It’s Time to Celebrate the Climate Benefits of Livestock Health

This blog was written by GALVmed CEO, Carolin Schumacher.

In recent years, debates about the relationship between livestock and climate change have become dominated by concerns over the carbon and methane emissions of the cattle industry. These concerns are of course valid and need to be part of climate change discussions. But they do not tell the whole story.

In the Global South, a much more nuanced approach to livestock is needed. Here, livestock are the main source of food and income for 600 million people, and are an essential component of national and regional food systems. For millions of small-scale farmers, livestock are at the heart of their lives, livelihoods and cultures. Even though these farmers are under increasing pressures due to climate change, abandoning livestock is simply not an option for them or the countries in which they live.

Fortunately, evidence is growing to show that relatively simple interventions in livestock farming in the Global South can dramatically reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Providing cattle and sheep with a more diverse diet, for example, can reduce methane emissions. In addition, improved land management practices, such as fencing off degraded pasture, have been shown to conserve water, reduce overgrazing and strengthen the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.

Healthy livestock for a healthy planet

GALVmed’s mission to improve livestock health through vaccination also has positive climate and environmental impacts. This might seem surprising, but the science behind it is simple: healthier animals are more productive, while more productive animals emit fewer greenhouse gases relative to the amount of meat or milk they produce. 

Livestock vaccinations also reduce the number of animals that are killed, whether by disease or government-mandated culls, thereby further improving the sector’s productivity and carbon efficiency. By raising fewer healthier animals – rather than many unhealthy ones – farmers require fewer resources, reducing the need to deforest and clear unspoilt habitats for farmland.

GALVmed’s work not only boosts smallholder incomes and supports prosperous and sustainable markets, but also contributes to a greener future and  reduced mortality rates among vaccinated animals. 

The East Coast Fever vaccine, for example, has prevented approximately $119 million worth of cattle deaths, and the new all-in-one treatment for Lumpy Skin Disease, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia and Rift Valley Fever – currently in the stages of registration – looks set to deliver similarly impressive results. In addition to product development, increasing private-sector investment in animal health allows smallholders to choose from an ever-growing stock of quality animal health products, enabling them to rear healthier, more productive livestock. The Global South, stands to benefit enormously from greater private-sector investment in livestock vaccinations and other quality animal health products. 

These benefits will go far beyond improving the lives of animals and farmers. By reducing waste, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and relieving pressures on the natural environment, they stand to positively impact communities, countries and the entire planet – while continuing to support the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest.

Photo: Maasai herder. Arusha, Tanzania, 2015. @GALVmed/Karel Prinsloo, 2015

Vaccine Equality is as Vital for Livestock as for People

Written by Enrique Hernández Pando, GALVmed’s Executive Director, Commercial Development & Impact.

For 33-year-old mother-of-seven and poultry farmer Helena Kindole in Chanya village in Tanzania, one of the main barriers to growing her chicken business is a lack of access to health services. But not for herself or her family – for her animals.

With smallholder poultry farming often a lifeline for millions of low-income and rural families – accounting for 80% of poultry production in the region – access to medicines and vaccines is just as important for livestock as it is for people. And yet, logistical, infrastructural, and supply challenges are hindering access to veterinary services across the African continent and therefore, holding back smallholder productivity.

At the same time, a rapidly industrialising poultry sector in many developed countries, and an increase in grain prices globally, coupled with cheap imports from more developed markets and low access to animal health care is driving inequality between small- and large-scale producers, threatening to squeeze out smallholder poultry farmers.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. Animal health initiatives are helping local hatcheries to vaccinate chicks against common and damaging diseases before selling them to small-scale farmers, who rear the chicks until they are six months old, eventually selling them to neighbours, restaurants, and other businesses nearby.

For women like Helena, who make up nearly half of the global agricultural workforce in developing countries and in sub-Saharan Africa, the poultry sector offers a crucial source of income and healthy animals are essential for decent livelihoods.

Equipping farmers with the right tools can help to set them up for success to compete alongside more industrialised production systems.

Introducing vaccinations at local hatcheries can strengthen small-scale producers’ sustainability and commercial clout. Supporting these hatcheries with the necessary vaccination equipment and expertise means they can provide customers with large numbers of chicks that are vaccinated against common poultry diseases, such as Newcastle disease and Infectious bronchitis, the former of which contributes to 60% of poultry mortalities in many African countries. This reduces the risk of bird loss, contributing to improved income and more successful businesses overall.

