Using a Randomised Control Trial to study the impact of Newcastle Disease vaccine on poultry farmer welfare and livelihoods

In 2020, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) was contracted by GALVmed to implement an intervention and conduct an associated impact study on the adoption of a Newcastle Disease Vaccine (NDV) by small-scale poultry farmers in rural Tanzania in the districts of Chemba and Mbozi. The objective of the study is to quantify the causal effects that the delivery of NDV has on the “production, productivity, and livelihoods of small-scale producers (SSPs)”. The study involves two main activities:

  1. The design and implementation of an NDV intervention in selected SSP farming areas of Tanzania.
  2. The design and implementation of an experimental study to quantify the causal effects of the NDV intervention.

The impact study was designed as a randomised controlled trial (RCT) where the study sample was randomly split into one treatment group and one control group. The treatment group was offered and will continue to be offered the NDV intervention package. This group will be compared with a control group, who did not and will not receive the intervention package during the study. The control group will receive one round of the intervention after the study’s endline survey.

A baseline study was conducted between September and November 2021 and the endline survey is scheduled for September to November 2023. Further details on the RCT and its findings will be made available upon publication of the results.

Blog written by Lamyaa Al-Riyami

GALVmed discusses impact

Impact is an important topic for any philanthropic organisation and GALVmed is putting this topic front and centre of our agenda for 2022. The primary reason is that we are in the process of finalising and beginning to implement our ten-year strategy, and it is vitally important that we integrate the lessons we have learned so far and align on the topic of impact.

To kickstart this process, three workshops were held over the end of January and beginning of February 2022 with the aim to provide a common, organisational understanding of impact. We took a look at our record of impact and discussed some of the associated key lessons learned from the three main programmes GALVmed has delivered to date, namely the first and second Protecting Livestock, Saving Human Life programmes (PLSHL 1 and PLSHL 2), and the Veterinary Innovations Transforming Animal Health and Livelihoods programme (VITAL). These workshops constituted the first phase of a collective look at impact within the organisation.

A second phase is being led by the evaluation team, which operates under the Commercial Development and Impact department (CD&I) at GALVmed. Lasting eight weeks, the primary purpose is to collate further data, present findings to our donors and board, and most importantly, to implement actionable findings into the Commercial Development, Research and Development, Evaluation, and Enabling Environment programmes under the new strategy.

The key activities include taking lessons learned from previous programmes of work and considering the implications for new GALVmed projects and programmes, creating a theory of change for GALVmed at an organisational level, in which the GALVmed mission is clearly stated and pathways to impact explained, and linking impact to GALVmed’s overall assessment of organisational performance. Through this process we intend to identify our potential for impact in the new strategy as well as the key levers and drivers for change.

This blog was written by Katharine Tjasink

Using vignettes for gender research

Gender research can be used to understand community perceptions of social and gender norms. To better understand these perceptions in the context of poultry intensification, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with GALVmed, recently carried out a rapid gender landscaping analysis in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe using a unique method – the vignette. The landscaping analysis was designed to inform the gender context underpinning the PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow (PREVENT) project in these countries.

A fictitious story about a chicken-keeper named Amina is a tool for conversations about social norms

The vignette approach involves reading out a fictitious story involving a main protagonist in a focus group setting and leaving the end of the story blank for the group to comment on ‘what happens next’ as a tool for a conversation about social and gender norms. As the landscaping study was designed to understand community perceptions of women’s involvement in poultry intensification, the vignette in this study was of a chicken keeper named Amina, whose poultry business was flourishing. Amina’s husband approaches her and wants to discuss her business. Responses from the community as to what happened next ranged widely. The following are some examples:

Amina was talented in chicken keeping as she started before she was married and benefited from it. I believe her husband wanted to give her knowledge on the business as well as to congratulate her because what she does is beneficial to the family and the whole society.

– Woman in Tanzania.

There’s no mention on the story where Amina’s business takes a dwindling turn, but it is forever growing, which excites me a lot. So, when the husband wants to talk to Amina about her business, there’s an element of knowledge capacitation the husband wants to offer to her so the business grows to greater heights.

– Man in Zimbabwe.

Maybe the man is jealous she is doing better than him and not getting her attention and other men are eyeing her; she is getting more money. He might think maybe one day she will not be submissive to him. He is afraid.

– Woman in Nigeria.

Through the vignette, we were able to gather information about potential consequences from husbands, family members, and community members when a woman intensifies her poultry production at the expense of her care duties. This includes responsibilities to the family, children, community, or breaking social norms such as speaking to male customers at night. Such consequences include shaming, social ostracization, gossip, jealousy, marital conflict, possibly even domestic violence, or divorce. While support from a husband and family members can lead to growth of the business, as the husband becomes more involved, there is a question about whether women’s ability to control resources and benefits diminishes.

