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LIVESTOCK-KEEPING ANDLivestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations 5 Glossary Agricultural by-products –residues of pro-cessing agricultural products,

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Page 1: LIVESTOCK-KEEPING ANDLivestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations 5 Glossary Agricultural by-products –residues of pro-cessing agricultural products,
Page 2: LIVESTOCK-KEEPING ANDLivestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations 5 Glossary Agricultural by-products –residues of pro-cessing agricultural products,
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Our genuine appreciation to The World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Gland, Geneva for theirtechnical expertise and invaluable revision of the Handbook on Livestock Keeping and AnimalHusbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations.

We extend our thanks to the UNHCR Field Environmental Coordinators and Focal Points and othercolleagues for their very useful comments and additional inputs.

Illustrations prepared by Dorothy Migadee, Nairobi, Kenya

Background & cover images: ©Irene R Lengui/L’IV Com Sàrl

Design and layout by L’IV Com Sàrl, Morges, Switzerland

Printed by: SroKundig, Geneva, Switzerland

Produced by the Environment, Technical Support Section, UNHCR Geneva and IUCN, August 2005

2 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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Table of Contents

Glossary and Acronyms 5

Executive Summary 7

1. Livestock Management in Refugee-Related Operations 91.1 Introduction 91.2 Livestock-Keeping in Refugee-Related Operations 10

2. Purpose and Use of this Handbook 142.1 Introduction 142.2 Using this Handbook 14

3. Livestock Management: Some Basic Considerations 163.1 Introduction 163.2 Traditional and Legal Rules and Regulations 163.3 Livestock to Suit the Conditions 173.4 Impacts Commonly Associated with Livestock-Keeping 18

3.4.1 Some Positive Impacts of Livestock-Keeping 183.4.2 Some Negative Impacts of Livestock in Refugee Situations 19 Impacts on Natural Resources Social Conflicts Impacts on Public Health 21

3.5 Disease Avoidance and Control 223.5.1 Common Livestock Diseases 223.5.2 Maintaining Animal Health 253.5.3 Avoiding Negative Impacts on Public Health 28

3.6 Housing 293.7 Carrying Capacity 303.8 Resource Competition 32

4. Good Management in Practise – Some Options for Improving Livestock Systems 334.1 Introduction 334.2 Livestock Production Systems 334.3 Grazing Strategies that Match the Carrying Capacity 374.4 Supplementary Feeding and Pasture Improvement 404.5 Mixed Livestock-Crop Systems 43

4.5.1 What is Mixed Farming? 434.5.2 Benefits of Mixed Farming 44

3Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

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4.6 Identification of Suitable Breeds 444.6.1 Dairy Animals 454.6.2 Animals for Draught and Transport 464.6.3 Goats and Sheep 464.6.4 Poultry 474.6.5 Freshwater Fish 474.6.6 Unconventional Livestock Species 48

4.7 Encouraging Self-Sufficiency Practices through Improved Livestock Production 484.7.1 Income Generation through Small Animal Keeping 494.7.2 Breeds and Breeding 494.7.3 Livestock Husbandry in Towns 50

4.8 Restocking Programmes 50

5. From Theory to Practice 525.1 Assessing the Needs and Options 52

5.1.1 Clarify Rules and Rights 525.1.2 Involved Stakeholders 535.1.3 Characteristics of an Area 555.1.4 Putting the Pieces Together 55

5.2 Supporting Livestock-Keeping Activities 565.2.1 Training and Extension Support 565.2.2 Monitoring 57

6. References and Further Reading 59

Annex I Which Livestock for which Situation 61

Annex II Checklist for Livestock Management in Refugee Situations 73

Annex III Useful Indicators to Assess Environmental Risks Commonly Associated with Refugee Livestock 75

Annex IV Processing Animal Products 76

4 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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5Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations


Agricultural by-products – residues of pro-cessing agricultural products, e.g. oil-seed cakes,rice bran, molasses or brewery yeast.

Arid area – zone receiving less than 500mmrainfall annually (cf semi-arid, sub-humid,humid areas).

Brucellosis – a zoonotic, bacterial disease of alllivestock species which is transmitted tohumans through the intake of milk from infect-ed animals. The disease, which causes undulat-ing fever like malaria, is difficult to diagnose inhumans. Symptoms in humans vary; differentinternal organs can be affected. In women, itcan cause abortions. In men, inflammation ofthe testis is common. Boiling milk entirely killsthe bacteria (cf zoonosis).

Carrying capacity – the number of animalswhich can be maintained on a given area ofland without disturbing the equilibrium ofplant growth and livestock production on therange.

Endemic diseases – diseases which occur in ananimal population with predictable regularity.Disease events are not limited in time but inlocation (cf epidemic diseases).

Epidemic diseases – diseases which occur inan animal population in excess of its normalfrequency of occurrence. Disease events areclustered in time and location, but tend tospread to other areas (cf endemic diseases).

Exotic breeds – non-indigenous livestockbreeds (e.g. in Africa and Asia: European,American and Australian breeds, or breeds fromother parts of the continent).

External parasites – parasites which live onthe skin or in the fur of the animals.

Factorial diseases – diseases caused by micro-organisms which become pathogen only intimes of additional stress (transport, harsh cli-mate, nutritional deficiencies, etc.).

Humid areas – zone receiving more than1,500mm rainfall annually (cf arid, semi-arid,sub-humid areas).

Internal parasites – Parasites which live in theblood, tissues or the gastro-intestinal tract ofthe infected animals (e.g. round and tapeworms, trypanosomes etc.).

