Goat health and management for improved smallholders’ livelihoods in central Malawi – A socioeconomic analysis of rural households

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Airs, P. M., Ventura-Cordero, J., Gwiriri, L. C., Tinsley, J. H., Mvula, W., Lee, M. R., Wyk, J. A. V., Nalivata, P. C., Takahashi, T., Morgan, E. R. and Safalaoh, A. C. 2023. Goat health and management for improved smallholders’ livelihoods in central Malawi – A socioeconomic analysis of rural households. Small Ruminant Research. 229 (Dec 23), p. 107114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2023.107114

AuthorsAirs, P. M., Ventura-Cordero, J., Gwiriri, L. C., Tinsley, J. H., Mvula, W., Lee, M. R., Wyk, J. A. V., Nalivata, P. C., Takahashi, T., Morgan, E. R. and Safalaoh, A. C.
Abstract

The true value of goats, their management systems, and the limitations of smallholdings have not been fully
explored in the context of sustainable livelihoods among rural smallholders in central Malawi. However, goats
are an essential part of rural livelihoods as transferable assets and sources of household nutrition, especially at
times of food insecurity aligned to an ever more variable climate. To study the impact and limitations of goat
ownership in Malawi’s Lilongwe district, surveys were performed across four villages covering 148 households
from October-November 2019. Surveys were designed to identify linkages between household demographics,
livelihoods, goat ownership, and management practices. Findings revealed goats are highly valued compared to
other livestock. However, herds were small (median = 3) with only 62% reported kidding in the last year, while
50% reported deaths due to diseases, predation (such as by hyenas), and dog bites. Odds-ratio analyses identified
farmers (as a primary occupation) were more likely to successfully breed goats to increase their herd size. Larger
herds were associated with those who could accumulate wealth and utilise goats for ceremonies. However,
diseases were a major contributor to losses and increased the risk of household food insecurity. Limiting disease
impacts through anthelmintics and supplementation were correlated to an increased likelihood of sustainable
offtake from smallholdings and improved livelihoods. With limited access to veterinary services, smallholders
utilise a diversity of medicinal plants and ash to treat diarrhoea in their herd. The results highlight that goat
security and health is fundamental to realising smallholding livelihood gains. Future efforts should aim to
empower smallholders through providing tools to monitor goat health and to assess the effects of local practices,
including the use of medicinal plants, for goat health.

KeywordsFood security; Livelihoods; Plant supplementation; Small ruminants; Ethnobotany
Year of Publication2023
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Journal citation229 (Dec 23), p. 107114
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smallrumres.2023.107114
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codePlant-based solutions to integrate livestock disease control, nutrition and environmental sustainability in Africa
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online12 Oct 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted10 Oct 2023
ISSN0921-4488
PublisherElsevier

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