PREVENT project in Tanzania/Iringa, 2021, Helena Kindole. Credit: Colin Dames/CEVA

But implementing vaccination measures alone is not enough, as a lack of technical support and knowledge on zoonoses and other infectious diseases that affect poultry can also hinder productivity. Training on animal health practices, market development opportunities, and advice on biosecurity, good management practices, and more are also crucial pieces of the puzzle. Providing this can help to level the playing field between large scale, industrial hatcheries and small-scale producers.

The PREVENT project (Promoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) is one example of an initiative working to improve poultry production for Africa’s rapidly growing population. In just two years, this four-year initiative has administered 159 million vaccine doses and vaccinated 49 million hatchery chicks. It has also trained 100 field technicians who have conducted 2,600 farm visits and held over 1,400 farmer meetings across four countries in sub-Saharan Africa, to date.

A low-input but high-producing sector, raising chickens offers a reliable pathway out of poverty for many rural households. A small-scale producer can easily sell their chicks or chickens at the market as they are more affordable for the consumer than beef, for example, but also bring a myriad of other benefits. They add value to social structures, are high in protein, and, on top of this, can directly benefit women who in fact make up the majority of smallholder poultry farmers in the developing world.

Small-scale chicken farmer in Tanzania/Arusha, 2015. Credit: Karel Prinsloo/GALVmed

Against the backdrop of a global cost of living crisis, record-breaking temperatures, and ongoing conflicts, closing the inequality gap for smallholder farmers is critical to build a sustainable future for all. Supporting small-scale producers with training, animal health measures, and much more can help to level the playing field, one small-scale producer at a time, just like Helena.

From lab to field: an enabling environment ensures innovation reaches farmers

Written by Lois Muraguri, Senior Director of Enabling Environment & Partner Engagement.

After fifteen years of improving livestock health in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, we at GALVmed know the huge impact that new animal health products can have for small-scale livestock farmers, their households, communities and countries. Innovations such as GALVmed’s highly effective Newcastle disease vaccines have unlocked life-changing economic benefits for farmers, enabling them to expand their businesses, improve household nutrition, cover medical bills and send their children to school.

However, we also know that product development is only the first step in improving livestock health in the world’s lower and middle-income countries. By itself, research and development cannot put new animal health technologies in the hands of farmers. For that to happen, there needs to be an enabling policy and regulatory environment that encourages animal health companies to register, distribute and sell their products in new countries.

Poor policy prevents investment

Unfortunately, navigating national policies and regulations around animal livestock is a complex and time-consuming ordeal for many organisations. A recent GALVmed survey of major animal health companies confirmed what we already knew anecdotally: businesses trying to invest in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face significant policy challenges. These include inefficient systems for registering veterinary products, monitoring products in the market, prohibitive taxes or duties on imports and unclear policies on the roles of public and private service providers.

Coupled with the lack of market data and associated risks of investing in lower and middle-income countries, these hurdles are enough to dissuade many companies from selling their products in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. As a result, the private sector misses out on the largely untapped market of small-scale livestock farmers, governments miss out on effective business partners, and most importantly, farmers miss out on incredibly valuable livestock vaccines, therapeutics and other animal health products.

GALVmed is determined to change this.

Creating prosperous, sustainable markets

This is why GALVmed works across the entire livestock value chain – from laboratory to field – to ensure that small-scale livestock farmers can access products best suited to their needs. We collaborate with global organisations, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, that are charged with developing veterinary standards for use in countries. We support national regulators to establish clear, coherent policies. And we leverage our convening power to promote productive collaboration between the public and private sectors, encouraging better use of resources to create prosperous and sustainable markets.

Since 2011, for example, GALVmed has supported the East African Community to implement the Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP) project. This registration system has not only harmonised the technical requirements for registration of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, but has simplified the process by allowing applicants to apply for licences for animal health products in multiple countries simultaneously. By saving time and resources for both the public and private sectors, MRP supports the sustainable supply of quality registered veterinary medicines in East Africa. Since its creation, there has been an increase not only in the number of applications for products in the region, but in the number of companies – African and global – submitting applications.

More recently, GALVmed was instrumental in establishing the Veterinary Inputs Suppliers Association of Kenya (VISAK). Established in 2018 and formally recognised the following year, VISAK is a rapidly growing association of companies involved in the manufacture, import and distribution of animal health products and equipment in Kenya. In just a few years VISAK has come to be seen as a trusted intermediary between regulators and the private sector and a catalyst for local manufacturers.

