Dr Ayayi Justin Akakpo
Session 1: Current situation and specificity of veterinary product distribution
and use in Africa
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
How to maximize veterinary research tailored to Africa’s needs
A. J. Akakpo1, A. Gouro2, J.-M. Feussom Kameni1
1 Ecole Inter-Etats des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaires
Service de Microbiologie Immunologie Pathologie Infectieuse P.O. Box 5077 Dakar (Senegal)
Correspondence: Ayayi Justin AKAKPO, E mail: [email protected]
2 Centre International de Recherche-Développement sur l’Elevage en zone Sub-humide (CIRDES) 01
P.O. Box 454 Bobo-Dioulasso (Burkina Faso)
Africa has a population of almost 800 million and nearly half does not have enough to
eat. While livestock play an important role as a source of protein in the agricultural
economy of most African countries, productivity of bovine meat and small ruminant
meat is low, in the region of 15 kg and 4.5 kg per capita per year, respectively,
compared to 79 kg and 6.5 kg, respectively, in countries in the North.
Veterinary research should be capable of removing this handicap. Unfortunately, the
state of veterinary research in Africa is far from bright. The limiting factors are namely:
lack of vision and political will, lack of human competencies, lack of funding and
absence of appropriate orientation of research.
To reverse this trend, several points must be taken into account, namely:
• the need to demonstrate real political will, through suitable endogenous funding
and institutional organisation
• the use of adequate human resources, in terms of quantity and, most importantly,
quality, under conditions providing job security, in order to conduct specific
research activities aimed at solving local problems
• a socioeconomic, technical and institutional audit of livestock production, aimed at
identifying needs, defining priorities and identifying the resources needed to meet
the various challenges
• rigorous and judicious planning of research activities based on the outcome of the
• the setting up and implementation of operations on the basis of short-, mediumand long-term planning
If all these measures are taken, veterinary research in Africa will still only be effective
and efficient if it is based on the principle of good governance through the choice of
managers and scientific partners at both regional and international level, and an
effective monitoring/evaluation system.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
There is general agreement among scientific and political authorities that research drives
development. This is even more so in developing countries, where the primary concern is still food
security or self-sufficiency.
The population of developing countries is constantly growing and there is heavy demand to cover
basic needs for a balanced diet containing sufficient good-quality animal protein. It ought to be
possible to resolve this problem by developing agricultural research generally.
The need to set up research structures in the various French-, English- and Portuguese-speaking
countries of Africa made itself felt in the colonial era. After independence, the research potential that
had been created in the various countries remained, or even grew in terms of the number of
researchers and national research systems (NRS) which were set up during that period.
The seminar on policies for developing livestock production in humid and subhumid zones of subSaharan Africa, held in Abidjan in February 1996 (1), revealed positive development trends in
livestock research. These trends raised countries’ awareness of concepts such as: the national
agricultural research system, better coordinated donor support, renewal of the international agricultural
research system and a more balanced distribution of tasks among national, regional and international
institutions (1). This context gave reason to hope that animal and veterinary research, formerly the
poor relation of the region’s agricultural research systems, was about to experience unprecedented
The results achieved in the interval have been unsatisfactory because they do not fully meet
development requirements. This means that the prospect of every African being able to eat
60 kilogrammes of meat per person per year, as in developed countries, is still a distant prospect (2).
We have limited our review of how to optimise veterinary research tailored to Africa’s needs to the
countries of sub-Saharan Africa (West and Central Africa). Following a brief review of the current
veterinary research situation in sub-Saharan Africa, we identify the weaknesses and constraints
before going on to discuss prospects for the future and new approaches to making livestock research
and development fully operational.
II. Veterinary research in sub-Saharan Africa: situation assessment
Research in sub-Saharan Africa began during the colonial period and was maintained after the
countries’ independence. Rather than tracing the history of veterinary research development, we
confine ourselves to describing the current types of research, funding methods and governance.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Current types of research
An overview of veterinary research in sub-Saharan Africa shows that there are two main types of
research: activities developed and implemented at national level, which are embodied in national
agricultural research systems (NARS), and activities conducted by regional or international structures.
• Veterinary research in national agricultural research systems
Thanks to the major World Bank-funded agricultural research projects and support from the
International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in the 1980s and 1990s, there was
heavy emphasis on the idea of grouping together all structures with research potential nationwide. The
objective was to forge closer links between these structures to define research needs more effectively
and ensure better coordination in defining priorities and conducting operations, as well as a judicious
pooling of resources. It was in this context that closer relations were formed between national
agricultural research institutes and universities.