Pastoralism – system of agricultural produc-tion with emphasis on animals feeding on natural pasture (cf transhumance).

Prophylactic treatment – application of veterinary drugs to animals not showing symp-toms of a particular disease. Prophylactic treatment is used to prevent outbreaks of disease or to reduce the economic impacts ofdiseases with high prevalence (e.g. treatmentagainst parasites) (cf external/internal parasites).

Ruminants – livestock species which are char-acterised by their herbivore pattern of nutrition.By a system of several stomachs in which theforage is fermented, these animals can efficient-ly utilise the cellulose of plants which isunpalatable to humans and omnivores (pigsand poultry). The group of ruminants includescattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels and severalwild species (e.g. antelope and deer). Sheep andgoats are also called “small ruminants”.


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Semi-arid areas – zone receiving 500–1,000mm rainfall annually (cf arid, sub-humid,humid areas).

Soil-borne diseases – diseases that are causedby germs which are very resistant to harsh climatic conditions (e.g. heat and drought) andcan survive for a long time in the soil.

Sub-humid areas – zone receiving1,000–1,500mm rainfall annually (cf arid,semi-arid, humid areas).

Tragedy of the commons – an economicterm describing a social process in which publicgoods are over-utilised by individuals. It wasoften used to describe over-exploitation of common property rangelands by individuallivestock owners.

Transhumance – system of livestock produc-tion depending on seasonal migration of herds.This expression has replaced the better known

term “nomadism”, because it is now well estab-lished that most families migrating with theirherds maintain a permanent living base towhich they return regularly. Pure forms ofnomadism, characterised by people and theirherds moving constantly without local roots,rarely exists any more.

Tropical livestock unit (TLU) – unit which isused to compare the grazing requirements oflivestock. One TLU equals 1 head of cattle (or1 camel), or 10 sheep (or 10 goats).

Vectorial diseases – diseases which are trans-mitted by vectors (e.g. insects, snails, rodents,etc.).

Zoonosis – diseases which infect animals andhumans, and can be transmitted from animalsand humans (and vice versa).

6 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management


FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation (of the United Nations)ha Hectarekm Kilometremm MillimetreNGO Non-governmental organisationOIE Office Internationale des EpizootiesTLU Tropical Livestock UnitUNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

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Executive Summary

Livestock are commonly kept in many refugeesituations and, in many instances, form animportant part of community activities. Theyare also a fundamental requirement in manyreturnee situations given the broad range ofproducts which they can provide.

In addition to the selected products high-lighted below, additional reasons for enhancinglivestock-keeping practices in refugee andreturnee operations include:

ä limiting the negative impacts of certain animal species on the environment;

ä reducing conflicts with local communitiesover resource use;

ä developing livelihood security options forrefugees and returnees;

ä encouraging trade based on livestock-keeping;

ä preventing outbreaks and the spread of dis-eases to other herds as well as to people; and

ä ensuring that livestock products are safe forhuman consumption.

In both refugee and returnee situations,however, the circumstances governing livestockkeeping may vary considerably - from beingactively prohibited, to being tolerated or actual-ly openly accepted in some formal sense.Wherever livestock are kept, however, one canreliably expect these to have some impact onthe environmental, social and economic situa-tions of refugees and returnee communities.

Although livestock-keeping has such apotentially important role to play in refugee-related situations through enhancing humanwelfare and providing livelihood security, inmost instances livestock keeping is largelyunregulated. In consequence, complaints arecommonly aired by local people, especially withrelation to competition for natural resources(grazing land and water in particular), as well ashealth and disease associated with livestock.Large animal herds are also often an attractionfor bandits, whose presence in a refugee orreturnee operation can destabilise events.

UNHCR’s 1998 publication, Livestock inRefugee Situations, was the organisation’s firststep towards describing some of the commonconcerns relating to livestock issues in refugeesettings. With new experiences and approachesbeing tried and recognised, however, this guide-line is now too restricted in its coverage to provide ample assistance to staff and partnerorganisations responsible for advising on thissignificant issue. To reach a better understand-ing of what the most appropriate forms of live-stock keeping and management might be forspecific refugee operations, UNHCR has there-fore developed this Handbook on Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugeeand Returnee Situations. Intended as a practical user-guide for selected range of practi-tioners, this Handbook is expected to fill animportant gap in the management tools andguidelines available to UNHCR staff andimplementing partners, in particular.

7Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations



HoneyMeatMeatMeat, eggsMeatMeat, milkMeat, milkMeat, milk, bloodMeat, milk


BeeswaxBones (fertilizer)Skins, manureManureManureSkins, manureSkins, manureSkins, manureSkins


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For management purposes, and in order toavoid or minimise the level of environmentaldegradation and preserve relations with hostcommunities and government agencies, theprocess of livestock-keeping and management,in particular, needs to be taken into account atthe earliest possible stage of all refugee andreturnee operations and reviewed regularlythereafter.

This Handbook is aimed largely at man-agers and generalists - not livestock specialists -the intention being to explain, using practicalexperiences where possible, some of the mostcommon impacts associated with keeping live-stock, to identify what concerns need to be

addressed, and to illustrate a range of optionswhich might be taken or adapted to suit a par-ticular situation. Particular emphasis is given tothe fact that users of this Handbook will beworking with people who may be already famil-iar with keeping livestock. Pastoralists frommany African and Central Asian states, forexample, have long traditional associations withlivestock keeping and good animal husbandrypractices. Users of this Handbook should there-fore expect to learn from such people, butshould also find themselves in a position wherethey might be able to assist and advise herdersand others of options that might be available orbetter suited to a particular refugee or returneesituation.