GALVmed’s efforts to create an enabling environment for sustainable adoption of animal health inputs by small-scale livestock farmers are just as important as our contributions to product development. Only when research and development is paired with clear and effective policies and regulatory systems can innovative animal health products reach farmers. By enabling farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to choose from a growing range of quality registered products, GALVmed is working with its partners to improve livestock health, boost business, support governments and strengthen farmer livelihoods.

Quantifying our impact: A modelling framework to estimate the economic benefits of our initiatives

As an organisation with a wide geographic footprint across Africa and South Asia, it is challenging to assess the impact of our programmes at scale using rigorous field studies. However, together with our wider network of funders and partners, we need to know that the investments we are making are producing productivity and income benefits for small-scale livestock producers (SSPs) that warrant the financial investment in these initiatives.

In this regard, we partnered with Supporting Evidence based Interventions-Livestock (SEBI-L) to develop a model for practical use for our market development programmes. The model is used to estimate the economic impact of the initiatives on SSPs, prioritise product development decisions, and to direct market development effort. Furthermore, these analyses can be used to advocate for further investment in the SSP animal health sector.

In a paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the model was applied to estimate the impact of products sold during GALVmed’s People and Livelihoods 2 (PL2) programme. The PL2 programme, which was implemented between 2014 and 2017 in Africa and South Asia, supported the production and distribution of poultry anthelminthics and vaccines against Newcastle disease, fowl pox, sheep and goat pox, peste des petits ruminants, and East Coast fever.

The modelling framework

The model is conceptualised in terms of three components:

  • Products: this includes sales of products and the number of animals that are expected to be treated with the product (depending on the different pack sizes).
  • Disease epidemiology: this comprises the conditions that are treated, number of infections, mortality rates and impact on growth rate.
  • Economics: this comprises losses from reduced productivity and losses from livestock mortality.

The economic impacts from mortality and growth inhibition are estimated at the individual animal level for poultry, small ruminants, and cattle. As SSPs are using veterinary products to prevent or minimise loss due to disease, we model the key ways in which those losses are experienced by SSPs and estimate the proportion of those losses that are averted by using specific animal health products. By factoring in the cost of the product and the number of doses sold, we give the net economic benefit (NEB).

The model can be adapted to incorporate new products and parameters as needed. The framework will evolve as GALVmed initiatives change over time.

The results

The model estimates a total NEB of $105.1M to the 3,664,114 customers reached by the PL2 initiatives. This translates to $139.9M in present value, and $37.97 on average per customer, many of whom were small scale poultry producers.

Within Sub-Saharan Africa, the greatest net economic benefit was realized from vaccines against East Coast fever and Newcastle disease, while in South Asia, peste des petits ruminants and Newcastle disease vaccines had the greatest net economic benefits.

The paper with the complete results and analysis is available here: A high level estimation of the net economic benefits to small-scale livestock producers arising from animal health product distribution initiatives.

By understanding how GALVmed’s interventions translate into economic benefit for SSPs, we can continuously refine and optimise our approaches, ultimately driving a greater positive change in the economic progression and well-being of SSPs across Africa and South Asia.

This blog was written by the M&E team.

Barriers to livestock health market: Distribution of products

A simple definition of distribution in business is the delivery or supply of goods and services to users or consumers. Although distribution may involve various functions e.g., sourcing of raw materials, inventory control, warehousing, logistics, marketing channels, etc., efficient delivery of products or services to customers is one of the important objectives of the service in a business.

Like in other sectors, businesses in animal health also have as their objective efficient delivery of their products, often for a profit to ensure sustainability. While achievable, it is a however a challenge or a barrier in markets comprised predominantly of small-scale livestock producers (SSPs).

In a survey conducted by GALVmed in July 2020, approximately half of the respondents identified 1) issues around levels of market information to drive investment and level of manufacturing capacity dedicated to the SSP sector and product registration, and 2) issues around time, effort, and expense required to register products in target countries as the biggest barriers in the animal health supply chain in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The survey was conducted amongst a range of professionals across the supply chain of livestock animal health products, into the key constraints and opportunities facing the animal health industry in SSA. Other issues identified included local retailing – issues around geographic dispersion, levels of customer service, product offering and product care; animal health services – issues around numbers and levels of training/incentivisation for effective support of the SSP sector and SSP customer demand; and issues around levels of animal health awareness, general husbandry and productivity. All these contribute to challenges in the overall level of demand for animal health products from within this sector.