Tighter links were forged between veterinary research and the animal production departments of
agronomy faculties or, where they existed, diagnostic and/or vaccine-producing laboratories. In the
case of animal production departments, there are no research activities in the field of veterinary
medicine. In the laboratories, vaccine production is a research priority. Most national agricultural
research institutes tend to have an animal production department but not a department of veterinary
medicine. Where national agricultural research institutes do have departments of veterinary medicine,
vaccine production takes precedence over research, as in the case of Senegal’s National Laboratory
for Livestock Production and Veterinary Research at Dakar-Hann (LNERV), Cameroon’s National
Veterinary Laboratory of Garoua (LANAVET) and Chad’s Veterinary and Livestock Research
Laboratory of Farcha.
The integration of animal health into national agricultural research systems still tends to be less robust
than that of crop production because animal health structures continue to be compartmentalised and
usually come under the Ministry of Livestock, with their own research stations and laboratories. This is
the case in countries like Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal.
The result of this compartmentalisation is that, in most sub-Saharan African countries, national
veterinary research has not been given the same impetus as the major World Bank agricultural
research projects. The stumbling block for veterinary research in our countries has been a lack of
planning in terms of human resources, infrastructure and facilities.
Lastly, national veterinary research has not achieved the same levels of organisation as other
agricultural research sectors, such as plant research. This has not been the case at regional and
international level.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
• Regional and international organisation of research
On a regional scale, veterinary research in sub-Saharan Africa has demonstrated a degree of
dynamism. Although the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development
development has not attracted the same attention as crop production. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are
three regional organisations responsible for livestock development. They are the Inter-State School of
Veterinary Science and Medicine (EISMV) in Dakar, Senegal, which was created in 1968; the
International Centre for Livestock Research and Development in the Subhumid Zone (CIRDES),
created in 1991, and the International Trypanotolerance Center (ITC), created in 1982.
The EISMV is an intergovernmental training and research institution with 13 member countries from
West and Central Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte
d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Chad and Togo). As it is a higher education
institution, it is responsible for training doctors of veterinary medicine and also conducts research. Its
research activities are dictated mainly by the resources available to teachers and the time remaining
after fulfilling their teaching obligations. In some cases, their research meets the specific needs of
member countries, when the EISMV responds to competitive calls for tender. In the absence of any
permanent funding from member countries to initiate and implement them, the EISMV’s research
activities are very often unplanned. Collaboration with national agricultural research systems (NARS)
relies on the human, financial and material resources available to the EISMV and national systems.
The EISMV Scientific Council selects research subjects relevant to the subregion. They include:
¾ Poultry farming.
¾ Dairy breeding and production.
¾ Food safety.
¾ Conservation of biodiversity and animal genetic resources.
¾ Control of livestock diseases and environmental conservation.
CIRDES was created in 1991 at the initiative of five member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte
d’Ivoire, Niger and Togo), joined by Mali and Guinea-Bissau in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Its
mandate is to conduct research and development activities to improve the health of domestic animals
and to increase their productivity, with the aim of satisfying people’s growing requirements for meat
and milk, improving their incomes and so helping to alleviate poverty in the member countries, whilst
respecting the ecological balance. CIRDES pays special attention to vector-born parasitic diseases,
the conservation of animal genetic resources, environmental conservation, management training and
technology transfer.
CIRDES research activities are defined and conducted in close collaboration with the national
agricultural research systems (NARS) in the member countries. A strategic plan is established jointly
with all partners, aided by a scientific council.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Having taken over from the former Center for Research on Animal Trypanosomiasis (CRTA),
veterinary research activities proper (as animal and fodder production are also on the programme)
concern vector-born diseases, with the focus on:
¾ Development and improvement of methods and tools for diagnosing haemoparasitic
¾ Study of the impact of animal trypanosomoses.
¾ Adaptation and application of biotechnology to genetic characterisation (parasites, vectors,
¾ Validation of strategies and improvement of non-polluting methods for controlling vectors
(tsetse flies, ticks and other vectors) and vector-born diseases.
¾ Epidemiological importance of ticks and tick-born diseases.
¾ Socio-economic aspects of animal health.
¾ Resistance to trypanocides.
¾ Trypanotolerance.
