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Droughts have always occurred in the Horn of Africa, but in the past few years they have begun happening much more frequently.  An award-winning scheme of index-based livestock insurance could provide a lifeline for millions of pastoralists whose livelihoods are affected by drought. There is no need to wait for a drought to become severe, for animals to die, or people to starve. Instead this scheme can help resilent pastoralists deal with climate shocks before they happen.Presenters Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton take a look at how the insurance works, and why it is needed.The index-based livestock insurance project at ILRI is run with the help of a variety of partners, including the World Bank, Cornell University, UC Davis, and the Kenyan government.This episode features a clip from a video interview with Guyo Malicha Roba by The Elephant.Learn more:After 10 years in Kenya and Ethiopia, are we ready to scale up livestock insurance in the Horn of Africa?ILRIDrought Management in Kenya Should Pivot from Crisis to Risk ManagementThe Elephant
Many countries locked down in the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, trying to protect the public from infections and illness. But a new wave of research is examining how containment measures came with costs, too. Particularly for the 1 in 12 people in the world who are also smallholder farmers, responsible for producing most of the food in low- or middle-income countries.Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton hear from ILRI scientist Jim Hammond, whose team interviewed nearly 10,000 farmers across nine low-income countries. Hammond reveals the lasting effect of pandemic restrictions on these farmers, and what countries need to do in the future to shield these farmers from falling into crisis.Read the full report here.
"I’ve learned that using the simplest words doesn’t make you less of a scientist. It can actually make you a great scientist."Sarah Nyanchera Nyakeri is an MSc fellow at the International Livestock Research Institute where she is researching the development of a better vaccine for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP). She is also the winner of the recent ILRI CapDev challenge which seeks to find the best science communicators amongst the next generation of livestock researchers. She is also the host and producer of 'The Vulnerable Scientist' podcast which focuses on scientists' stories about their daily lives, work, and how they got to where they are. From one podcaster to others, Elliot Carleton and Brenda Coromina talk to Sarah to find out more about her podcast, and what it unexpectedly reveals about being a scientist. This special interlude episode touches on failures, being a woman in science, role models in science, and more. Don't forget to check out Sarah's podcast afterwards!
In the early 1900s, cattle herds across South Africa were devastated by a new livestock disease. Today, more than 100 years later, that disease is called East Coast fever, and despite scientists' best efforts to control it, the disease continues to devastate cattle and livelihoods across the dozen African countries where it is endemic. In this episode, presenters Elliot Carleton and Brenda Coromina speak with ILRI scientist Vish Nene as they examine what makes East Coast fever such a devastating disease, and more importantly, how modern vaccines may be able to address it. 
Little is known about how bacteria spread through different sections of a city. Now the most extensive study of its kind uncovers some critical answers of how bacteria move through Nairobi, lessons that could have implications for the wider world. After all, what is being seen in Nairobi today could easily be in New York or Paris by tomorrow morning.Presenters Elliot Carleton and Brenda Coromina hear from ILRI scientists Dishon Muloi and Eric Fèvre as they find out how urbanisation could produce the next disease outbreak.Read more:A new model of pathogen transmission in developing urban landscapesMusic: Flute Song by Moby courtesy of
If you're not a researcher, why should you care about science? Why does science communication matter to research?In the second of a two-parter featuring ILRI Emeritus Fellow Susan MacMillan, Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton question what the difference is between science communication, and science advocacy, finding out how the International Livestock Research Institute's (ILRI) communications have changed over the years, and why. "We're not science for science's sake," says Susan of ILRI. "We have a mission. We have to go further than just the science."They discuss how social media can be a positive force for science, and what science writing has in common with storytelling. It's not enough to simply put the information out in easy-to-understand terms. Science communication is a big responsibility, and can have a tremendous impact on the world. So whose voice should be heard - and who should be doing the storytelling? 
