Home News General GALVmed call for collaboration to help improve livestock productivity and lift poor out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa

(28 August 2012) During the 19th ALive Executive Committee and General Assembly held in Nairobi, Kenya from 17 to 19 July 2012, GALVmed (the Global Alliance of Livestock Veterinary Medicines) presented its Impetus Strategy Paper, which explains GALVmed’s desire to forge an effective alliance with others in order to drive change in the livestock sector in Africa.

The Impetus Strategy Paper identifies that livestock are fundamental to Africa’s agricultural development, but the sector suffers from a number of problems, including underperformance, a lack of investment and a lack of a focussed approach. Agricultural growth is a proven driver of poverty reduction. When agriculture stimulates growth in Africa, the growth is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth based in other sectors.

At current rates, it is estimated that Africa will be unable to adequately feed half its population by 2015. Despite farmers working harder and more people taking up farming, productivity appears not to have increased.

Currently 160 million poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa keep livestock, with 10% of the population primarily dependent on livestock, and 58% partially dependent on livestock for their livelihoods.

The Impetus Strategy Paper identifies a range of areas in which there is the potential for rapid growth in the livestock sector and the capacity to gain momentum, including around animal health, African livestock trade, ruminant nutrition, rural vet services and contract farming.

Alongside the Impetus Strategy Paper, GALVmed are also publishing a number of research papers from the Royal Veterinary College. These papers, addressing the economic links between livestock and poverty alleviation/livelihoods, show that we need to rethink the way in which we measure, analyse and communicate the contribution of livestock to helping lift the poor out of poverty.

As a result, investment also needs to be done differently, including support for entrepreneurship and technology. There is also a need to look beyond the livestock sector itself, to see what pressures from external influencers are impacting on livestock potential. Through better collaboration between all sectors, livestock productivity can be improved significantly to the benefit of the ultimate beneficiary – the farmer.

Dr Hameed Nuru, GALVmed’s Senior Director, Policy & External Affairs said “Given the criticality of livestock to farmers, GALVmed asked the question ‘Is livestock the fastest route out of poverty’? 

We were not surprised from the Impetus Strategy Paper and Economics papers that ALONE – it is NOT the fastest route out of poverty – we could not prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. 

But the economic facts around Livestock in sub-Saharan Africa show that it plays a significant role  and fundamental part of the complex factors behind the economic wellbeing for potential poor people AND country economies (apart from food and political security!)

So if well managed, livestock underpin economic stability. It cannot therefore be approached in an unfocussed, disjointed or non-inclusive way.

Given the bleak prospects for the future of  sub-Saharan Africa in the next 30 – 50 years where livestock are a critical part of economic DNA of many emerging communities, to treat it in an unfocussed, disjointed or non-inclusive way is unacceptable and economically non-viable as it leaves a key development input to chance.

Can Africa afford that?  GALVmed says ‘NO!’ We are at a crossroads on this and need to act now.

For more information:

Anshul Bakhda, Fleishman-Hillard

(T) +44 (0) 207 395 7102 | (M) +44 (0) 7912578447


About GALVmed

GALVmed (the Global Alliance of Livestock Veterinary Medicines), aims to protect livestock and improving human lives and livelihoods by making livestock vaccines, diagnostics and medicines accessible and affordable to the millions in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline.

It is a UK-based charity with regional offices in Africa and India and is principally funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.