8 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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9Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Livestock Management inRefugee-Related


1.1 Introduction

Livestock, which can be loosely defined as “cat-tle, horses, poultry and similar animals kept fordomestic use, but not as pets”, play an impor-tant, if not fundamental, role in human society.In addition to the draught services provided bysome of the larger varieties, many types of live-stock are able to use products such as kitchenwastes, grass from roadsides and wastelands,and crop residues, all of which are unused bypeople, and provide multiple products inreturn. Meat, eggs, milk and skins are amongthe products most readily sought from live-stock, while dung, urine and blood are com-monly used as fertilizers for gardens, fields andfish ponds. Owning certain types and numbersof livestock is also associated with considerablesocial status in many groups, a fact that mayoutweigh – and on occasion complicate – anytangible, practical benefit stemming from keep-ing livestock in such situations.

During recent decades, many of the eventsthat provoked refugee migrations took place insemi-arid and arid areas. Most of the refugeeswho fled from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia,Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan andother countries belonged to pastoral groupswhose household economy was traditionallybased totally or predominantly on mobile live-stock production, and whose cultural and socialvalues centred on sheep, goats, cattle and

camels. In many of the relief operations whichgrew around these situations, a strong interde-pendence emerged between these displacedpopulations and the livestock they kept – to theextent that the latter have on occasion turnedout to be the coping strategy most favoured byrefugees, at the individual and family levels inparticular.

Livestock-keeping is therefore a commonoccurrence in many refugee situations, withobvious social, economic and environmentalimplications, both positive and negative.Livestock are often also a fundamental consid-eration in repatriation programmes, many ofwhich may involve the provision of livestock asdraught or breeding animals, as sources ofpotential cash income, or as a more directmeans of survival. The wise management oflivestock – whether as an individual draughtanimal, a household flock of poultry, or a larg-er herd of grazing animals – would thereforeseem to be an appropriate and systematic stepto take in terms of generating or maintaininglivelihood security in all refugee and returneeoperations.

Livestock keeping by refugees or returnees,however, has considerable implications for localcommunities – many of which might alreadyhave substantial animal resources of their own.Nomadic communities too might suddenlyfind access to traditional resources denied orsimply no longer available to them followingthe establishment of a refugee camp or settle-ment in a region where livestock-keeping ispractised. Other issues of concern range frompersonal security (livestock are often the sourceof theft and internal conflicts) and diseasetransmission, to trade and food security.

Despite this importance, however, littledirect support appears to have been directedtowards the livestock sector, certainly in com-parison with others such as forestry and agricul-ture. In 1998, UNHCR issued Environmental


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10 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Guidelines – Livestock in RefugeeSituations, but little other guidance is availableon how to plan or manage livestock in refugeeor returnee operations. This is also reflected bythe fact that only one direct reference to live-stock can be found in a broad collection ofenvironment-related lessons from refugee fieldoperations over the past 15 years (Box 1). Therewould therefore seem to be a need to revisit thisimportant aspect of how refugees – as well aslocal communities and the environment –might benefit from more systematic but appro-priate management of livestock herds andflocks.

Recent thinking, trials and experienceshave resulted in a number of other approachesand practices being developed – many of whichare based on traditional, indigenous farmingsystems. Programme managers, implementingagencies and field practitioners could benefitfrom knowledge of some of these practices.

This current Handbook is intended largelyfor practitioners and – by identifying whatissues need to be addressed and what optionsmight prove relevant to a particular situation –provides practical guidance on how livestockmanagement might be improved in refugee andrepatriation operations. As with many otheraspects of humanitarian relief, however, no two

situations are likely to be the same, so thataddressing the needs and opportunities relatingto wise livestock management must be assessedand addressed on a case by case basis.

1.2 Livestock-Keeping in Refugee-Related Operations

Refugees may or may not be able to bring live-stock, especially larger animals, with them asthey flee their homes. Nonetheless, it is notuncommon for some form of livestock produc-tion to develop soon after the initial emergencyphase has passed. As with crop production, live-stock keeping is likely to form an importantpart of refugee/returnee community and liveli-hood activities. It may also serve to drawrefugees closer to members of their hostingcommunity, but could equally become thesource of an additional conflict.

Keeping livestock will not be possible in allrefugee operations (see Box 2), but it should bepossible in the following settings, at least:

ä in and around camps or settlements,where animals can be kept without the needfor much land, but can still supplement thefood basket and generate small amounts ofincome through;

l penned livestock in the home com-pound, using small cages or enclosures torestrain livestock (usually poultry, rabbits,pigs and other small animals) which arefed on household scraps and locally avail-able vegetation;

l free-ranging livestock that are at libertyto wander in the vicinity of the home com-pound scavenging for food;

l herded livestock that are kept outsidecamp limits, where they are grazed andwatered; and

Box 1i

An Environmental Study Should BeUndertaken Before Any Livestock Project Is


Any intervention in the livestock sub-sector,whether re-stocking, the provision of waterpoints or support to livestock health, will haveenvironmental implications. There may, forexample, be negative impacts on grazing areasor excessive demand on water supplies.Preliminary assessments of the likely impacts ofany intervention, particularly re-stocking, arerequired.

UNHCR, 2002a.

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11Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

l zero-grazed livestock (often cattle orgoats kept for milk) which are penned/constrained and managed, but are provid-ed with all of their food (collected fromwithin and around the camp/settlement)and water in-situ.