The subregion’s animal health problems are clearly not limited to vector-born diseases. Despite
CIRDES having built its capacities in terms of infrastructure, material and skilled human resources, the
main problem is still that its operating budget falls short of its ambitions. Like the EISMV, CIRDES
benefits from regional recognition, since both are WAEMU Centres of Excellence for animal science.
CIRDES does not have the financial capacity to increase its human resources to study other animal
health issues in the subregion. However, its performance and the partnership network that it has
developed enable CIRDES to obtain significant funding from the international community.
Although its institutional organisation enables it to plan and carry out its mandate, CIRDES is unable
to fulfil its true potential for lack of an appropriate consolidated budget, as the countries contribute zero
direct funding for research activities, with the result that CIRDES is heavily dependent on external
financing. A consultant recently wrote: “Although CIRDES has solid institutional and material assets,
does it currently have the resources needed to harness this enormous potential to the full?”
From an institutional standpoint, a Law passed by the Parliament of Gambia on 31 December 1982
created the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC). Subsequently the Gambian government
concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the ITC on 20 June 1986. Based in Banjul, the ITC
is an autonomous, non-profit making organisation to which the Gambian government has granted
diplomatic privileges.
According to its memorandum of association, the ITC is required to undertake research to exploit
trypanotolerance to improve agriculture, with the following aims:
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
¾ Increasing animal production and quality.
¾ Promoting cooperation with universities and other agricultural research centres working to
build trypanotolerance.
¾ Publication and dissemination of research results.
¾ Dissemination of genetically improved animals to other centres or countries where such
animals are needed for livestock breeding programmes.
Unlike CIRDES, the ITC does not have the legal staus of an intergovernmental organisation as
Gambia is the only country to have signed an Establishment Agreement with it. In spite of this, the
ITC’s activities are conducted in West African countries, some of whose nationals sit on its board of
management but not in the capacity of official representatives of their respective countries. These
countries are Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Liberia is expected to join
them soon. The ITC collaborates with national agricultural research systems (NARS) only on
externally-funded projects.
A further difference between the ITC and CIRDES is in the type of activities they conduct. The ITC’s
activities focus more on animal production than on animal health, basically because the ITC’s
mandate is to produce and disseminate trypanotolerant livestock. All the same, the ITC conducts
research into ticks and tick-born diseases.
Although the ITC has considerable infrastructure and facilities, unfortunately it has a weak institutional
and regional base, a shortage of human resources and insufficient consolidated funding.
Our finding concerning veterinary research in the region is that, although the political will has been
expressed and confirmed over the past few decades, this has not been accompanied by sustainable
On an international scale, one of the livestock production structures in sub-Saharan Africa is the
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). This institution is a member of the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (GCRAI/CGIAR) and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. It was
formed in 1995 and took over the activities of two former international research centres: the
International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA/CIPEA) and the International Laboratory for Research
on Animal Disease (ILRAD). The ILRI has held an international mandate since its creation and
therefore does not focus specifically on African issues, as was the case with the former ILCA and
ILRAD. In the past few years it has addressed international issues such as avian influenza and
contagious pleuropneumonia.
CIRAD is another international organisation that addresses African issues. Its research subjects
include avian influenza, tick diseases and haemoparasitic diseases (including trypanosomoses),
together with contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, peste des petits ruminants and many other
diseases of the region. Unlike the ILRI, it has the advantage of strong links, not only with national
agricultural research systems and regional higher education and research institutions, but also with
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
development organisations. However, the series of reforms that CIRAD has undergone in recent years
have made it less visible, particularly in West Africa.
Our finding concerning international veterinary research organisations in Africa is that there is
weakness at national level coupled with a political will to regionalise research. In addition, there has
been a change in the contributions to international structures, which raises fears of their gradual
withdrawal for financial reasons.
Funding veterinary research in Africa
In spite of an avowed political will, in general African agricultural research has not been given the
required financial support, and declarations at international conferences on adequate and sustainable
financing for agricultural research have not been followed through. National veterinary research is
even more inadequately funded and this can undoubtedly be explained by its poor organisation in the
countries concerned. Regional research would have suffered the same fate had it not been for
international donors. Indeed, regional structures have better human, infrastructure and material
resources thanks to the partnership networks they have been able to develop, and they receive more
funding than national structures. The policy of international donors tends to favour coordinated
regional research. The leading agricultural research donors are: the European Union, France,
Canadian and German development cooperation agencies and a number of private foundations,
including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and
the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR). For the past few years, the policy of international donors
has also been to promote competitive calls for tender, which favours regional institutions because of
their larger resources. One of the research-funding agencies is an African regional organisation, the
West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which commits substantial funds to research in
the WAEMU member countries.
