decimated livestock from Europe to Africa, from the Philippines to Brazil. In Nigeria alone, the losses to rinderpest throughout the 1980s amounted to $2 billion.

‘In the grip of this threat, a global response was mounted.

The World Organisation for Animal…

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