ä in organised rural settlements where live-stock keeping is undertaken as part of therefugee/ returnee communities’ subsistenceor economic activities under agreed pro-grammes of land use with local communitiesand authorities; and

ä in spontaneous settlements in towns andvillages, where refugees – to improve foodsecurity and perhaps generate some income– obtain access to land through theirown arrangements with local people orcommunities.

Reasons for supporting livestock keepingactivities among refugees and returnees are like-ly to include:

ä improving food and nutritional securitythrough eased access to fresh meat, milk,eggs, honey and other livestock-derivedproducts, as well as greater possibilities forachieving self-reliance and retrieving self-respect;

ä providing a basis for livelihoods in order to:

l develop self-reliance;l reduce operating costs for humanitarian

organisations (e.g. for relief food);l develop skills for future use; andl contribute to local and regional


ä providing transport as a means for movingproduce, materials and people;

ä providing power to ease land cultivation andimprove agricultural productivity.

Other reasons to become involved inrefugee livestock production processes, howev-er, relate more to providing opportunities forguiding the development of livestock-keepingin order that:

ä the scale and systems of livestock keepingadopted have minimal environmentalimpact;

ä livestock production does not lead to con-flict between host communities andrefugees, either through competition forgrazing or water, or damage to local cropsand woodland; and

ä maximum benefits are achieved in therefugee population, with particular benefitsfor the most needy.

Box 2i

Factors which May InfluenceLivestock-Keeping

Keeping livestock in a refugee or returneecontext might depend on:n the culture of the community – some tribes

have a far closer association with livestock, oreven certain types of animals, than others;

n the resources available to refugees orreturnees: some may have their own animalsfrom which they can breed or produce avalued commodity (eggs or milk forexample);

n the climate and other prevailing ecologicalconditions;

n access rights to land for constructing animalshelters, as well as for grazing and watering;

n an individual’s knowledge and skills to adapthis/her livestock management skills to a newsituation, to identify possible openings forlivestock outlets, or to be able to come to anamicable agreement with local communities,allowing him/her to engage in livestockkeeping; and

n the possible economic and/or social benefitsthis practice might attract.

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12 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Host communities are likely to keep live-stock for similar reasons – as a source of food, abasis for economic activities and a source ofpower. There are further values associated withlivestock, however, particularly among nomadand pastoralist groups for whom livestock haveimportant cultural values and associations. Inaddition to representing a bank account “on-the-hoof”, large herds of cattle, sheep, goatsand camels in rangeland areas represent aninsurance against drought and disease, whilecattle, in particular, are associated with manytraditions, beliefs and ceremonies in many partsof the world.

In addition to working with refugees,returnees and host communities to improvetheir livestock management, pasture and range-land management, and to improve productivityand reduce environmental impact, there are fur-ther reasons for involving these communities,including the need to:

ä ensure that benefits accrue to host commu-nities, through trade in animals and animalproducts;

ä limit the impact and controlling the spreadof livestock diseases and parasites. There islittle value in controlling diseases in parasitesin host community livestock if refugee live-stock continue to be carriers;

ä ensure that livestock products are safe forhuman consumption, and that refugees arenot exposed to contaminated products, live-stock transmitted diseases;

ä develop business opportunities between hostand refugee populations, based upon live-stock-keeping, trade, processing and othervalue-adding, for mutual benefit; and

ä establish an optimal balance in refugee andhost community livestock populations to

ensure that environmental implications areminimised.

Despite the clear importance of livestockin these situations, this sector is possibly one ofthe least well understood or appreciated in mostrefugee or returnee operations. This Handbookis intended to help address this oversight byexamining some of the most pertinent issuesassociated with keeping livestock in refugee-related situations, by examining possibleoptions which might help improve livestockmanagement in certain situations, and by pro-viding practical guidance on how to assessneeds and opportunities for any given situation.

Recognition is given to the fact that insome countries, host governments may allow –to varying extents – refugees to engage in live-stock keeping activities, but in others these areactively discouraged or possibly even preventedby law. Similarly, the location of a refugee campor settlement will influence what can and can-not be undertaken. While some form of live-stock rearing can be practised in most rural sit-uations, the physical siting of refugee campsand settlements, as well as their spatial arrange-ment and density, may make it impossible topractise conventional livestock keeping, whichmay give rise to herds still being maintained butat some other remote location.

If livestock keeping is an option, thisHandbook provides guidelines for thinkingthrough and planning activities that will sup-port appropriate and environmentally soundlivestock management and animal husbandrypractices. Specifically it should help users:

ä recognise what policies and regulations existand what actions are permitted;

ä work out what livestock people want tokeep, and for what reason(s);

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13Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

ä become aware of some of the positive andnegative impacts associated with livestock-keeping;

ä determine what species are most suited to aparticular situation;

ä decide what approaches and techniques arethe most appropriate; and

ä translate some of the practical guidance con-tained in the various sections into practice.

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Purpose and Useof this Handbook

2.1 Introduction

With a growing appreciation of the importanceof many forms of livestock among displacedpopulations, but realisation of the considerableand often lasting impacts this can have on thelocal environment and socio-economic situa-tion, a new focus is being placed on livestockkeeping by refugees and returnees, and the inter-actions it may have with local communities.

This Handbook has been prepared to helpdevelop a better understanding of what needs tobe considered when dealing with livestock pro-duction and management in a refugee orreturnee operation. Based on existing guidelines(UNHCR, 1998), it takes a fresh look at someof the main recurring issues experienced inplanning for and managing livestock herds,describes some recent experiences in this arenaand outlines a number of livestock-keeping andanimal husbandry options which might be con-sidered in a particular situation – all with a viewtowards enhancing management systems andreducing the negative environmental and socialimpacts often associated with livestock keeping.