The results of this study raise some interesting questions for the PREVENT project and the gender consequences of poultry intensification. GALVmed will be using these findings to inform a gender intentional approach to understanding, tracking, and communicating the gendered effects of the project.

This blog was written by Katharine Tjasink and co-authored by Zoë Campbell (ILRI)

Learning lessons at GALVmed

The collection and analysis of data allow organisations to develop and implement impactful and evidence-based strategies. GALVmed’s Commercial Development and Impact Function is committed to a developmental approach to monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL), which means that we use rapid learning to improve a project programme or affirm the need for a change of course.

To be truly developmental, this learning needs to feed back in a systematic way into our organisation. How do we do that? We use a framework for lessons learning to ensure that the lessons are integrated back into GALVmed. The Collaboration, Learning and Adapting (CLA) framework, developed and used by USAID, is a useful approach that we have adapted to frame our learning process. USAID defines CLA as “a set of processes and activities that help ensure programming is coordinated, grounded in evidence, and adjusted as necessary to remain effective throughout implementation” (ADS 201, 2016).

CLA is based in the understanding that development projects operate in complex systems, which shift over time. In this changing landscape, the objectives that we set out at the beginning of a project or programme can be affected over a three or five year period of performance. Responding in an adaptive manner ensures that we keep moving towards having a positive impact. The adaptive decisions we make must be based in evidence, which is why we are integrating processes for CLA into the beginning of our projects or programmes and adjusting these throughout the project or programme life cycle. Essentially, this is an approach to learning that fits in perfectly with our developmental approach.

There are three main steps in our learning process:

  1. The first step is to accurately define and diagnose the problem (or best practice). Some problems are logistical or operational and have easy fixes. But these, while important, do not usually make or break a project. Others are deeper and more complex and require a lot more thought and reflection to unpack them and to understand how to respond to them. Sometimes there are multiple causes to a problem, with some of them being root causes.
  2. The second step is to categorise the problem (or best practice). The use of categories ensures key information is not missed and helps to focus our thinking on lessons. To ensure consistency across projects, there are standard categories for each project and additional categories specific to a project can be added as needed.
  3. The third step is to define a road map for the way forward. This involves defining what action needs to take place, and how to know when that action has succeeded. At the end of a lessons learning exercise, there should be a road map that takes us from a lesson to action and adaptation.

Throughout this process, active collaboration is key to ensuring that we view our lessons from multiple perspectives and that our stakeholders have a voice.

This blog was written by Katharine Tjasink

The YouTube pig farmer

Pig production in India has increased substantially in recent times. It is considered one of the most sustainable industries in the country. Pigs as compared to other livestock species have great potential to contribute to faster economic return to the farmers, because of certain inherent traits like high fecundity, better-feed conversion efficiency, early maturity and short generation interval. Pig farming also requires small investment on buildings and equipment.

An estimated half a million people in India are involved in pig farming and 70% of the pig population is reared under traditional smallholder, low-input demand driven production

Mahendra Singh, 46, is one such small-scale farmer. Hailing from the village of Chirlamujapata near Prayagraj city of Uttar Pradesh province, he had ambitions of going beyond his family’s traditional farming activities and ventured into pig farming. He got inspiration from watching YouTube videos on pig farming, and in 2019 he, along with his brother Rahul Singh set up a pig farm, armed with the knowledge from YouTube and consultations from a few farmers in his locality who reared pigs.

They started small but have been able to grow the business gradually even in the hard times of the pandemic.

“We spend about INR 18 lakh (approximately US $23,800) every year and make a profit of INR 15 lakh (approximately US $19,800) annually. Of the sales we make, about 40% is profit,” says Mahendra. The expenditures include buying piglets, feed, medicines & healthcare, labour, electricity etc.

To ensure that the pigs are healthy, Mahendra has been working with representatives of Hester Biosciences, who regularly visit farmers within the locality to support them with their animal health needs. Hester Biosciences has been working with GALVmed and local government officials in provision of crucial veterinary medicines and advice targeted at small-scale livestock producers.

Animal healthcare worker attends to Mahendra’s pigs


After the initial intensive guidance, Mahendra is now able to proactively make decisions regarding the health of the pigs. “In the three years I have been in business, I am happy with the success we have been able to achieve.”
But this success has not been without hard work and growing pains. After the initial capital of INR 9 lakh (approximately US $11,880) more expenses cropped up that required more capital injection to the tune of INR 26 lakh (approximately US $34,320). The business was finally able to break even after two years, which is a feat, considering disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Apart from the regular feed given to the pigs, Mahendra used mineral supplements such as Repro Plus and for pregnant sows, Protin C. The supplement is given to the sows even after the deliveries of piglets.

The farm can have up to 300 animals at a time. Pigs are sold once every six months and most of them are transported to the north-eastern states of the country, where pig consumption is high. The business has become the main source of income for Mahendra and his family. He has set an example of success that may soon be emulated by others.