While international funding partners are more interested in coordinated regional research, they are
much keener to fund research activities than to contribute to core or operating budgets. It is national
governments that are expected to provide such grants, and the situation is admittedly far from ideal.
In West Africa, regional veterinary research is carried out mainly by CIRDES and, to a lesser extent,
the EISMV and ITC. It is more these basic operating costs than the direct costs associated with
research activities that are jeopardising their development. The more irregular and inconsistent the
operating costs, the less external financing becomes available.
In the final analysis, funding by national governments is the chief stumbling block to the development
of agricultural research in Africa, and animal health research in particular. Indeed, most countries have
no planning document for agricultural research (particularly livestock research) and insufficient human
resources, although in recent decades there has admittedly been a significant increase in the number
of researchers and a marked improvement in their level of training (3).
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Research governance
Veterinary research governance can be viewed from both a national and an international standpoint.
• National governance
National veterinary research suffers the drawback of centralised governance. It tends to come under
sole, specialist control and research institutes are governed directly by the ministries responsible for
research, which vary from country to country (Table 1).
Research budgets and policies are centralised, as are international negotiations.
• International governance
International governance is well organised and follows a well defined chain of command. However,
there is little or no consideration of the views of national governments and research users. The
research policy is established without taking into account local partners. That is why problems or
inefficiencies often ensue when research results come to be implemented.
III. Research weaknesses
We have found both national and international research weaknesses.
• National weaknesses
Research weaknesses can be seen in the areas of funding, human resources, organisation and
governance, as well as scientific socialisation.
Although the political will exists, African countries experience many difficulties in releasing funds for
research. In many cases they request foreign aid to finance research without being able to defray the
institution’s operating costs. Foreign aid does not generally cover operating costs.
Human resources
Although the human resources exist, they are often under-utilised and researchers are poorly paid. As
a general rule, when a research project is financed, researchers tend to be paid more on the basis of
work performed than of fixed salaries (4). This state of affairs has led to gradual destitution and job
insecurity among researchers, who will seize the first opportunity to leave and work elsewhere.
Organisation and governance
Organisation and governance fare no better. Researchers are treated as civil servants in the general
administration. Instead of being a privately run activity, this makes research a public service.
Researchers are not involved in financial management. The end result is that research is dogged by
inefficiency and resistance to change.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Scientific socialisation
Life in national research campuses is far from appealing. There are very few recreational, sporting or
other facilities.
• International weaknesses
The research publishing policy is devised at supranational level, in a system of exterritoriality. There
are few links with national agricultural research systems (NARS). National researchers are few and far
between and are often used in an individual capacity, being relegated to the position of collectors of
data or samples to be analysed by the regional laboratories of these international research structures.
These structures often recruit the most talented national researchers on highly attractive salaries,
impoverishing national scientific human resources still further.
To optimise veterinary research tailored to Africa’s needs, the aforesaid national, regional and
international weaknesses would need to be addressed. This calls for:
– Changes at national level to assert a firm political will by:
o Mobilising domestic financing to pay for the day-to-day running of research institutions.
o An institutional organisation stripped of paralysing administrative red tape.
o Quality human resources who benefit from regular in-service training, together with secure
career prospects, to prevent a brain drain.
o Appropriate governing bodies such as a board of management, scientific council, etc.
– Research planning, which is paramount, and calls for the:
o Identification of real research needs.
o Definition of priorities.
o Establishment of short-, medium- and long-term programmes.
– Good governance, which entails a:
o Judicious choice of managers.
o Effective management system.
o System of internal and external evaluation.
National research must be enhanced by means of: a scientific partnership requiring collaboration
between university training structures and research structures; an effective communication system to
showcase the national structure’s know-how and competencies to the outside world; and the
nationwide dissemination and extension of research results.
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
¾ On a regional scale, a situation assessment should be made of livestock production in subSaharan Africa. CIRDES, the ITC and the EISMV, which share the same ecological livestock
zone and all have links with national agricultural research systems in the member countries,
ought to cooperate by jointly creating a scientific research cluster. This entails pooling
human resources, material and other resources to enable them to conduct research into
improving animal health and production efficiency in the countries of the subregion.