The Handbook examines a range of specif-ic issues related to keeping livestock, exploresopportunities to minimise environmentalimpacts and provides guidelines for developinglocally appropriate initiatives. It is written witha focus on:

ä the needs and rights of refugees, returneesand the communities among whom they areliving, to use livestock as a possible means ofimproving their livelihoods;

ä improving current livestock managementpractices and systems in refugee and relatedoperations through, inter alia, linkages withother sectors and environmental activitiesthat might be planned or already underway;

ä identifying opportunities which might ariseallowing these affected communities toengage more openly and effectively in thelivestock sector; and

ä minimising environmental problems fre-quently associated with agricultural activitiesin refugee-related settings.

The Handbook provides a summary of keyissues and some practical guidance for the live-stock sector in refugee and returnee situations –a sector which is often overlooked in humani-tarian operations, but is nonetheless of consid-erable importance to displaced people as well asto host communities.

2.2 Using this Handbook

As with other titles in this series, thisHandbook is designed for programme andtechnical staff of UNHCR, both in the fieldand Headquarters, and its implementing part-ners. In particular it is intended for projectmanagers, planners and trainers (who may notbe specialists in agriculture or natural resourcemanagement). The Handbook will also be rele-vant to individual refugees and local peoplewho practise some form and scale of livestock-keeping, but it cannot be expected to reach thislevel in every case.

14 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management


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15Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

The Handbook is intended to be relevantto different situations, ranging from pre-emer-gency/ preparedness planning to an emergency,but will most commonly be of use during thecare and maintenance phase, longer-term reset-tlement arrangements and in returnee situa-tions. It addresses equally the needs of refugees,returnees and the local population, amongwhich the former may be living.

Not all of the Handbook will be relevant toall readers – different parts may be more usefulto those with different roles and responsibilities.However, it is expected to be of assistance to:

ä managers and planners as an introductorytool to help introduce the main issues relat-ing to livestock keeping and good husbandrypractices within the limitations under whichthey work. Important sections of theHandbook are possibly those describingbasic consideration and options for livestockkeeping (Section 3);

ä for practitioners, including refugees andreturnees, who themselves can review possi-ble options and adopt or modify theseaccordingly when they see a window ofopportunity for improving local environ-mental conditions (Section 4 and Annex 1);and

ä for implementing partner field staff, trainersand extension agents the Handbook pro-vides an additional section on how to assessthe situation on the ground and how to putmuch of the theory into practise (Section 5).

Users of the Handbook are cautioned thatwhile the information provided in the followingsections should help them make judgementsbased on careful processes of data and situation

analyses, this is no replacement for practicalknowledge of livestock keeping and good animal husbandry. While true in many situa-tions, it is especially relevant in relation to thelivestock sector, and nowhere more so than indealings with pastoralist communities.

To further benefit from this Handbook itwill be useful if a number of resources and skillsare available, including:

ä some knowledge and experience of livestockproduction and relevant cultural and envi-ronmental issues;

ä an open approach towards livestock manage-ment and production, particularly in termsof identifying innovative and more environ-mentally sound approaches towards manag-ing this sector;

ä an understanding of project design andmanagement – especially important toprevent livestock issues being dealt with inisolation;

ä resources for accessing the Internet and/orobtaining other useful publications. To beeffective, this Handbook cannot be compre-hensive in its coverage of detail, so it identi-fies other literature and points of referencewhere more additional information might beobtained; and

ä funds, or the potential for funding, for specific activities. Typical project/pro-gramme costs might include training andextension, equipment, medicines for live-stock welfare, as well as animals themselves,many of which might not be covered withinexisting humanitarian support budgets.

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Livestock Management:Some Basic


3.1 Introduction

Livestock can play an integral part in the wel-fare of many families and communities. Whilethe basic characteristics of keeping and caringfor animals should not vary much between astable community and people living in a refugeeor returnee context, what can be expected todiffer is the conditions that allow, or prevent,the keeping of livestock, especially larger ani-mals. Space allocation alone will determine ifany livestock can be maintained around ahomestead. The availability of forage and watertoo will determine what, if any, form of live-stock-keeping might be practised. Added tothis, however, may be local restrictions on keep-ing livestock, perhaps for a range of reasonssuch as a fear of disease outbreaks, or culturaltaboos. The presence of additional livestockmay also lead to excessive use of forage sprout-ing after the rains, thus reducing the availabili-ty of dry season forage for local community use.Additional concentrations of livestock alsorequire more water, and local sites of high bio-logical diversity can be put under pressure ifherd sizes suddenly increase.

Many economic and livelihood securitydecisions revolve around the livestock herd.Livestock are important for subsistence needs,but most pastoral systems are also well integrat-ed into the market economy of their countries.Livestock products such as milk, meat and eggsprovide high quality protein for human nutri-

tion. In traditional societies, most of the pro-duced milk is consumed within the family,while cash is generated from the sale of live ani-mals. Livestock herds are thus commonly treat-ed as capital assets and the size of the herds isrelated to risk minimisation. A herd of 40 to 60sheep and goats, or 5 to 10 head of cattle is theminimum subsistence level for a poor house-hold of two adults and one or two children. Ifanimal numbers fall below this range, produc-tion becomes unviable, and households may beforced to abandon the pastoral sector.

