Enhancing East Coast Fever Control through Informed Action
This post was written by Gladys Siamanda Naisiae, Muema Mulei and Joy Wanja Muraya.
The need for mutually beneficial partnerships to deliver tangible solutions in regions affected by East Coast Fever (ECF) is a positive step toward ensuring sustainable livelihoods and economic empowerment.
Developing a sustainable model for producing and scaling up the available ECF vaccines and improving their availability and accessibility to farmers is a crucial goal for ECF programs keen to eliminate this nuisance disease that burdens farmers. The ECF control approaches aim to improve the adoption of animal health innovations and interventions.
ECF, a deadly cattle disease caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva, continues to pose a significant threat to livestock in Kenya. ECF, a tick-borne disease affecting cattle in eastern, central and southern Africa, is a major impediment to the establishment and growth of cattle in the region. Economic losses due to ECF are estimated to be up to $300 million annually.
Efforts to combat this cattle disease require a multidimensional approach, and a crucial aspect of this strategy involves monitoring and evaluation (M&E). M&E is pivotal in steering our efforts to control and eventually eradicate this livestock menace.
ECF adversely affects cattle populations and inflicts substantial economic losses on farmers. ECF management programs must be precise in strategies to combat where M&E become a linchpin in our approach. By systematically collecting and analyzing data, we gain critical insights into the effectiveness of interventions, enabling us to fine-tune our approach for maximum impact.
M&E provides real-time data on the ground, allowing us to make informed decisions swiftly. Adapting swiftly when dealing with a dynamic issue like ECF, where environmental and economic factors are constantly changing, is invaluable. Whether adjusting vaccination strategies or targeting awareness campaigns, real-time data guides our actions effectively.
Resources are often finite, and optimizing their allocation is vital. M&E helps us identify where resources are most needed and where they can have the most significant impact. This strategic allocation ensures that interventions are efficient and yield the best results.
M&E holds us accountable for the progress made in ECF control efforts. It allows stakeholders to track the effectiveness of interventions and ensures transparency. When the community, policymakers and donors can see the impact of their contributions, it fosters trust and motivates continued support.
Every piece of data collected through M&E is a lesson learned. By carefully analyzing the data, we gain insights into what works and what does not. This iterative process enables us to refine our strategies, avoid pitfalls and design more effective interventions in the future.
In the broader context, indicators tracked through M&E provide essential lessons. We learn what strategies are effective, what approaches need refinement and what areas require further investment. This learning cycle is fundamental to long-term success and forms the basis for continued improvement.
To effectively combat ECF, we need a collaborative effort from various stakeholders: government bodies, nongovernmental organizations, researchers, farmers and communities. Investment in M&E systems is a strategic investment in our future. It is an investment that allows us to measure the impact of our collective actions and make data-driven decisions.
The battle against ECF requires a united front with accurate data and evidence-based strategies. M&E is our guiding light in this battle, empowering us to navigate the challenges effectively. As we move forward, let us remember that our commitment to M&E is not just a commitment to eradicating ECF, but to the sustainable development of our livestock industry and the well-being of our communities.
Gladys is an M&E officer at the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Animal Health (AHIL) at Washington State University in Kenya.
AHIL is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the USAID Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security. The vision of AHIL is to improve human nutrition, economic welfare and resilience by removing constraints to cattle health and production in Kenya and the East Africa region.
Washington State University leads the AHIL consortium with Kenya-based partners, including the University of Nairobi, the International Livestock Research Institute and scientists from the Kenya Medical Research Institute and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.