Why Timely and Reliable Livestock Data is Vital for Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s livestock sector is highly influential to the country’s economic well-being and is an essential area in the government’s aim to create food security and decrease reliance on agricultural imports. Specifically, Ethiopia’s agriculture sector accounts for 40% of the country’s gross domestic product and employs 75% of the country’s workforce. Livestock is a key component in this sector—in fact, Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa, with 70 million cattle, 42 million sheep, 52 million goats, 8 million camels, and 56 million chickens.
While livestock data exists in Ethiopia, people face multiple challenges when trying to make use of it. Some of the available data is of poor or questionable quality. The existing data is stored in multiple formats across different databases—which creates accessibility issues and prevents comprehensive data analysis and comparison. Finally, limited guidelines and regulations on how data is stored and shared can make it challenging for the right people to access the data they need. All of these concerns result in stakeholders only having access to portions of Ethiopia’s livestock data and therefore being limited in their ability to make data-based decisions.
In recognition of these needs and in order to advance the country’s livestock data ecosystem, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) partnered with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on the first phase of a Livestock Information Vision Ethiopia (aLIVE) in 2017.
aLIVE Phase I: Establishing a Road Map
During aLIVE Phase I, Livestock Improvement Corporation—a New Zealand-based agri-tech and herd improvement cooperative—conducted an assessment of Ethiopia’s livestock data systems, user needs, and data availability. This assessment led to the creation of the Livestock Information System Roadmap, which provides an overarching vision for the development of a comprehensive livestock information system (a digital tool which will provide stakeholders with the livestock data they need) and includes discrete steps on how to achieve this vision.
aLIVE Phase II: Implementing the Plan, Creating the Culture
For the second phase of the aLIVE program, DG will lead on the technology implementation. Our goal is to create a livestock information system that:
- Aggregates standardized livestock data that comes from multiple sources;
- Includes visualizations which will make it easy to understand and engage with key data indicators on livestock; and
- Has backend architecture that meets MoA’s functional and technical needs for appropriate data management and quality assurance features critical to keeping the data up to date.
Finally, while we create the livestock information system, we will also support Ethiopia’s MoA in establishing a culture of data use by making policies, governance, and incentive structures for long-term ownership and sustainability.
Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG)—with funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and in partnership with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA)—is pleased to announce a new program, a Livestock Information Vision for Ethiopia (aLIVE). This four-year, $5 million program will empower Ethiopia’s stakeholders in the livestock sector to make data-informed decisions by providing relevant, accurate, timely, and digital livestock data and analytics. Ultimately, the aLIVE program will support Ethiopia in meeting national food demands as well as achieving food security while building a robust, more independent economy.
With the aim of improving the efficiency of agriculture data use, Development Gateway: An IREX Venture (DG), Jengalab, and TechChange—with a grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)—recently held a learning event, titled “Digital Agriculture: Building the Agricultural Systems of Tomorrow,” in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants identified two key recommendations for advancing digital agriculture in order to increase food security.
In this blog, DGers Ousmane Koné and Andrea Ulrich explore DG's six step “recipe” for effective data use.