Planners, in particular, must recognise andrespect traditional land-use systems. Pastoralismis not, as some may consider, an outmodedlivelihood system, but is a very efficient methodof livestock production and a key strategy formany communities to overcome drought andfodder shortages in marginal and semi-aridrangelands. The inappropriate siting of refugeecamps or settlements, leading perhaps to vege-tation loss as a result of collecting fuelwood andbuilding materials, as well as grazing and brows-ing by refugee livestock may disrupt traditionalresource use and management systems, andimpact on important seasonal grazing lands.This can be catastrophic to host communitiesreliant on their livestock, affecting their liveli-hoods and providing a basis for antagonism andhostility between the host community andrefugees.

Some basic considerations outlined belowneed to be addressed at the outset of a refugeeor returnee operation: findings from these willhelp shape decisions relating to possible live-stock management.

3.2 Traditional and Legal Rulesand Regulations

All interventions related to refugee livestockhave to consider the laws and regulations of thehost country. These include:

16 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management


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17Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

ä traditional grazing and watering rights;

ä access rules and land tenure rights;

ä laws of the veterinary service;

ä regulations regarding movement of animalsand quarantine;

ä regulations on notifiable diseases;

ä import rules for veterinary drugs andvaccines;

ä rules for meat inspection; and

ä market regulations.

Although it might at first seem arduous tohave to consider all of these issues before decid-ing how to approach the livestock managementissue, these are among the most basic essentials,knowledge of which will determine and shapethe entire prospect of keeping livestock in arefugee or returnee situation.

3.3 Livestock to Suit theConditions

Keeping livestock of a particular breed or breedsmay not be possible in all situations, primarilyon account of the prevailing ecological condi-tions, rainfall being one of the most decisive.Social conditions may also influence decisionson what animals to keep: pigs-keeping, forexample, will be frowned upon by Muslim peo-ple, while others may have a strong traditionalaffinity to keeping only cattle of one breed. Anindication of what forms of indigenous stockkeeping can be expected to be sustained in sub-Saharan Africa is shown in Table 1.

Meat inspection for health purposes

Occasional nomadic stock keepingNomadism with long migrationsAll types of nomadism, transhumance with some arable farmingSemi-nomadism, transhumance, but more emphasis on arable farmingTranshumance and partial nomadism, even more emphasis on cropsSedentary agriculture (semi-nomadism only the result of tradition)


CamelsCamelsCattle, goats, sheepCattle, goats, sheepCattle, goatsCattle, goats,monogastrics

Table 1. Types of indigenous stock keeping in sub-Saharan Africa (Ogle, 1998)

Rainfall (mm/year) Predominant type of farming Main species kept

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3.4 Impacts Commonly Associatedwith Livestock-Keeping

A fundamental concern relating to livestock-keeping and animal husbandry is the impactthis activity will have not only on the immedi-ate environment but also in relation to socialand economic issues. Careful assessment willneed to be made to identify the most likelyimpacts of specific forms of livestock keepingand husbandry. Such information can then beused to try and regulate livestock managementpractices for the benefit of all concerned (see forexample Box 3).

A decision on whether to allow livestock inor around refugee settlements (see also Section4), has to be made by weighing positive andnegative effects together, and by taking intoconsideration certain rules and regulations(Section 3.2). The following remarks should beused as a guide for decision making.

3.4.1 Some Positive Impacts of Livestock-keeping

While not necessarily refugee specific, the following positive aspects of good livestockmanagement practices should be noted.

Fertilization of soils. Livestock manure isa valuable fertilizer that is widely used toimprove crop production. The use of animalmanure reduces the amount of artificial fertiliz-er necessary which, while saving money andadding nutrients to the soil, also helps preservethe soil structure. Excessive collection of cowmanure for use as a fuel source can deprive thesoil and plants of valuable nutrients.

Stimulation of plant growth. Modestgrazing – which almost invariably requires closeherding and co-ordination between herders –and the associated disturbance of ground cover,can stimulate the growth of certain plants.

Reduction of water run-off. The stimula-tion of plant growth on rangelands reduces therisk of soil erosion, as long as stocking rates areappropriate to the available biomass.

Efficient use of natural resources. Manycrop by-products and residues from processingagricultural products can be used for animal

18 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Livestock products – positive impacts

Box 3i

Livestock and Crop Production

Agro-pastoralists in Nigeria use the hoof actionof livestock to prepare land for growing smallcereals. By concentrating cattle on a small areaof cleared land, the earth is gradually brokeninto smaller fragments through continuedtrampling. This reduces the level of manuallabour required to prepare the soil – seed cansimply be broadcast over the broken soilsurface the following morning.

In a similar example of wise livestockmanagement, farmers in parts of the Near Eastuse goats to weed crops. While this mightinitially seem like a recipe for certain disaster,the key to this strategy is to allow the goats tosatisfy their initial appetite on natural pastureand only then to move them into cereal fieldswhere they will selectively eat the herbaceousweeds.

Source: Based on Reijntjes, Haverkort and Waters-Bayer,1992.

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19Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

feed – an efficient use of resources that have lit-tle other practical value.

Savings in renewable and non-renewableresources. Livestock can help save renewableand non-renewable energy resources (fuelwood,petrol or diesel fuel) by providing:

ä draught power – cattle, buffalo, donkeys andcamels can be used as draught animals inagriculture and transport, e.g. for operatingoil mills, drawing water or ploughing smallgardens; and

ä fuel – animal, particularly cattle, dung whendried is used for cooking and heating inmany parts of the world. Manure is also themain input for biogas plants, which can beused to produce gas for cooking and lighting(see UNHCR 2002b).