Susan MacMillan knows why livestock matter. An ILRI Emeritus Fellow, she has led public awareness and advocacy communications at ILRI for nearly 33 years. In the latest episode of The Boma, Elliot Carleton and Brenda Coromina find out how Susan went from being an Ohio native who had never even glimpsed a living cow, to becoming one of the most passionate advocates for livestock farming in developing countries today. In a wide-ranging and informative talk she explains how the modern stigma against livestock farming in some countries was born from good intentions, her respect for vegetarians and vegans, and why livestock matter for countless people in the world today and tomorrow. Listen to the episode to find out what Susan thinks the future of livestock will look like.And listen to Susan Macmillan and Lora Iannotti go deeper into the nutritional benefits of livestock-derived foods in Season 1 Episode 6 of The Boma: 'Animal-source foods for people and the planet'.Further reading:ILRI's Jimmy Smith on the livestock controversies holding back greater use of milk, meat and eggs to nourish the undernourishedLivestock and livelihoodsLivestock and the rural poorMusic: Atakte 3 by Moby courtesy of
Livestock provide vital nutrition and income for numerous households in developing countries. And it's often women who do the bulk of the work caring for the animals. But this doesn't mean they reap the benefits. In many communities, women are excluded from making management decisions about livestock, like when to sell them, or how to treat them. They also don't get to control the income that the livestock generate, or the valuable livestock products made. And this is particularly the case for the larger, more valuable animals, like cattle. How can livestock farming help build gender equality in such communities, instead of repeating traditional and unequal gender norms?  ILRI’s research is part of many worldwide efforts to empower women and girls. The second season of The Boma kicks off with an episode for International Women's Day 2022, taking a close look at ILRI's Women in Business project, which empowers women to benefit from chicken farming in Ethiopia and Tanzania. Presenters and Princeton-in-Africa Fellows Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton talk to Alessandra Galiè, Gender Team Leader at ILRI, Upendo Ramadhani Simba, a university graduate of animal sciences who began as a chicken vendor through the project, and Adolf Jeremiah, a research field coordinator at ILRI with a background on gender and youth programming.
There's a growing problem across the world, one that could make keeping livestock outdoors almost impossible in just a few decades, and jeopardize the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. That problem is heat stress, caused by rising temperatures and global warming. It's a serious problem which is already affecting livestock health and welfare, particularly in outdoor farming, and subtropical or tropical zones. In the last episode of this season, presenters Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton hear from Philip Thornton, ILRI scientist and one of the top 50 most influential climate scientists worldwide. He warns about the consequences of living in a world where two-thirds of all cattle could be at risk of heat stress, along with many other livestock species. What options are there for mitigation and adaptation? And whose responsibility will it be to avert disaster? Listen to The Boma to find out!
As long as we have had ways to destroy microbes, microbes have been fighting back. Alexander Fleming, who discovered the world's first antibiotic, penicillin, warned that misusing antibiotics could lead to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). He was right. Today AMR can be found worldwide and is a serious problem. If it is not tackled now, by 2050 one person will die every three seconds because of AMR.The Boma presenters Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton explore how resistance develops, the scale of the problem, and why it can be found in the most surprising places. Today's episode features Arshnee Moodley, the leader of the Antimicrobial Resistance Hub at ILRI. She talks us through what action countries need to take against AMR to avert a grim future, and why each country needs a different plan. High-income countries can apply resources and large investments against AMR in ways which low-income countries can't. But AMR isn't just a high income problem or a low income problem. With the ease at which it can spread around the Earth, it's everybody's problem. 
