New Economic Data Point to Win-Win Land-Use Opportunities at the Wildlife / Livestock Interface

I'd like to flag two studies in particular, with their focus on the economics of alternative approaches to beef production in southern Africa that could positively transform livelihoods for farmers and pastoralists, while helping to secure a future for wildlife and wildlife-based tourism opportunities. As most AHEAD Update readers know, market access for livestock and livestock products from Africa is constrained by the presence of foot and mouth disease (FMD). Fear of FMD largely precludes large-scale beef exports from Africa to potentially lucrative overseas markets and hinders trade within Africa itself. Wild buffalo, an ecologically and economically critical species in the region, can transmit FMD viruses to livestock but are not themselves affected. Two new studies on reconciling this land-use challenge, one from WCS AHEAD and WWF and the other from USAID, were undertaken separately but reached remarkably convergent conclusions based on the best available regional data. They looked at new commodity-based (value chain) approaches to beef trade that focus on the safety of the process by which products are produced rather than on whether a given cow was raised in a location where wildlife like buffalo also live. This food safety-type approach offers the potential for export of meat products that are scientifically demonstrable as safe from animal diseases for importing countries, while also diminishing the need for at least some of the veterinary fencing currently aimed at separating livestock and wildlife and constraining the Southern African Development Community’s vision for regional transboundary wildlife conservation. But what about the economic implications of such an approach? These two reports,

Economic Analysis of Land Use Policies for Livestock, Wildlife and Disease Management in Caprivi, Namibia, with Potential Wider Implications for Regional Transfrontier Conservation Areas,


Establishing Priorities through Use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis for a Commodity Based Trade Approach to Beef Exports from the East Caprivi Region of Namibia

are available through the links below and represent a significant milestone, as they are the first quantitative analyses ever done on the socioeconomic implications of key land-use choices related to livestock agriculture and wildlife conservation for a SADC transfrontier conservation area [in this case, the five-nation Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area- the largest such terrestrial area dedicated to conservation on the planet, and home (for example) to the largest population of elephants left in the world – approximately 250,000]. The bottom line is that a new approach to animal disease management has the potential to be a real win-win opportunity for both local and regional livelihoods, as well as for wildlife conservation. If fully implemented, the ideas in these reports have the potential to facilitate access to new beef markets for southern African farmers and pastoralists as well as to greatly enhance the long-term viability of transfrontier conservation areas by facilitating true landscape connectivity for the benefit of migratory wildlife. But check out the reports, and evaluate the data for yourself: we believe these studies merit thorough scrutiny by stakeholders at all levels interested in and responsible for making sure land-use planning in southern Africa is socially, ecologically and economically sustainable for generations to come.

More on these resources:

*WCS AHEAD / WWF Report – Economic Analysis of Land Use Policies for Livestock, Wildlife and Disease Management in Caprivi, Namibia, with Potential Wider Implications for Regional Transfrontier Conservation Areas (2013), Barnes JI. Technical Report to the Wildlife Conservation Society's AHEAD Program & the World Wildlife Fund, 84 pp. – A robust socio-economic analysis of how different sectors (with an emphasis on rural communities) in Caprivi (now the Zambezi Region), Namibia, would likely fare under a range of animal health policy and related land-use regimes has just been completed. Standard cost-benefit analysis was applied to several future policy options with emphasis being placed on the livestock / wildlife interface and Caprivi’s role as central to the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). Empirically based enterprise models measuring private and economic values for the livestock and wildlife sectors were used to measure returns on investment for policy options regarding animal disease management and land-use allocation. Four options were considered, including commodity-based trade (CBT) and veterinary control fencing. CBT is a production and marketing approach, which assures product safety regardless of the "infected" or "free" disease status of the area of origin and therefore permits adaptation of conventional (geographical, or fence-based) animal disease control measures. The basic measure of economic efficiency was incremental change in net national income. Local livelihood contributions were also measured.

The results indicate that CBT approaches to disease management and formal meat production are highly likely to be economically efficient. Moreover, the economic costs associated with a CBT approach would be outweighed by new economic gains in terms of wildlife-based incomes, abattoir viability, and livestock farming incomes. On the other hand, the introduction of spatially segregated, fenced foot and mouth disease (FMD)-free compartments is technically impractical and would be economically undesirable. Here, significant loss of growth in wildlife-related incomes, and significant costs for fencing would outweigh any new economic gains in abattoir viability and livestock farming incomes. The findings have importance for development policy in the KAZA TFCA, and possibly other TFCAs in southern Africa. They strongly suggest that initiatives aimed at introduction of CBT as part of a value chain approach to sanitary risk management offer significant economic potential. See or for a downloadable PDF.

*USAID / Southern Africa Sanitary and Phytosanitary Support (SPS) Program Report – Establishing Priorities through Use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis for a Commodity Based Trade Approach to Beef Exports from the East Caprivi Region of Namibia (2013), Cassidy D, Thomson G, and Barnes J. Technical Report to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) / Southern Africa Sanitary and Phytosanitary Support (SPS) Program for Regional Trade in Southern Africa, 109 pp. – In addition to the above-mentioned WCS / WWF cost-benefit analysis, a complementary but parallel multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) has just been completed. MCDA is a structured framework that enables the costs and benefits of alternative capacity-building investments to be defined and identifies those options that offer the greatest return over a range of interacting criteria. In this study, MCDA was used to examine four land-use options in the Caprivi region of Namibia according to criteria that include conventional costs and benefits re- livestock production and tourism, impact on trade, agricultural productivity, as well as environmental and social effects. The options examined were:

• status quo of conservancies and multispecies land use including formal and informal beef production (no additional investment);
• two options where investments are made in slaughter for chilled beef or processed meat production;
• an option to create FMD-free compartments.

The results of the analysis strongly indicate that implementing the CBT option based on the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code standard (Article 8.7.25 with specific modifications) was the most favorable scenario across most criteria. The study represents a significant contribution to the economic analysis of CBT in animal products, though the results need to be revisited and revised on an ongoing basis in the light of improvements in the availability and/or quality of scientific and other data, or changes in policy priorities that could shift the decision weights and/or introduce new decision criteria. See for a downloadable PDF.

Author: Steve Osofsky, DVM
Wildlife Conservation Society
Executive Director, Wildlife Health & Health Policy
WCS AHEAD Coordinator
WCS HEAL Coordinator

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