Food and income generation. Livestockprovides valuable food for human nutrition,particularly in pastoral societies where dairyproducts are available. The availability of ani-mals as a food source can help reduce theamount of food required from outside sourcesduring the emergency and care and mainte-nance phases (see also Box 4). As noted in manyparts of this Handbook, livestock production isalso one of the best options for promoting foodself-sufficiency among refugees and returnees.

3.4.2 Some Negative Impacts of Livestock-keeping

A number of concerns will come to the fore inrefugee operations, particularly in situationswhere refugees bring their livestock herds withthem. These concerns will vary considerablydepending on the local situation – mainly withregards to local ecological conditions, social sys-tems and existing stocking practices. Some ofthe possible impacts, which can tend to out-weigh the positive benefits noted above, are list-ed below. Impacts on Natural Resources

Deterioration of plant cover/overgrazing. Anincreased number of animals can have negativeimpacts on rangelands and crops, and canpotentially lead to serious land degradation.Serious overgrazing and deterioration of plantcover through trampling can be observed gener-ally around refugee camps and other settle-ments, watering places and animal markets.With growing animal numbers, the carryingcapacity of the rangelands can be exceeded andthe productivity of the grazing animals and theland will be reduced. If not well managed, ani-mal herds can also partly or totally damageunprotected fields by eating crops and throughtrampling.

Cutting of bushes and trees. Livestockherders frequently cut bushes and trees to con-struct temporary night enclosures for theirflocks. Foliage may also be cut from trees as ani-mal fodder. Both activities can be a significantcontribution to localised deforestation.

Destruction of seedlings and trees. Ifunprotected, tree seedlings and young saplingswill be eaten by livestock, especially goats. Fewseedlings will recover once they have had theirgrowing shoot removed.

If not controlled, animals cancause damage to trees and crops

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Reduction of biodiversity. Many tradi-tional societies have developed particular rulesto regulate the co-existence of livestock andwildlife. In refugee and returnee situations,where conditions are rarely as stable as withnormal society, increasing and increased live-stock production on rangelands is likely to havea negative impact on local flora and fauna, par-ticularly through increased competition for veg-etation and water resources. Habitat loss, alter-ation and fragmentation – all resulting fromovergrazing – can eventually contribute tospecies extinction.

Depletion of water resources. In refugeesettlements, water resources are often limited.Without timely and strict control, the presenceof large animal herds can contribute to thedepletion and pollution of these resources. Social Conflicts

Disruption of traditional livestock produc-tion patterns. In most parts of Africa and Asia,people have developed well adapted patterns ofland-use. In situations where people migrate

with their livestock to other countries, continu-ation of this type of production becomes unvi-able. The consequent loss of herds implies astrong psychological dilemma for refugees wholose possibly the only economic base they arefamiliar with and, perhaps more seriously, thefocus of their family life and culture.

Competition for rangelands. Refugeelivestock compete with local herds for limitedresources. With an increased overall density ofgrazing animals the production of local herdsmay decline.

Conflicts with local population.Competition for rangeland and the destructionof crops is a relatively frequent reason for con-flicts between refugees and the local population.If land tenure and grazing rights are violated,traditional grazing systems will be affected andimbalanced. Impacts on Public Health

Water pollution. Uncontrolled watering ofanimals bears the risk of transmission of

20 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Box 4i

Contribution of Food and Food-Related Products to the Total Value of Livestock Production (Ogle, 1998)

The importance of some simple services provided by certain livestock species is often ignored. In EastAfrica, however, estimates show that the value of manure and animal traction equals the value of meat(see below). If extrapolated to the sub-Saharan region as a whole, this figure would increase the totalgross value of livestock products by about one-third. As mixed crop-livestock systems (see Section 4.4)expand the relative importance of animal traction and manure will grow.

Sub-Saharan Africa




West Africa21



Central Africa31



East Africa39



Southern Africa26




OutputAnimal tractionManureMeatMilkEggsTotal

Percentage of gross value of output

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diseases from animals to animals and from ani-mals to humans, through water pollution withanimal faeces.

Air pollution. In certain conditions, themovement of large number of animals inrefugee camps/settlements produces dust thatcan be a cause of respiratory diseases in humans.

Slaughtering wastes. The uncontrolledslaughtering of animals in refugee camps or set-tlements is a threat to human health, particular-ly if proper storage and cooking of meat is notpossible. Slaughtering wastes can also pollutethe soil and water if not disposed of correctly.

Health hazards caused by uncontrolleduse of veterinary drugs. If veterinary drugs areprovided to refugees, control over their applica-tion has to be ensured. Many drugs used forprophylactic and clinical treatment of livestockmay have negative impacts on the health ofhumans. For example:

ä externally applied solutions of acaricides(drugs used to eliminate external parasites)may contaminate the soil, food and foodstorage containers; and

ä most drugs are stored in the body tissue ofthe animals treated (i.e. in the fat and meat),and are partly excreted with the animal’smilk. People consuming the meat or milk oftreated animals within a certain period oftime after application – which is specific foreach drug – also ingest a small amount ofthese drugs, which can produce unwanted,and potentially serious side-effects.

Disease transmission. In refugee settle-ments, the transmission of zoonotic diseasesfrom animals to humans is nurtured by thecloseness of animals and humans (Table 2).Malnourishment, stress and diseases that weak-en the human immune system aggravate theimpact of zoonoses.

At the same time, a number of other diseases – some of which can reach epidemicproportions if not controlled in time – aretransmitted directly form animal to animal orvia a separate vector such as ticks or biting flies.Further, more specific, information on diseasesis given in Section 3.5.