Although only the major issues identified by respondents are highlighted above, what is clear from the survey is that barriers to efficient delivery of products to SSPs, span the entire animal health value chain i.e., from manufacturing to end-users.

The survey confirmed many of the barriers that continue to impede the efficient delivery of animal health products to SSPs, which GALVmed has and continues to address, through its projects and in partnership with other industry players. GALVmed strives to increase awareness, adoption, and availability of animal health products to SSPs by addressing challenges such as lack of warehousing and cold chain facilities, poor animal health services, SSP awareness and education, and last-mile delivery of products and services to SSPs in remote rural areas.  

GALVmed’s interventions are in line and supports some of the solutions suggested by respondents, which included harmonisation and simplification of registration procedure, improving infrastructure for cold chain, and awareness and training of SSPs.

While barriers exist, GALVmed has demonstrated through the years that, given the livestock population numbers and their importance in improving livelihoods, the SSP market segment presents a huge potential for the animal health sector. GALVmed is therefore working with partners on a proposed platform known as the Integrated Intelligent Logistic and Supply Chain Platform, to address strategies and interventions that will potentially transform distribution of animal health products in SSA. A prioritised component of the platform will be diseases awareness, in line with the solutions suggested by survey respondents.

The Integrated Intelligent Logistics and Supply Chain Platform is one of three proposed platforms to deliver a comprehensive, financially sustainable solution that will unlock new opportunities for growth in the animal health industry.

Written by Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, Africa.

Barriers in the livestock health market: Service provision

Animal health services and products are still out of reach for millions of Small-Scale Producers (SSPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA). One of the reasons for this is that even though SSPs account for a large number of animal keepers in SSA and SA – 35% of cattle head and 43% of sheep and goat head of world respectively, they are scattered, concentrated in rural areas and operate their production on low input, low output system. This makes animal health service provision challenging. SSPs also have less to spend on animal health further pushing away veterinary service from their reach. A veterinary service provider needs to travel long distances to visit just a few farms and a smaller number of animals, which makes their services costly. Consequently, SSPs tend not to treat their animals or in the instances that they do, they get advice from less qualified people and use low-quality medicines inappropriately. This often leads to bigger issues such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  It also means a large percentage of animal heads are dying before maturity or performing below capacity after surviving, in absence of effective and reliable animal health service provision.

Filling the gap

More veterinarians are needed to serve and supervise Veterinary paraprofessionals (VPP) work. But this is easier said than done and has been a problem for decades. The ratio of veterinarians to livestock in African countries is 20 times lower than the developed part of the world like Denmark, France, USA. In India, only half of the required number of vets are available currently. In SSA and SA, a small number of veterinarians along with VPPs are expected to carry out a range of animal health services – from vaccination to diagnosis and treatment. This is a big challenge for public, private, and non-profit sectors involved in overall livestock and poultry development to help a large number of SSPs.

One solution that has been tested is filling this gap with trained community-based animal health workers, who perform basic services like vaccination and de-worming. GALVmed for example has worked with trained community animal health workers in supervision of veterinarians in the delivery of millions of doses of Newcastle Disease vaccines to backyard poultry producers. These projects not only served SSPs at their doorstep but also created sustainable employment in rural areas. However, it is not without challenges; including lack of proper visibility of their operations by few veterinarians, making their work difficult to track to ensure quality.

What next then?

The demand for veterinary services in these regions is only going to increase, but the number of vets perhaps not so.  Which is why we need to look at other innovative measures that can help us reach SSPs with services and products. Digital interventions like tele-health platforms have the potential to address some of these requirements, considering the fast growth in the use of the Internet and mobile phones.

Tele-health platforms can quickly connect animal health service providers with SSPs and cut down the unwanted expense in travel and time. Veterinarians can supervise the work of VPPs remotely; diseases and outbreaks can be reported quickly; quality consultation and prescription can stop the use of inferior and fake medicine, and can also help in reducing AMR. Consequently, more animals will survive and produce more to contribute to overall food and nutritional security.

GALVmed is working with partners and veterinary authorities to develop a Telehealth and e-commerce platform with the aim of making products and veterinarian-supervised services available and accessible to SSPs. The Telehealth and e-commerce platform is one of three proposed platforms to deliver a comprehensive, financially sustainable solution that will unlock new opportunities for growth in the animal health industry.

Written by Peetambar Kushwaha, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, South Asia.

