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Pastoralism

A gender-inclusive approach to community livestock vaccination can help address the different barriers faced by men and women farmers and may increase the uptake of livestock vaccines

Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently published a study on the uptake of the Rift Valley fever vaccine in Kenya and Uganda, incorporating gender in their analysis to better understand the different barriers that men and women farmers face in adopting and using livestock vaccines.

The barriers include the cost of vaccines, long distances to vaccination points, lack of information on vaccination campaigns and decision-making processes at the household level. Understanding these barriers can help veterinary workers design more effective community livestock vaccination programs of benefit to both men and women farmers.

‘Conducting gender analysis on livestock vaccine interventions can enable implementers to identify generic and gender-specific needs of their target beneficiaries’, says Edna Mutua, the lead author of the study and gender consultant at ILRI.

‘This will allow the use of the findings to inform the design and delivery of vaccination interventions to increase efficiency and uptake’, she adds.

Rift Valley fever is a viral, mosquito-borne zoonotic disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and camels. It causes abortions in livestock and flu-like illness in humans. People can get infected through contact with secretions or tissue of infected animals.

Rift Valley fever is endemic in East Africa and its impacts are significant. An outbreak of the disease in Kenya in 2006–07 caused 150 human deaths and led to losses of USD 32 million from livestock deaths, reduced animal productivity and trade bans on livestock and livestock products.

Vaccination of livestock is currently the most effective measure to control the disease. Previous research on Rift Valley fever vaccines have tended to focus on the production, safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Very few studies have been carried out on the uptake and adoption of livestock vaccines and most of these did not include gender in the study design and analysis but treated male and female livestock farmers as a homogeneous group.

This new ILRI-led study, published in the journal Vaccines (August 2019), provides useful insights into how prevailing gender dynamics in communities such as the division of roles and responsibilities in farmers’ households can influence the uptake and adoption of livestock vaccines.

Uptake was defined as the process the farmers take from when they receive livestock vaccination information to consenting to have their animals vaccinated and presenting the animals for vaccination. Adoption was defined as the continuous use of the vaccine when needed, even without the intervention of veterinary departments.

The study was carried out in Kwale and Murang’a counties in Kenya and Arua and Ibanda districts in Uganda. Data were collected through 58 focus group discussions (30 in Kenya and 28 in Uganda), with 8–12 discussants per group, selected based on whether or not livestock were vaccinated during recent outbreaks of Rift Valley fever.

To incorporate gender into the study design, in each country, half of the focus groups comprised men only and the other half women only. This gender disaggregation enabled the research team to collect data from the different gender groups across all four study locations.

The researchers found that men and women farmers faced different barriers in accessing and using livestock vaccines and that these constraints were influenced by socio-cultural and economic contexts and location.

For all focus groups across the four locations, the farmers ranked the top three barriers to the uptake of livestock vaccines as the cost of vaccines, limited access to information on vaccination and the side effects of the vaccines. However, including the gender and locational differences in the analysis brought forth a clearer picture of which group was most affected by which constraint.

Women in one region, for example, cited the cost of vaccines as the key challenge while women in another cited the limited information available on vaccination campaigns. In one region, the cultural dynamics around livestock ownership were paramount; in another, the long distances the women had to walk their animals to access the vaccination points was key.

The general lesson, however, was the same: ‘Provision of livestock vaccines by veterinary departments does not always guarantee uptake by men and women farmers’, lead author Edna Mutua notes.

Mutua is optimistic that veterinary authorities in Kenya and Uganda will use the research findings to design more effective community vaccination campaigns to prevent and control Rift Valley fever.

‘My hope is that this study serves as an eye-opener to veterinary departments in Kenya and Uganda on the need to integrate gender analysis into their livestock vaccine programs’, she says. ‘Optimizing vaccine uptake requires us to have a better understanding of the local contexts and constraints within which male and female farmers operate’.

This article by Tezira Lore was first published in the ILRI 2019 Annual Report.

The design of strategies for uptake of livestock vaccines by communities in East Africa should take into account that male and female farmers face different barriers in the uptake of the vaccines, a new research study says.

These barriers include the cost of the vaccines, distances to vaccination points, access to information on vaccination campaigns and decision-making processes at household level. Some constraints affect both men and women while others affect one gender group only, based on prevailing gender norms and division of labour.

The study, published in the journal Vaccines (8 Aug 2019), was undertaken by a team of scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute, Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the United States Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The work was carried out in purposively selected sites, namely, Kwale and Murang’a counties in Kenya and Arua and Ibanda districts in Uganda. The sites in Kenya were selected because livestock there had recently been vaccinated against Rift Valley fever while the sites in Uganda were chosen because they had experienced recent outbreaks of the disease but no vaccination was carried out. Data were collected through 58 focus group discussions (30 in Kenya and 28 in Uganda), with 8–12 discussants per group.

The researchers found that women in Kwale experienced more difficulties than their male counterparts in accessing information on vaccination campaigns while women in Ibanda had limited decision-making capacity over the management and control of livestock diseases because of culturally defined livestock ownership patterns. 

