Case study

DFID Research: Pro-poor livestock policy and institutional change

Improving the lives of poor livestock farmers through institutional and policy change.

Fulani cattle herder, West Africa
Fulani cattle herder, West Africa. Picture: WRENmedia

Searching for a new approach to livestock policy and institutional change to improve the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers has been the focus of a DFID-funded initiative, which was reviewed at a recent meeting at FAO in Rome.

Launched in 2001, with funding from DFID, the rationale for the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PPLPI)’s focus derived from the experience that technology-oriented livestock projects had failed to deliver significant improvements in the livelihoods of the poor. “At the time, DFID was looking to have a more sustainable, widespread impact on poverty and ways in which this could be achieved,” explained Peter Bazeley, previously with DFID’s Livestock Advisory Group.

The nature of livestock farming, however, is generally determined by policy and institutional frameworks that are rarely pro-poor and may even encourage forms of production that threaten long-term environmental stability and public health. While technology-oriented projects in the sector had largely failed, developing an enabling institutional and policy environment held out potential to enhance impact on the poor.

Potential benefits

Working to achieve pro-poor policy and institutional change has taken PPLPI across three continents. Some of the outcomes highlighted at the FAO meeting included:

  • Southern India: PPLPI was part of a collaborative donor effort to reform animal health services. The result of the bottom-up consultation process has been the ratification of the 2007 Minor Veterinary Services Act of Andhra Pradesh, which could benefit six million households dependent on livestock
  • Peru: PPLPI was instrumental in managing conflicting interests and building consensus in the camelid sector, to secure the livelihoods of poor alpaca producers and the fibre sector’s international market share, which were under threat as a result of declining fibre quality. The adoption in 2007 of a national strategy for the camelid sector ensures international competitiveness, and has increased income opportunities for over 150,000 alpaqueros
  • West Africa: PPLPI was a key partner in a regional policy process to harmonise the animal health and food safety regulations across eight countries. The 2007 UEMOA (the West African Economic and Monetary Union) Regulation on food safety and animal health will help an estimated 20 million poor livestock keepers to access growing urban markets in the region

In its work, PPLPI has acted as a neutral facilitator, helping to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, fill knowledge gaps and manage conflicting interests. It has learned from experiences of other stakeholders within and outside the country and ensured that the interests of poorer segments of society have been taken into account

The recent meeting began and ended with Professor William Easterly, a former World Bank economist and author of The White Man’s Burden. Easterly is a renowned critic of the lack of impact of the US$2.3 trillion spent on foreign aid over the last 50 years, particularly on agriculture and alleviating poverty in Africa. He attributes this poor record mainly to “planners”, who see poverty as a technical engineering problem, and apply blueprints to determine what to supply.

In the recent independent external evaluation of FAO, PPLPI’s work on policies with respect to the poor was acknowledged to have “influenced global thinking in these areas.” At the end of the meeting, Easterly acknowledged that that PPLPI appears to have found a more constructive way to facilitate pro-poor policy and institutional change. In his concluding remarks, Easterly recommended that a further rigorous and independent evaluation be conducted to confirm the success of PPLPI and, once validated, that FAO should initiate more work of this type. 

More information

See the project record on R4D: FAO Pro-poor Livestock Policy Facility (PPLPF): Fostering the Policy Dialogue in Support of Equitable Safe and Clean Livestock Farming

Video case studies

A series of short videos giving local perspetives on livestock keeping.

A Living from Livestock - Peru (English)

A Living from Livestock

A Living from Livestock - Peru (Spanish)

A Living from Livestock

A Living from Livestock - India (English)

A Living from Livestock

A Living from Livestock - West Africa, Burkina Faso (English)

A Living from Livestock

A Living from Livestock - West Africa, Burkina Faso (French)

A Living from Livestock

Published 14 May 2008