Barriers to livestock health market: Intelligence

A thriving, sustainable animal health inputs (AHI) industry is what we need in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) such as those in Africa. This is where value chain players operate profitably to get the products and services to the farmer who is the ultimate beneficiary. In these regions, a large proportion of agriculture production is contributed by small-scale farmers. According to Africa Development Bank Group, 75% of production and employment in East Africa is contributed by small-holder farming. Unfortunately, while progress has been made in other sectors such as trade and services, agriculture still lags behind.

The barriers to trade in AHI have led to LMICs markets being insufficiently attractive to sustain the case for investment in the development of targeted products and markets by multinational companies, which typically have research and development capacity. In entities that exist to gain their shareholders a return on equity, there is competition for capital which tends to be concentrated in the most profitable areas. Some of the barriers to trade in LMICs include incomplete market information which hinders the sizing of the opportunity, packaging not small enough to suit the predominant small-scale producer segment, presence of poor-quality products due to reasons such as counterfeiting, incomplete or inefficient distribution networks that don’t optimally reach producers, cold chain issues due to energy and infrastructure inadequacy, demand aggregation to sustain large scale manufacture, or development of veterinary service resources among others.

GALVmed through the implementation of its new 2030 commercial development strategy, is looking to work with partners to address some of these barriers through bespoke platforms, one of which being the Market Intelligence Platform (MIP).

The AHI’s current size and future potential in sub-Saharan Africa must be better understood. With a significant lack of data, the industry tends to rely on best estimates and use incomplete and unreliable information. This is augmented with substantial levels of guesswork and approximations. The situation is highly undesirable and harmful for two reasons:

One, the industry’s best estimates can be wildly inaccurate and tend to be significant underestimates. For example, a comprehensive, bottom-up assessment of the Kenyan market by AgNexus Africa has recently valued the market at $110M p.a. Previous industry best estimates had typically placed the market in the region of $45 – $50 M p.a.

Secondly, industry investments reflect the degree of confidence in the underlying markets. The need for more reliable data for the African market greatly amplifies the uncertainty around this market, and industry investments in the region consequently suffer.

The outcome of this information shortfall contributes to a significantly reduced animal health industry investment in Africa. Many manufacturers either avoid the region entirely or limit and drip-feed their investments. The consequences are felt not only in the manufacturer’s marketing and distribution activities but also in R&D, where it is extremely difficult to justify development projects for African-specific products. For African small-scale livestock producers (SSP), this has important and far-reaching consequences. Product availability, product quality, and product prices are all negatively impacted. This translates to poorer animal health outcomes, lower SSP livestock productivity, and poorer SSP livelihoods.

For these reasons, the proposed Market Intelligence Platform which aims at both sizing the current and estimating the future markets through techniques such as advanced analytics will enhance animal health market transparency, improve decision-making, reduce business risk, indirectly improve market efficiency, and promote access to animal health markets. This will contribute to a more developed industry in the coming years.

Written by Tom Osebe, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, Africa.

Using bespoke technologies could address market barriers in the small-scale livestock sector

Small-scale farming account for a large part of the farming industry in low and middle-income countries. Despite small-scale livestock producers’ key role in the agricultural industry, existing market barriers and constraints hinder their opportunities to access high-quality animal health products and services.

Different market barriers are present across the entire value chain and deter animal health companies from investing in these markets. Some of the major barriers identified are lack of reliable market information and market entry, proper distribution mechanisms of products, scattered demand, or service provision.

As part of GALVmed’s Strategy2030, we are proposing a dedicated focus on collaborating with different partners and veterinary authorities to develop tailored technology platforms to bridge the gaps and overcome these market barriers. This suggested platform approach marks a significant change in GALVmed commercial development strategy. Whereas previously, a single commercial partner would spearhead a single initiative, the new approach will enable the entire industry to plug into a benefit from a single platform. By collectively addressing the key constraints facing the entire animal health value chain, the proposed platforms have the potential to deliver a comprehensive, financially sustainable solution that will unlock new opportunities for growth in the animal health industry.

With this proposed approach, the end goal is to significantly increase investment in the small-scale sector by the animal health industry, and improve market supply and adoption of key animal health products that will grant better opportunities to small-scale producers to protect their livestock and secure their livelihoods.

This blog was written as part of the campaign “Barriers to Animal Health Markets”

Celebrating 2 years of achievements with PREVENT

Poultry is an affordable and accessible asset for small-scale producers in Africa, but the effectiveness of vaccination has been limited and rural producers can have their flocks wiped out overnight due to preventable diseases.