The cost of vaccines was a greater barrier for men than for women because the role of managing and controlling livestock diseases in these communities was culturally ascribed to men.

To be effective, therefore, livestock vaccination campaigns need to consider the socio-cultural gender dynamics that exist at household and community level. It is not enough to merely provide vaccines to the community during mass campaigns.

“Availability of vaccines does not guarantee uptake at community level due to social, spatial, economic and vaccine safety and efficacy barriers faced by men and women farmers,” the researchers note.

They add, “Vaccine uptake is a complex process which requires buy-in from men and women farmers, veterinary departments, county/district governments, national governments and vaccine producers”.

Citation

Mutua, E., Haan, N. de, Tumusiime, D., Jost, C. and Bett, B. 2019. A qualitative study on gendered barriers to livestock vaccine uptake in Kenya and Uganda and their implications on Rift Valley fever control. Vaccines 7(3): 86.

To the grazing field, Afar, Ethiopia

Cattle going to the grazing field in Afar region, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Climate change influences the occurrence and transmission of a wide range of livestock diseases through multiple pathways. Diseases caused by pathogens that spent part of their life cycle outside the host (for instance, in vectors or the environment) are more sensitive in this regard, compared to those caused by obligate pathogens.

A newly published book, The Climate-Smart Agriculture Papers, brings together some of the latest research by agricultural scientists on climate-smart agriculture in eastern and southern Africa. The 25 chapters of the book highlight ongoing efforts to better characterize climate risks, develop and disseminate climate-smart varieties and farm management practices, and integrate these technologies into well-functioning value chains.

In a chapter on climate change and livestock diseases, scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) use two well-studied vector-borne diseases—Rift Valley fever and tick-borne diseases—as case studies to describe direct pathways through which climate change influences infectious disease-risk in East and southern Africa.

Access the chapter, Climate change and infectious livestock diseases: The case of Rift Valley fever and tick-borne diseases by Bernard Bett, Johanna Lindahl and Delia Grace.

The hidden dangers of irrigation in Kenya

By Imogen Mathers

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For farmers in Kenya, creative ways to irrigate crops can be the difference between a harvest failing or thriving. In this drought-prone country, access to reliable water sources is a daily challenge.

Few would argue with the need for better irrigation. Yet certain techniques introduced by the government to spur food production have dangerous side effects, warns Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya.

The pools and canals that underpin flood irrigation create ideal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive, and are a draw for wildlife to gather and drink. This confluence of elements forms a perfect petri dish for zoonotic diseases such as malaria and dengue to circulate between wildlife, livestock, humans and insects.

Instead, Bett suggests exploring alternative techniques such as drip irrigation, a small change that can play a big part in keeping people safe from vector-borne diseases.

The interview was recorded on 18 March 2016 at One Health for the Real World, a symposium in the United Kingdom organised by the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa consortium and the Zoological Society of London.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Cow in Kenya

Cow in Kenya. A new Rift Valley fever risk map for Kenya will help develop prevention and control measures to combat the disease in the country (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

A new Rift Valley fever risk map for Kenya, based on data from a period spanning over 50 years, will be an important tool for use in developing measures to prevent and control the disease in the country.

Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that affects animals such as cattle, sheep, camels and goats. It is also a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to people.

Rift Valley fever epidemics occur every 3 to 10 years in specific regions of the Greater Horn of Africa, southern and western Africa and in the Arabian Peninsula, resulting in high rates of infection and death among people and livestock.

In Kenya, the most recent outbreaks of the disease occurred in 1997-98 and 2006-07. Experts agree that the severity of Rift Valley fever epidemics can be reduced through the use of effective early warning systems followed by rapid implementation of prevention and control measures.

In 2008, international experts and decision-makers from eastern Africa developed a risk-based decision support framework designed to guide responses during various stages of the Rift Valley fever disease cycle.

Now, a team of researchers from Kenya, the Netherlands and the United States of America has added to the arsenal of tools to prevent and control Rift Valley fever by using surveillance data from 1951 to 2007 to develop a Rift Valley fever risk map for Kenya.

The map shows the risk of an outbreak of the disease for each of the 391 administrative divisions in the country (based on the 1999 administrative map), classifying the divisions as high, medium or low risk.

The authors of the study say that the Rift Valley fever risk map will provide the Government of Kenya with an evidence-base from which it can respond to a Rift Valley fever epidemic warning as well as develop long-term prevention and control programs in high-risk areas.

The map is published in an article in the journal PLOS ONE (25 Jan 2016): Predictive factors and risk mapping for Rift Valley fever epidemics in Kenya

Citation
Munyua, P.M., Murithi, R.M., Ithondeka, P., Hightower, A., Thumbi, S.M., Anyangu, S.A., Kiplimo, J., Bett, B., Vrieling, A., Breiman, R.F. and Njenga, M.K. 2016. Predictive factors and risk mapping for Rift Valley fever epidemics in Kenya. PLOS ONE 11(1): e0144570.

