Obstacles and opportunities for integration of local with expert knowledge in effective disease surveillance practices in Kenya’s livestock communities

Project: PhD

Project Details


The interactions between humans and animals are considered a major global health risk disrupting agricultural production and healthcare systems. Such health risks include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian flu and newly emerging zoonotic diseases. International health agencies, governments and science are working on improved surveillance systems to map out potential breeding spots for new zoonotic pathogens and implement biosecurity measures to mitigate future outbreaks. Of particular interest are tropical areas where pathogen prevalence is generally high, human-livestock-wildlife interactions frequent and health systems typically underdeveloped. People living in resource-limited (rural) areas often have substantial local knowledge, rooted in experience with a variety of common diseases, including local techniques to cope with such health threats. This calls for integration of local knowledge with knowledge of researchers, healthcare, and government institutions to prepare and respond to zoonotic diseases. Using Kenya as an empirical context, this study aims at investigating the challenges and opportunities that exist in the integration of local and expert knowledge in mitigating disease transmission among livestock farmers. This will be achieved through the following specific objectives; i) assess the livestock farming and food practices in light of the farmers’ perceptions on livestock health, human health, and nutrition. ii) identify how national and global surveillance approaches perceive the practices of livestock farmers in light of mitigating pandemic outbreaks. This study draws on social practice theoretical lens to understand the socio-technical, agroecological, biomedical linkages as expressed in the practices related to livestock management, disease identification and treatment, fodder and management and grazing patterns, food preparation and storage. A qualitative exploratory approach will be used to examine how local and expert knowledge can be integrated to ensure context specific biosecurity measures are adopted to improve disease surveillance practices in Kisumu County, Kenya. Semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and document analysis will be used to analyze risk perception, shared knowledge, experiences, and practices of livestock healthcare of farmers.
Effective start/end date1/10/22 → …


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