Bouncing Back Strong: How Resilience Drives Research Success

Feed the Future Innovation Lab research activities are effective, locally adaptable research triggered by real development challenges faced by the Feed the Future countries.

The current research portfolio of the Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems at the University of Florida addresses a wide range of challenges, such as reducing disease morbidity and mortality in poultry in Burkina Faso to assessing the possible negative impact on child growth of contaminated milk with aflatoxin M1 in Ethiopia. All projects aim to sustainably improve livestock productivity and marketing and consumption of animal-source foods (such as milk, meat, and eggs) in order to improve the nutrition, health, incomes, and livelihoods of vulnerable people.

With this approach, international teams composed of researchers from a Feed the Future country and international researchers (usually from the US) contribute to increasing food and nutritional security as well as resilience. According to its 2022 Resilience Policy Revision, USAID defines resilience as “the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth.” While many will immediately think of resilience of the project participants and stakeholders, research teams also need to be resilient. Conducting interdisciplinary international research is never easy, especially less when the country is experiencing a deteriorating security situation and even conflict, as was the case in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Niger, some of the countries where the Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems works.

In Burkina Faso, which experienced a coup in September 2022 and has experienced terrorist activities in the northern part of the country, research is still ongoing. While the curfew has restricted the team’s movements in the area, the impact has been limited thanks to the strong local support including a veterinary officer as the project focal point appointed by the regional director of agriculture and livestock. In close consultation with local authorities, the researchers were able to collect data from 350 farming households across 23 villages as part of the baseline survey in 2023.

In Niger, the growing insecurity in the Tillabéri region and the July 2023 coup d’état restricted project team movements. To address this challenge, facilitators of the four newly established agro-pastoralist field schools were equipped with smartphones and created a WhatsApp group to support their activities remotely. This mechanism allows for the smooth implementation of the project activities despite movement challenges and ensures that activities stay on track.

These examples show how research teams adapt to changing realities to ensure the necessary research activities happen while ensuring the safety of their teams. The leadership of the Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems is grateful for all the work and commitment of the project teams to help increase the food and nutritional security of vulnerable populations worldwide.


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Posted: March 11, 2024

Category: Agriculture, Livestock
Tags: Burkina Faso, Food Safety, Livestock, Nutrition, Poultry

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