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya. Both cattle and people can be infected with Rift Valley fever (photo credit: ILRI /Rosemary Dolan).

Recent climate predictions suggest East Africa may be in line for an epidemic of Rift Valley fever – an infectious disease which can hit people, their livestock and livelihoods, and national economies hard.

Data from the Climate Prediction Center and International Research Institute for Climate and Society suggest there is a 99.9% chance there will be an El Niño occurrence this year, with a 90% chance it will last until March/April 2016.

At least two of the most recent Rift Valley fever epidemics in East Africa—those in 1997-98 and 2006-07—were associated with El Niño weather patterns, with Kenya suffering losses amounting to US$32 million.

Given the strong predictions of an El Niño occurrence, and the established association between El Niño and Rift Valley fever risk, countries in the Horn of Africa need to start preparing to manage the developing risk.

In particular, public education on the linkages between the expected weather patterns and disease risk is vital to minimize human exposure to the disease should an epidemic occur.

Read the full article by Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Rosemary Dolan).

The Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium is a research program that works to understand the relationships between ecosystems, zoonotic diseases, health and wellbeing in order to inform effective public health interventions.

Under this program, multidisciplinary country teams are studying four zoonotic diseases: henipavirus infection in Ghana, Lassa fever in Sierra Leone, Rift Valley fever in Kenya and trypanosomiasis in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The focus is on how changes in biodiversity, land use and climate affect disease transmission.

The development of irrigation schemes is thought to influence pathogen transmission in people and animals in several ways. For example, masses of stagnant water and high humidity support the development of disease vectors like mosquitoes. In addition, irrigated areas are likely to have a higher density of animal hosts like chicken and small ruminants.

In order to investigate the influence of irrigation and changes in biodiversity on the distribution of zoonoses, a cross-sectional study was carried out in Tana River County, Kenya, home to the Hola Irrigation Scheme. The zoonoses of interest were Rift Valley fever, Q fever, brucellosis, West Nile virus, dengue fever and leptospirosis.

Irrigation causes a decline in biodiversity as wildlife habitats are cleared to make way for crop agriculture. However, the linkages between biodiversity and disease risk remain unclear. It was also found that areas with a rich diversity of hosts have higher prevalence of multiple zoonotic pathogens as compared to areas with lower host diversity.

The study also found that while irrigated areas are infested with multiple species of mosquitoes (including primary vectors of Rift Valley fever), their high population densities alone are not enough to sustain the transmission of pathogens; reservoir hosts (for example, birds for West Nile virus) or other persistence mechanisms are required.

These and other findings from the study were presented at the 49th annual scientific conference of the Kenya Veterinary Association which was held in April 2015.

View the presentation, Land use, biodiversity changes and the risk of zoonotic diseases: Findings from a cross-sectional study in Tana River County, Kenya

Rift Valley fever, a viral disease that is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, causes abortion and stillbirth in livestock and can cause serious conditions such as haemorrhagic fever and encephalitis in humans.

Download a brief that illustrates how scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are working to identify key drivers for Rift Valley fever occurrence and transmission, and develop decision support tools to guide responses at various stages of the epidemic cycle of the disease.

Developed after the last devastating Rift Valley fever outbreak in Kenya in 2006-07, these research outputs are designed to enable decision-makers to take timely, evidence-based decisions to prevent and control future epidemics and reduce their impacts.

In particular, the Government of Kenya has incorporated the decision support tool in its Rift Valley fever contingency plan and local governments in the country regularly use outputs from ILRI’s work to assess their level of preparedness.

The Rift Valley fever virus is a mosquito-borne pathogen that causes explosive outbreaks of severe human and livestock disease in Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The rapid evolution of outbreaks of Rift Valley fever generates exceptional challenges in its mitigation and control.

A decision-support tool for prevention and control of Rift Valley fever in the Greater Horn of Africa identifies a series of events that indicates increasing risk of an outbreak and matches interventions to each event.

This poster, prepared for the Tropentag 2014 conference, presents information from a study that assessed the effectiveness of targeted vaccination in mitigating the impacts of outbreaks of Rift Valley fever.

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Mitigation of the impacts of Rift Valley fever through targeted vaccination strategies

This week, ILRI staff are participating in the Tropentag 2014 International Conference in Prague, Czech Republic (17-19 September 2014). There is also a dedicated ILRI@40 side event on livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security and healthy lives.  See all the posters.

 

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya

Orma Boran cattle crossing a river in Kenya. A new research update by the Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium offers insights into the drivers of Rift Valley fever in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/R. Dolan)

The Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium has published five situation analysis research updates, one for each of its case study countries. Each update outlines the background to the case study disease being investigated, the key questions the research team is exploring, some of the knowns and unknowns, and the research methodologies being followed.

Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is the leader of the Kenya team that is exploring the drivers of Rift Valley fever in Kenya.

The updates are available for download from the links below (PDF):