As success spread, so did interest, and more small-scale producers continue to venture into pig farming. In Mahendra’s locality, about 60 farmers are involved in pig farming now. And these farmers will require animal health services and information to take care of their pigs and improve their livelihoods.

With the profit from the business, Mahendra and his brother have invested in a proper pigsty

Improved healthcare increases milk yields for small-scale dairy producers

Small-scale dairy production in developing countries is subject to many risks from diseases. In India, GALVmed is working with Hester Biosciences to improve the knowledge of small-scale dairy producers in disease prevention, management and control.

More information about this project: http://ow.ly/1oub50JgiC6

How one man’s dream is supporting generations

When we meet Moses Kuppa in the outskirts of Iringa town in the southern highlands of Tanzania, his chicken farm is a hive of activities. Two farm hands are busy cleaning the various poultry houses and feeding the more than two thousand chickens. Occasionally, traders arrive at his gate on motorbikes looking to purchase chickens from the farm. At 36-year-old, Moses has accomplished what many small-scale livestock producers aim to achieve, generating a steady income from their produce. But for the father of one, the journey has not been easy. Sheer hard work, passion and knowledge of his trade has contributed to his success as an entrepreneur.

Moses attending to his chicks

Moses started his chicken business back in 2013 with only a few chicks. As with any young business, there were challenges along the way, including having to deal with various poultry diseases that threatened to wipe his entire flock and cut his dreams short. But with time, he gained the knowledge and experiences needed to run a successful poultry farm. Key among the game-changers for his business is hatchery vaccinations. Moses buys his day-old chicks from Silverlands Tanzania, a hatchery that produces high quality poultry feed and day-old chicks which are then sold to smaller businesses and other farmers across the East Africa region. All day-old chicks from Silverland are fully vaccinated from various poultry diseases which gives the farmers peace of mind.

In addition, Silverlands also runs a poultry training college, and it is through these trainings that Moses learned how to properly run his business and deal with challenges such as biosecurity, which is the weakest link for many small-scale poultry farmers.

“We follow all the right processes of production that we have been taught, from feeding, vaccinations and even avoiding mixing the different ages of chickens so that there is no cross-termination.” He says.

Moses then sells his chick from seven weeks old up to nine weeks old to other smaller-scale producers and businesses around. He is what is called a mother-unit, meaning other farmers buy chicks from him to rear and sell to supermarkets, restaurants and even to neighbours for home consumption and social gatherings. By selling his chicks at such a young age, Moses saves on the cost of rearing the chicks to fully grown ages. “Other farmers sell at three months at the same price that I do but having spent a lot extra on the cost of feeds, heating and other essentials,” says Moses.

Moses talks to a trader who has come to purchase chicks from his farm

What Moses has been able to accomplish with his profits is clearly visible. He has built a big family house and at the back, he has constructed modern chicken houses that can house over 2,000 chicks, separated by ages. He also built extra rooms for his relatives who depend on him and help him on the farm.

“My house is built with income from my chicken business. I am no longer renting. Even though I double a bit on crop farming, much of my income comes from my chicken business. I also stay with my brother’s child and other family members who look up to me as their provider.” Says Moses.

Moses has built a modern family house with income from poultry business

A bigger business

But for Moses, this is just the beginning.

“I have big dreams for this business. I want to own a big enterprise and to start exporting chicks regionally. This is my long-term goal.”

In April 2021 GALVmed and animal health company Ceva Santé Animale launched PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow), an initiative that will work with medium-size hatcheries in target countries to annually distribute more than 50 million vaccinated day-old-chicks to farmers such as Moses.

These chicks will be effectively protected against the major infectious poultry diseases thereby improving overall flock health and boosting small-scale producers’ financial prospects.

 Written by Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Senior Communications Manager

Vaccinations boost poultry farming in Burkina Faso

Poultry farming is an important economic activity for many small-scale producers in Burkina Faso, however, farmers’ flocks are constantly threatened by preventable diseases like Newcastle Disease, which can kill up to 90% of unvaccinated chickens.

In 2016, GALVmed partnered with the animal health company LAPROVET to initiate a project in Burkina Faso to vaccinate village poultry against Newcastle Disease. The project has raised awareness about the disease and facilitated training, access and adoption of vaccines.

Gender and Livestock: Exploring the trends in the dynamics of livestock ownership and care in small scale producer households

GALVmed conducted a study to build a better understanding of the household dynamics at play within livestock-owning small-scale producers (SSPs) households in India, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In particular, the study would afford a clearer focus on the issue of gender and livestock. This was considered necessary since previous GALVmed Monitoring and Evaluation studies (focusing on issues such as vaccine adoption, livestock productivity, etc.) had collected gender disaggregated data, but at a fairly limited level of detail. These wider studies have suggested highly variable trends and patterns in terms of livestock ownership and management between adult males and adult females. It was therefore considered necessary to undertake a one-off specialised gender study. This would provide the opportunity to drill considerably deeper into this topic of gender and household dynamics and to provide GALVmed with a much more detailed picture than is afforded through its standard livestock health related studies.

