Market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi

Selling agricultural produce at Chimbiya Market, near Dedza in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).


On 24 May 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine hosted policymakers, researchers and donors at a workshop in Belgium under the theme Better targeting food safety investments in low- and middle-income countries.

Among the presenters were three scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute who presented on why food safety matters in development from an agri-food system perspective, the experience of food safety management in Vietnam, and economic and health outcomes and impacts of food safety interventions.

Over the course of the workshop, several major themes emerged:

  1. Collaboration and knowledge sharing among the different sectors is critical and must be encouraged.
  2. Consumers have to weigh the risks when considering what choices to make, and they need more information in order to make better decisions.
  3. The problem of lack of access to safe foods is particularly acute for small children; not only are they disproportionately affected by foodborne illnesses and deaths, but they have the least control over their own exposure to this risk.

A detailed post about the workshop is available on the A4NH website.

A new international, multidisciplinary research initiative, the Lancet Countdown, was launched yesterday (14 Nov 2016) to track and analyse the impacts of climate change on public health.

The initiative will generate new research evidence to inform decision-making and drive an accelerated policy response to climate change. It will publish its findings annually in The Lancet, the leading global medical journal.

The Lancet Countdown is a collaboration of 48 leading experts from around the world, drawn from 16 academic and research institutions including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Tsinghua University (China), University College London and the World Health Organization. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

You can download the inaugural report, The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, for free via The Lancet website.

Among the report’s co-authors are Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and leader of ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program, and Paula Dominguez-Salas, postdoctoral researcher in nutrition at the Royal Veterinary College on joint appointment at ILRI.

Delia Grace presents on zoonotic diseases, UNEP Nairobi, 20 May 2016
ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace presenting at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Science-Policy Forum that preceded the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), on 20 May 2016 (photo credit: ILRI).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held its first global Science-Policy Forum in Nairobi, Kenya on 19-20 May 2016 as part of the overall programme of the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) held on 23-27 May 2016.

The forum offered a platform to the science community to engage with policymakers and civil society stakeholders on the science and knowledge needed to support informed decision-making to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), took part in the forum as a panellist for the launch of the UNEP Frontiers 2016 report on emerging issues of environmental concern.

Her presentation on zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases focused on the global burden of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted between animals and people), the drivers of disease (among them, land use change, environmental degradation and climate change) and how the multidisciplinary One Health approach can be used to support timely response to the threat of zoonotic diseases.


Zoonotic diseases are also featured in a chapter in the UNEP Frontiers 2016 report, Zoonoses: Blurred lines of emergent disease and ecosystem health by Delia Grace and ILRI colleagues Bernard Bett, Hu Suk Lee and Susan MacMillan.

Typical milk bar in Kenya

A typical milk bar in Kenya. Packaged milk in supermarkets has been found to be no better at meeting food safety standards than raw milk sold from kiosks (photo credit: ILRI/Dave Elsworth).

Kenya’s informal dairy markets are central to the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of the majority of its citizens, particularly the poor, women and children. Kenya’s informal dairy market is significant in size – 86% of Kenya’s milk is sold by unorganized, small-scale businesses in informal markets or consumed directly at home. The sector generates 70% of the 40,000 jobs in dairy marketing and processing.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has been working in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya to explore the impacts of efforts to govern Kenya’s dairy sector in a way that works with, rather than against, informal, small-scale milk vendors. We looked at the impact on milk vendors, on food safety and on sustainability, with the findings published in the final briefing in a series on innovations in policy approaches to informality.

Read the rest of the blog post, Lessons in informality from Kenya’s dairy sector, by Emma Blackmore. Originally posted on the IIED website.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in grains and other crops. Consumption of very high levels of aflatoxins can cause acute illness and death. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is linked to liver cancer, especially where hepatitis is prevalent, and this is estimated to cause as many as 26,000 deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa.

Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans. Of these animal-source food products, milk has the greatest risk because relatively large amounts of aflatoxin are carried over and milk is consumed especially by infants.

As part of knowledge exchange on the latest research developments in the area of aflatoxins and food safety, Delia Grace and Johanna Lindahl, food safety researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), presented on aflatoxins, animal health and the safety of animal-source foods at a virtual briefing organized by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, a network of 37 bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and international financing institutions working to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable rural development.

Their presentation began with an overview of aflatoxins and how livestock and fish get exposed to aflatoxins. This was followed by a discussion on the impact of aflatoxins on animal health and production, how aflatoxins in crops move through the food chain to end up in animal-source foods and ways to manage the risk of aflatoxins in animals and animal-source foods.

The need for evidence-based approaches in developing standards for animal feeds was highlighted, as well as the need for risk-based regulation and legislation to provide guidelines on safety issues such as appropriate management of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

The presentation concluded with a summary of the key messages and policy recommendations, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Watch the recording of the briefing (approx. 34 minutes)

Jump to the question-and-answer session [16:37]

More information on research on aflatoxins and food safety is available in a set of 19 research briefs published in November 2013 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The briefs were co-edited by Laurian Unnevehr of IFPRI and Delia Grace of ILRI.

Read more about ILRI’s research projects on aflatoxins

Poultry seller in a 'wet market' in Indonesia

A women sells live ducklings in a ‘wet market’ in Indonesia (photo credit: ILRI/Christine Jost).

On 29 January 2013, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) organized a half-day workshop at the 2013 Prince Mahidol Award Conference entitled Cross-sectoral collaboration for health and sustainability: a new agenda for generating and assessing research impact in the face of complexity.

This pre-conference workshop convened nearly 60 international researchers, practitioners, policymakers and representatives from donor agencies and international organizations to address two contemporary challenges in global health research and practice:

  1. How do we measure and attribute the success and impact of integrated, transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and interventions? Further, how do we effectively and coherently communicate these successes to key global health policymakers?
  2. How can we integrate multiple lines of evidence and knowledge in order to achieve gains amongst a family of desired outcomes: the improvement of human and animal health, generation of impact for community members and policymakers, and the promotion of ecological and social sustainability?

The summary report of the workshop is now published, presenting the highlights and reflections which emerged from the workshop and its discussions.

“It is hoped that the key findings will enhance the proficiency of researchers to influence and impact regional and global health policy debates,” the authors say.

“Further, lessons from the workshop may inform priority setting for future research agendas in international One Health, EcoHealth and global health research.”

ILRI’s experiences in using EcoHealth approaches to better manage zoonoses in Southeast Asia took centre stage during a poster session at the 2013 Prince Mahidol Award Conference.

The conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand from 29 January to 2 February 2013.