Backyard chickens are a significant source of income and nourishment in developing countries, but outbreaks of poultry diseases like Newcastle Disease (ND) severely affect productivity, flock mortality, and consequently, farmer livelihoods.
GALVmed has made important progress in combating ND with the successful development of two thermotolerant vaccines suitable for the rural environment. Vaccination is a cost-effective means to controlling ND. However, to fully grasp the benefits of vaccination interventions and establish evidence-based approaches for developing future programmes and planning, we need to measure vaccination impacts comprehensively. In order to understand and quantify the causal effects of ND vaccination on poultry production and livelihoods, since 2020, GALVmed has been working with Tufts University and Oxford Policy Management (OPM) to design and implement a Newcastle Disease Vaccine (NDV) intervention paired with a rigorous evaluation in rural areas of Tanzania.
The study encompasses two main activities. Firstly, a Newcastle Disease vaccination intervention in selected small-scale farming areas of Tanzania, specifically in the districts of Chemba and Mbozi. To execute this intervention plan, Community Vaccinators are tasked to visit each registered small-scale producer (SSP) household at their doorstep to:
- Vaccinate chickens with the I-2 Newcastle Disease vaccine, which is administered by the eye-drop method.
- Deliver specific training and knowledge content on the disease, vaccination, and improved poultry-rearing practices.
The second activity involves an experimental study to quantify the causal effects of the Newcastle Disease vaccination intervention. To assess these effects, the impact study was structured as a randomised controlled trial (RCT) where the study sample of intervention villages was randomly divided into two groups for comparison: a treatment group that received the ND vaccination intervention package (vaccination and training), and a control group that did not. The control group will receive one round of the intervention after the study’s endline survey.
Both the vaccination intervention and the impact study are currently underway. OPM has completed all 6 vaccination rounds in the study’s treatment villages with one pending vaccination round to control villages. The households that were selected for the impact study have been interviewed at the project’s outset, followed by a midline assessment, and will again be interviewed at the end of the intervention. The midline survey revealed preliminary positive outcomes with reduced ND outbreaks and chicken mortality due to NDV delivery.
Underlying this intervention is a key assumption that offering NDV at an affordable price to poultry-keeping households in treatment villages, together with the promotion of improved poultry-rearing practices, will yield noteworthy benefits with respect to poultry productivity, income from poultry, household welfare, food consumption, and possibly decisions on income-generating activities.
The findings derived from this study will allow us to make informed decisions regarding ND vaccination and further enhance the effectiveness of our efforts in protecting poultry health and livelihoods.
Further details and final findings will be made available at the end of the intervention in 2024.