A community of practice emerges to drive data-driven policies and investments across Africa and South Asia

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In the global South, the livestock sector grapples with insufficient funding, partly due to a lack of capacity for evidence-based policy analysis and critical data. However, enhancing investments in the livestock sector can offer solutions to diverse challenges faced by livestock-dependent households like climate adaptation and women’s empowerment. 

From 4-7 December, participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Senegal, Benin, Tunisia, Egypt, India and Nepal—key regions with a stake in the livestock sector—came together for the ‘Capacity Building to Support Regional Livestock Master Plan (LMP)’ workshop in Popenguine, Senegal. Organised by the CGIAR Sustainable Animal Productivity (SAPLING) initiative and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the workshop aimed to enable participants to make substantial contributions to the planning and development of the livestock sector within their own country-contexts. 

The workshop’s outcomes encompassed enriched proficiency in tools for enhanced evidence-based policy and foresight analysis, knowledge sharing on LMP development and implementation and the establishment of a community-of-practice fostering continuous south-south cooperation.

Participant sharing an overview of the livestock sector in Nigeria (ILRI / Madeline Wong).

Developing capacity on essential tools for livestock sector strategy

Due to the lack of capacity for evidence-based policy analysis and a shortage of critical data, stakeholders struggle to measure and communicate the potential impact of livestock sector investments on poverty reduction and economic growth. To accurately show and model this impact, workshop participants were introduced to three tools: 

  • The Livestock Sector Investment and Policy Toolkit (LSIPT) emerged from a collaboration between the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and ILRI. LSIPT allows comprehensive quantitative analysis of constraints within the livestock sector and the potential impact of proposed interventions on economic growth and poverty alleviation. 
  • The multi-market economic model (LSS-RDSEM) promises a more nuanced foresight analysis by accommodating variables such as gender, environmental factors, digital readiness and financial inclusion for a more flexible framework for livestock sector planning and development. 
  • The General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS) is a modeling language that allows modelers to quickly translate real world optimization problems into computer code, creating flexibility for economists to solve problems by running simulations. 

Givious Sisito, biometrician at Matopos Research Institute, Bulawayo, shared how he could implement this training in his own work and country context: 

Back home in Zimbabwe, I plan to use this training for completing an investment analysis to activate private sector engagement, exchanging knowledge with key ministries and departments, developing capacity to train trainers in my country, carrying out a baseline data collection and linking the LMP to other sector-level strategies.

Sharing practical experiences on Livestock Master Plans

An LMP is a five-year sector investment plan that combines investment analysis with a comprehensive budget. It serves as a guide for sustainable livestock sector development in a country, striving to bolster the economy, reduce poverty, augment revenue contribution, enhance food security and promote nutrition through increased consumption. As Sisito shared, familiarising participants with these tools enables them to support LMPs and contribute to livestock sector strategies in their respective sub-regions. 

At the request of its government, Tanzania was the second country to develop an LMP. The Tanzania Livestock Master Plan (T-LMP) was launched in 2018 and completed in 2022. Francis Makusaro, economist at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLF) in Tanzania and member of the original expert team that developed the T-LMP, shared the plan’s impact: 

Our LMP was a big achievement for the livestock sector. For the first time, livestock did better than crops. The private sector invested a lot in red meat and dairy, increasing the flow of foreign currency into our country. The LMP was a roadmap for investors to see where the opportunities are. 

The success of the T-LMP has led Tanzania to review and request a revised T-LMP for the next five years to address areas in the sector that still need investment. 

Countries in Africa and south Asia are at different stages of developing an LMP. From Francis’ shared experience with the T-LMP, workshop participants got insight into how one country developed their plan. A main takeaway was the development of a designated private sector desk in the MLF as an outcome of the T-LMP.

Dolapo Enahoro (ILRI) with participants from Egypt (ILRI / Madeline Wong).

Building a community of practice for south-to-south cooperation

Lastly, the workshop fostered a community of practice, emphasising follow-up trainings with ILRI staff and continuous south-south cooperation among the participants. Discussions revolved around how each participant could evolve into a trainer of trainers, disseminating acquired knowledge within their institutions and networks. Ideas spanned from teaching colleagues, lecturers and students engaged in livestock research to organising online sessions for sustained capacity building and increased buy-in from policymakers. 

David Jakinda Otieno, agricultural economist and associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nairobi, recognised the unique circumstances that gathered technical staff across various countries for this workshop: 

I know it is not possible to have ILRI training like this every year, but the team should maintain this network. The world is such a small village. We can share knowledge and supplement this workshop with more online trainings and continued discussions. 

Next steps and continued learning 

Participants shared their commitment to ongoing learning and communication by forming WhatsApp groups, organising online seminars and utilising acquired tools and knowledge within their respective countries and institutions. 

In conclusion, the ‘Capacity Building to Support Regional LMP‘ workshop proved to be a pivotal platform, empowering participants to drive meaningful change within their nations’ livestock sectors. Efforts towards a more robust livestock database to inform policy- and decision-makers continue beyond the workshop, marked by a shared commitment to learning, collaboration and sustained capacity building across Africa and Asia. 

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