Edinburgh vets to improve health of farm animals in Africa

Veterinary researchers based in Scotland are working on a £5.5 million initiative to improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in sub-Saharan Africa.

A livestock market in Bamako, Mali. Picture: Stevie Mann/Wikicommons

The Supporting Evidence Based Interventions initiative (SEBI) is based at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Three programmes have been drawn up to address various challenges and help boost the livelihoods of livestock farmers, experts said.

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One project, which aims to cut death rates and reproductive losses in dairy cattle in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, will see grants handed to research groups to investigate the problem. The first of the grants has been awarded to the University of Glasgow, project bosses said.

A second programme will look at ways to track livestock performance, while a third strand of the initiative will fund the development of veterinary techniques for use in developing countries.

The SEBI project is working with a range of bodies, including Scotland’s Rural College, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia and the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, to deliver the projects.

Project leader Professor Andy Peters said: “SEBI is a pilot project but we anticipate that if we are successful, it will expand to become the ‘go to’ organisation for the evaluation of novel veterinary technologies and livestock improvement interventions in Africa.”