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Research-backed recommendations to improve veterinary vaccine delivery for smallholder farmers


Four projects funded by the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund have used participatory approaches to make decisions and implement innovations that remove barriers to animal vaccination. The research teams worked with local communities, professionals, governments, civil society and others in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Nepal and Ghana. The aim was to better understand the needs and capacities of the livestock vaccine systems in each location, and the barriers that prevent farmers from participating in the value chains, whether as vaccinators, vaccine providers, distributors or end users. 

Small livestock such as chickens and goats provide vital food and income for hundreds of millions of livestock farmers globally. But many smallholder livestock farmers in low- and middle-income countries lack access to vaccines that can keep their animals healthy, despite vaccines being plentiful in many of these countries. 

Historically, research has not addressed the gender-based barriers that prevent women — who account for two thirds of the world’s livestock farmers — and other marginalized farmers from vaccinating their animals. By engaging with local decision-makers and stakeholders, researchers are generating new evidence about the specific needs and capacities of farmers and livestock vaccine systems in each location — in particular, how farmers can better benefit from and participate in vaccine value chains.  

Practical recommendations for effective policy 

The research teams have produced eight detailed, evidence-based policy briefs — with recommendations tailored to each host country — that will help strengthen the countries’ vaccine systems while supporting gender equity and women’s economic and social empowerment. During the course of the research, strong themes emerged about how to improve vaccine access in the various locales:  

  • Deliver additional training in soft skills — Training veterinarians and animal health workers in skills such as gender awareness, better communications, conflict management and empathic listening enables them to provide better services to farmers. Researchers in Machakos, Kenya found that offering additional training and advisory services for women farmers and providers of animal health services assists in delivering timely information and technology transfer to clients who need it most. The research team in Karamoja, Uganda recommended working with curricula committees to integrate gender knowledge and communication skills into training for veterinarians and animal service providers.  
  • Invest in better cold-chain infrastructure — Establishing better vaccine storage points and infrastructure — and stocking storage points to accommodate optimal vaccination schedules — is key to making vaccines more accessible and effective for livestock farmers who live in remote areas. Researchers working in Makueni, Kenya noted a 37% increase in the number of chickens vaccinated once storage points had been established. Researchers in Ghana determined that such improvements require the participation of the private sector, which can be enabled through a supportive regulatory framework for public-private partnerships.  
  • Recruit across gender, caste and ethnicity — Recruiting more women of different castes, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds into veterinary programs can expand the reach into communities where women are livestock keepers. Researchers in Ghana found that empowering women to lead livestock farmers at the community level can play an important role in scaling the distribution of livestock vaccines. The Nepal policy brief noted that existing animal health service providers, as well as the  parents of girl students, may need additional sensitization interventions to reduce barriers and create support for more women to enter into animal health services. 
  • Professionalize community animal health workers — Supporting community vaccinators and animal health workers (who, in many settings, are unrecognized and unregulated) with a more robust regulatory environment would promote upward accountability and improve the relationship between these workers and their supervisors. Researchers in Kaffrine, Senegal pinpointed better regulation as one way of making such jobs more attractive to workers. 

Comprehensive policy briefs 

Each research team produced policy briefs that include analyses of the work in various communities and locations, key messages and practical policy recommendations.  

For more information about the research projects, access the full policy briefs: 

The Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund is a joint initiative supported by Global Affairs Canada, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and IDRC that works through partnerships to develop vaccines that are affordable, available and acceptable to livestock smallholders and to facilitate their use at scale, targeting livestock diseases that have the most impact on both women and men livestock smallholders in low- and middle-income countries.