Livestock farmers use antibiotics to treat infections in their animals, and may also use them as a preventative. But overuse of antibiotics can create 'superbugs' - antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria which threaten human lives and wellbeing, as well as those of livestock animals.Presenters Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton explore one approach that ILRI scientists are taking to combat the AMR problem - phages. These 'bacteria-eating' viruses, which naturally exist in the environment, are being studied by ILRI scientists to develop an alternative treatment to antibiotics. They hear from 'phage hunters' Angela Makumi and Nicholas Svitek about how phages work, what makes them different from antibiotics, and what it will take to make phage therapy a reality.Could phages become our future weapon of choice against bacteria?Read more: Phages: The viruses that offer a sustainable alternative to antibiotic treatment in livestock
As the pandemic pushes global malnutrition to rates not seen in more than a decade, how can livestock products like milk, meat and eggs help? And how do we weigh the nutritional benefits of livestock, particularly in the developing world, against the fact that livestock can be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions?In this episode of The Boma, presenters Brenda Coromina and Elliot Carleton talk to Lora Iannotti, a specialist in child and maternal nutrition, as they explore why context and food choices matter when it comes to avoiding malnutrition.Award-winning holistic farmer Emma Naluyima explains how integrated farming techniques can reduce the carbon footprint of livestock farming, and gives her vision for how children can become responsible global citizens of the future.Finally, Susan MacMillan, Emeritus Fellow at ILRI, describes her dream future for livestock in a more equitable and sustainable world.-----Criticism of animal farming in the west risks health of world's poorest - The Guardian, September 2021New report from UN Nutrition untangles risks and benefits of food from livestock for sustainable healthy diets, focusing on challenges linked to both abundance and scarcity - ILRI, June 2021
If sub-Saharan Africa produces just 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the livestock sector just a fraction of those, why should the governments of these countries be concerned?Because there's much more to the story. The intensity of the emissions is higher in these countries than in others, and the livestock sector is growing in size every year. In the second part of a mini-series on climate change and livestock, presenter Tim Offei-Addo speaks to ILRI scientists Polly Ericksen and Klaus Butterbach-Bahl to find out what makes these emissions so important, and what can be done about it.Ericksen and Butterbach-Bahl explain how ILRI helps to collect data about greenhouse gas emissions in sub-Saharan Africa, equipping countries with the means to tell an accurate story of their climate emissions to the international community. And they warn that as developed countries vilify livestock as a major producer of greenhouse gases, this could prevent crucial investments in livestock in the developing world. Investing in livestock in sub-Saharan Africa could help mitigate emissions, help poor farmers earn a livelihood and produce more food. Is there a place for livestock to be part of the solution, and not the problem, for climate change?
How do we intensify livestock to feed the global south, but also mitigate climate emissions? Is it possible to increase livestock productivity while decreasing its environmental cost?Tim Offei-Addo returns to the Boma to talk to three ILRI  researchers - Esther Kihoro, Todd Crane and Renee Bullock - who want the world to know that to begin to answer that question we must first understand the people who are doing the farming.It's not enough, they say, to think up ways to reduce climate emissions from livestock. What's good for the crop farmer who needs cattle for draught will not be good for the roaming Maasai herder. If dairy production becomes more commercialised, what will happen to the women who provide so much the labor in household farms? And cattle farming is more than a means of producing milk to many people - it is embedded in their culture, essential for status, marriage, finances, and many more purposes.Livestock systems vary greatly around the world and can enhance or harm the environment depending on how they are managed. Listen to this two-part mini-series looking at the tricky relationship between livestock and climate change.ILRI's work on climate change adaptation and mitigationEnvironment news and researchProgramme for climate-smart livestock systems
Why One Health matters

Why One Health matters


One Health is traditionally defined as the collaboration of several disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment -- but what exactly does this mean, and what does it look like in practice? Today’s episode of The Boma features food expert Hung Nguyen, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health Program at ILRI. Hung takes us through how his childhood in a rural area of north Vietnam sparked his interest in livestock, public health, and then One Health. One of the challenges to the One Health approach remains the collaboration of different sectors, something that Vietnam has been unusually successful at managing. Hung provides insight into Vietnam as a case study for successfully integrating One Health, and One Health as a core consideration for global health concerns.ONE HEALTHOne Health Arguing the Case for Massive Investments in One Health ONE HEALTH AND WET MARKETSOne Health: Key to Sustainable Livestock-- and Human and Environmental -- Health Despite Contamination Concerns, Africa Must Embrace “Wet Markets” as Key to Food Security 
Covid-19 has had the world at a stand-still since early last year and yet we are still trying to find out how the pandemic started. Did the virus come directly from a bat, a different wild animal, was it spread by frozen food, or was it even leaked from a lab?  A report published at the end of March by the World Health Organization and a joint team of scientists begins to unravel the mystery of the origins of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.  Tim Offei-Addo sat down with Hung Nguyen-Viet, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health Program at ILRI, to discuss his experience traveling to Wuhan as part of the team trying to find the origins of the pandemic. 
There have been over 22,000 studies on the best ways for farmers to feed their livestock. But how many have looked at whether farmers actually benefited?Jeremy Cherfas interviews Isabelle Baltenweck, leader of the Policies, Institutions and Livelihoods, about the differences and distances between livestock researchers and livestock farmers.
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