The results of the study revealed clear and illuminating trends. The widely held generalisation that certain species of livestock are the preserve either of men or of women appears to be a misleading over-simplification. Both genders are active participants in the care of all species and children can also play an important role in the upkeep of household livestock. There are, however, clear trends in the activities undertaken by both men and women and, while these vary somewhat across geographies, they can be broadly described as:

  • For poultry: women perform more labour in the ‘daily chore’ type activities (e.g. feeding, cleaning housing etc.) but the input of men increases substantially for the ‘management and money’ type activities (e.g. buying medicines / vaccines, when to sell / slaughter, what to do with poultry income etc.). This increase in involvement by men does not eclipse that of women in these ‘management and money’ type activities. Rather, it suggests that poultry production is a shared household enterprise, albeit with a higher level of input by women.  
  • For small ruminants: noticeable geographical variations exist, although the general trend of more input by men in the ‘management and money’ categories than in the ‘daily chore’ activities continues. In the Ethiopian and Tanzanian study areas, this input by men eclipses that of women, but, even here, approximately 30 – 60% of households have active input by women in ‘management and money’ activities. Again, as a generalisation it seems fair to consider small ruminant production as a shared SSP household enterprise.
  • For large ruminants:  noticeable country variations exist but the perception that women have very little input or say in cattle (aside from milking) is shown to be largely inaccurate. Again, only in the Tanzanian study area is the role of women in ‘management and money’ activities eclipsed by men. As a generalisation, it seems fair to consider large ruminant production as a shared SSP household enterprise, albeit with a higher level of input by men.

The evidence from this study supports the theory that livestock is best considered as a shared household enterprise rather than a specific male or female SSP undertaking. It also highlights the dangers of collecting disaggregated gender data at a shallow or simplified level (as is often necessarily the case when the focus of the study lies elsewhere on animal health and productivity issues). Please see the full study report.

Challenging gender norms in poultry management

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity is what drove Rahma Joseph to start a chicken business. The mother of four from Iringa in Tanzania, was faced with challenges on how to provide for her family and saw an opportunity in poultry business.

“We started with fourteen chickens that were given to us as a group by Care International. We took turns to take care of the chickens and with time, the flock grew to 100,” says Rahma

After a while, some of the group members dropped out of the programme due to various reasons, but Rahma and the few who were left divided the flock that was left and each went their separate ways to take care of their chickens.  She has since grown her flock to around 200 chickens. She makes decisions around their health e.g., vaccinations and also when to sell them.

It is documented that livestock, and especially small stock is an important entry point for promoting women empowerment in rural areas to enable them to break out of the cycle of poverty. Poultry represents an accessible, and low-investment livestock that may help to secure high-quality food and income, especially for rural women-headed households.  It is therefore not uncommon that the first livestock investment that women like Rahma would go for is poultry.

However, it is also documented that as poultry production intensifies in the small-scale segments, and income increases, the level of women’s involvement in poultry management and decision-making declines. The woman’s role is relegated to labour related activities instead. And yet study after study shows that when women have cash, they will spend it on things that improve the quality of life for their family. That means more money for buying food to improve nutrition, schooling for children, visiting a doctor, or even building a toilet. Empowering women to become active decision makers along the value chain is an integral part of getting them out of cyclical poverty.

Nearby in Chanya village, thirty-six-year-old Helena Kindole proudly shows off her new chicken house. She built the house through profits earned from her small poultry business. She is what is known as a mother-unit, meaning she buys day-old chicks from the hatchery and sells them off at a young age, from six months old to other farmers. She has been able to grow her business and can make decisions such as using the profits to build the chicken house.

Women in rural areas are beginning to think more boldly about opportunities available to them, that can improve their livelihoods, status and influence in their homes, communities, and economies. And poultry production is one such avenue.

In April 2021 GALVmed and animal health company Ceva Santé Animale launched PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow), an initiative that will work with medium-size hatcheries in target countries to annually distribute more than 50 million vaccinated day-old-chicks to small-scale poultry producers. PREVENT seeks to be gender intentional,  primarily through Field Technician intervention. PREVENT plans to diminish and reverse the decline of women’s involvement in poultry management activities.

For women like Rahma and Helena, this will be an opportunity to expand their businesses and continue having even greater ability to make decisions on their businesses.

“I would like to build a larger poultry house in order to increase my poultry production and sell more poultry and increase my profit.” concludes Helena.

 Written by Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Senior Communications Manager