PREVENT was launched in April 2021 as an initiative to establish an innovative and pragmatic veterinary health approach in Africa through medium-size hatchery vaccination. PREVENT comprises various workstreams and operations that are connecting the key pieces to achieve this endgame, and in this blog, we explore some of our achievements so far.

  • Hatchery vaccination: The initiative aims to equip 36 mid-size African hatcheries with the necessary equipment and expertise (vaccination techniques, maintenance, hatchery biosecurity practice, quality assurance, and vaccination monitoring) so that the hatcheries will be able to provide customers with large numbers of chicks vaccinated against the major infectious poultry diseases. Farmers and poultry producers buying these vaccinated chicks will have better chances at ensuring flock health, reducing risk of bird losses, securing income, and overall, running more successful businesses. PREVENT has launched activities in 8 countries (Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe) and onboarded 24 hatcheries so far. This has allowed the initiative to administer 109 million doses of vaccines to 37 million day-old chicks (an average of 3 vaccine doses per chick). Diseases against which the chicks are vaccinated include Infectious bursal disease, Newcastle disease, Infectious bronchitis, and Marek’s disease.
  • Training and market development: Vaccination alone is not enough, and the lack of technical support and information about circulating infectious diseases is also a major constraint. To date, PREVENT has trained 100 Field Technicians in Tanzania, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Ethiopia to provide advice and technical support to small-scale poultry keepers. In serving as the link between the hatcheries and the poultry farmers, the field technicians will also foster demand for, and create markets for vaccinated day-old chicks. Since activities started in September 2022, these field technicians have visited 1,800 farms and held over 100 meetings with farmers.
  • Gender inclusion: The PREVENT initiative seeks to bring a pragmatic level of understanding of gender dynamics within the poultry sector with the goal of positively impacting women chicken producers through the hatchery intervention. To serve this purpose, a rapid gender landscaping analysis was conducted in 3 countries representing East, West, and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe).
  • Epidemiological studies: This is an integrated component of the initiative that aims to explore and describe the epidemiology of poultry diseases at the level of small-scale poultry producers. To date, activity has started in Tanzania, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire where 52 samples have been collected.

Introducing changes upstream, at the hatchery level, echoes the positive impact all the way down to the farmer level, and contributes to creating a sound and sustainable system that will lead to an improvement in poultry productivity and efficiency in the targeted African countries.

April 2023 marks the second anniversary of this 4-year initiative. Much has been achieved so far, and much is yet to come.

The PREVENT initiative (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) is a partnership between Ceva Santé Animale (a global veterinary health company) and GALVmed, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This blog was written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the campaign “Celebrating 2 years of PREVENT”

The relation between gender inclusion and food security 

Gender blindness in agriculture and in the livestock sector in particular, continues to limit production in many rural areas, and evidence shows that the more gender inequality there is in a country, the hungrier and more malnourished people are. But what is the relation between gender inclusion and food security? 

Socially constructed roles and cultural practices, rules and beliefs, are some of the reasons for food insecurity and poverty in many developing countries. Although society or community defined roles for members are not in themselves a bad thing, the issue comes when it leads to skewed or unfair allocation of resources and unequal power relations. Women are involved in raising livestock, but they normally do not have equal access to land, labour, feed, credit and capital, and veterinary services among others.  

In any increasingly populated society, there is a growing demand for food security and livestock source foods such milk, eggs and meat. Although women make up two-thirds of rural livestock keepers, they continue to face various constrains that limit them from achieving optimal livestock production and agricultural development. Addressing these constraints and providing access to the same level of resources as men, would increase agricultural productivity by up to 30%.

The empowerment of women in the livestock sector is fundamental to achieve gender inclusion and equality. This can be accomplished by, among others, creating opportunities and improving women’s access to resources including land, technical skills and capital. Women’s ownership, whether of land or livestock, and decision making (e.g. income from livestock) are some of the issues that should also be addressed.  

However, any gender initiative, whether targeted or transformative, that does not simultaneously aim at addressing the gender cultural norms and rules, will result in limited advances. Initiatives aimed at increasing access and/or providing opportunities for women and girls should include educational programs to change society’s entrenched gender beliefs and attitude systems, to avoid backlashes and unintended consequences that would reverse the gains.  

Women’s empowerment is not only beneficial to them but to society, as it has a positive impact on agricultural development and contributes to food security. 

Written by Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, GALVmed’s Senior Manager, Commercial Development & Impact, Africa