Cooperation with national agricultural research systems must also be extended to include
human resources. Indeed, it would be beneficial to both regional and national research
structures to facilitate the mobility of researchers whose diverse expertise they can use for a
time, for the mutual enrichment of all concerned. After focusing on the major pathologies
(bacterial, parasitic, viral and other diseases), regional research must be used to
supplement, or to maximise the potential of, national research. This would allow new
research subjects to be introduced, such as environmental conservation, population control
or the development of successful local breeds.
¾ On an international scale, the partnership with international donors is proving absolutely
crucial in the bid to promote animal health, which has now been recognised as a global
public good (5). The international community cannot help but benefit from the eradication of
persistent infectious animal diseases in Africa with the aid of development partners. Animal
health control will leverage higher livestock productivity, which in turn will lead to food selfsufficiency. To achieve this, the major donors (the World Bank, European Union and others)
would need to be backed by a new class of donor that has limited resources but agrees to
engage in bilateral cooperation alongside local researchers and leaders. These new donors
will be obliged to discover more about the local situation and to secure the backing of local
researchers for their programmes (6). Local researchers will also need to be involved in
financial management.
In political terms, veterinary research certainly has support, albeit more for regional than for national
research. This is highly desirable to meet the various requirements for regional integration and for
pooling resources. However, this political will has not yet been followed through with a sustainable
funding strategy. Livestock research calls for all human and financial resources to be pooled. To
optimise veterinary research in Africa, it is important to consider the views of national governments
and the end-users of research results to ensure that research really does become research and
HOSTE C., Politiques de développement de l'élevage en Afrique subsaharienne. Rapport de
synthèse de deux séminaires régionaux CTA/OUA-IBAR: Afrique occidentale et centrale, Abidjan,
OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Côte d'Ivoire, 5-9 February 1996; Afrique orientale et australe, Mbabane, Swaziland, 28 July1 August 1997, Ede Wageningen: CTA 1999, 31 pp.
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OIE Conference on Veterinary Medicinal Products in Africa, Dakar, 25-27 March 2008 – A.J. Akakpo – Presentation 2
Table 1: National organisation of agricultural research institutes in French-speaking West
National organisation
Country (Institutions)
1. Creation of a research office under the
control of one or two ministries.
- Benin (Ministry of Rural Development)
- Chad (Ministry of Rural Development/Ministry
of Agriculture)
- Togo (Ministry of Rural Development)
- Congo (Ministry of Scientific Research)
2. Creation of research institutes to supplement
existing research capabilities.
- Burkina Faso (CRTA)
- Cameroon (ISH)
- Senegal (ITA)
- Togo (INRS)
3. Creation of specialist institutes integrating
French research institutes.
- Côte d’Ivoire (IDESSA)
- Senegal (CNRA, CRODT)
4. Creation of several national multiprogramme
- Burkina Faso (IBRAZ, IRBET)
- Cameroon (IRA, IRZ)
- Mali (IER, INRZFH)
- Mauritania (CNRADA, CNERV)
5. Creation of a national multiprogramme
- Côte d’Ivoire (INIRA)
- Niger (INRAN)
- Senegal (ISRA)
Source (7) ROCHETEAU, cited by Han Van DIJK (1986), table 7.3, p. 51.
CNERV: Centre National d'Elevage et de Recherches Vétérinaires
CNRA: Centre National de Recherches Agronomiques
CNRADA: Centre National de Recherche Agronomique et de Développement Agricole
CRODT: Centre de Recherches Océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye
CRTA: Centre de Recherches sur les Trypanosomiases Animales
IBRAZ: Institut Burkinabé de Recherches Agronomiques et Zootechniques
IDESSA: Institut des Savanes
IER: Institut d'Economie Rurale
ISH: Institut des Sciences Humaines
INIRA: Institut National Ivoirien de Recherche Agronomique (being created)
INRAN: Institut de Recherches Agronomiques au Niger
INRS: Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
INRZFH: Institut National de Recherche Zootechnique, Forestière et Hydro-biologique
IRA: Institut de la Recherche Agronomique
IRBET: Institut de Recherche en Biologie et Ecologie Tropicales
IRZ: Institut de Recherches Zootechniques
ISRA: Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles
ITA: Institut de Technologie Alimentaire