Cattle if not well managedcan cause damage to crops

21Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

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3.5 Disease Avoidance andControl

Good animal health is essential for successfulfarming. Veterinary care in terms of preventioncan greatly help improve livestock productionbut this is usually an expensive undertaking,often beyond the reach of many refugees orreturnees. In traditional livestock systems, cattleowners try to avoid problems from occurring inthe first place using a combination of approach-es which could be applied simply to refugee-related situations. These include:

ä using indigenous veterinary medicines;and/or

ä learning to cope with disease by spreadingrisks, e.g. through keeping mixed herds, byusing animals tolerant to local diseases, andby avoiding flock/herd mixing with others.

3.5.1 Common Livestock Diseases

People are often at risk from contracting diseasefrom livestock, a situation which is onlyreduced or prevented if good animal husbandry

practices are put in place and regularly moni-tored. Some of the most important diseaseswhich can be transmitted from animals tohumans – zoonosis – are shown in Table 2.

The spread of diseases from one animal toanother is one of the main risks when livestockfrom different areas mix. If not vaccinated, ani-mals brought in from other regions tend tohave hardly any resistance to local diseases.Diseases may be of an epidemic nature, or maybe vector or soil borne. The main epidemic diseases prevalent in Africa and Asia are listedin Table 3.

In longer term settlements – protractedcare and maintenance operations, for example,careful consideration should also be given to thefact that refugees may acquire additionalincome which will be used to buy new, localanimals. This will result in the mixing of localand “imported” livestock – a common practicethat can potentially spread disease.

Unlike the above, vector or soil-borne diseases are not transmissible from one animalto another. Intermediate hosts such as mosqui-toes, ticks, fleas and flies carry the infectiveagents of vectorial diseases. The causative agentsof soil-borne diseases survive in the soil for along time and can infect animals throughwounds or if the animals feed on infected areas.In such cases, disease pressure is closely relatedto the density and the species of the vector. Themain important vector and soil borne diseasesare listed in Table 4.

In Africa, the most important vector-bornedisease in terms of economic losses is try-panosomiasis – bovine sleeping sickness –found in major parts of sub-humid Africa, butnot in the semi-arid and arid parts of the conti-nent. It is transmitted by tsetse flies. Herds will be affected up to 100 per cent if movedfrom a tsetse-free to a tsetse-infested area.

22 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Inputs required for animal health

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23Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

CattleCattle, goats, sheepCattle, sheep, goatsCattle, poultryPoultryAll animalsCattle, sheep, goatsGoatsDogs, cats, cattle, sheep, goatsDogsCattle, pigsAll animals

Human and bovine tuberculosisBrucellosisAnthraxSalmonellosisCryptococcosisTrychophytiasisRift Valley feverParapox (Orf)RabiesEchinococcosisTape wormsFleas and mites

Directly (air, milk)Milk, woundsMeatFaecesAirContactContact (wounds)ContactBites, woundsFaecesMeatContact

Table 2. Diseases which can be Transmitted from Animals to Humans

Disease Main HostMode of Transmission

CattleSheep, goatsCattle


Cattle, sheep, goats, camels, pigsCattle, sheep, goats, camels, poultryPigsPigsHorsesHorsesPoultry

RinderpestSmall ruminant pestsContagious bovine

pleuropneumonia Contagious caprine

pleuropneumonia Foot-and-mouth diseasePox diseasesEuropean swine feverAfrican swine feverAfrican horse sicknessGlandersNewcastle disease




Table 3. Important Epidemic Livestock Diseases in Africa and Asia

Name of Disease Species Mainly AffectedVaccination Available?

Note: most of these diseases are caused by viruses and no treatment is available. They are eitherper-acute, i.e. animals die instantly, or acute - high mortality rates must be expected. Antibiotictreatment can be effective for the cure of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and contagiouscaprine pleuropneumonia.

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Beside transmitting diseases, biting insectsthemselves can become a constraint to livestockproduction. Biting flies and ticks, in particular,which suck blood, depress growth and milkproduction.

One way to overcome or prevent these vec-tor-borne diseases is to use insecticides in so-called cattle dips. This allows farmers to main-tain animals with higher production levelsbecause natural resistance tends to be at theexpense of milk and meat output, but is onlyuseful in the short-term and does not have alasting impact on the tick population or the dis-ease. In addition, ticks develop resistance toacaricides. Local species of cattle and goats,however, have more genetic resistance to thesemicro-organisms than exotic breeds with highermilk or meat yields, so it is worth investing insuch species from the outset. Notice should alsobe taken of the Food and Agriculture

Organisation’s (FAO) strategy on ticks and tick-borne diseases programmes which aim topromote integrated tick and tick-borne diseasecontrol methods that include immunisation,when applicable, and increasing peoples’ aware-ness about resistance of ticks to acaricides (seealso Box 5).

Factorial diseases are caused by micro-organisms or worms, which are carried by mostanimals without causing any harm. Under nor-mal conditions, livestock develop mild resist-ance to these diseases. However, if additionalstress is imposed on the animals, for examplethrough food shortages or forced movementover long distances, the animal’s susceptibilityto these diseases increases and the animals beginto exhibit clinical symptoms. A typical exampleis pasteurellosis, more commonly known as“shipping disease” – a disease caused by bacteria(Pasteurella). If well-managed, animals infected

24 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Treatment/mode ofapplication of drugsTrypanocides (injection)Trypanocides (injection)Different injectable drugsdifferent injectable drugsdifferent injectable drugsantibiotic (injection)antibiotic (injection)nonenoneantibiotic (injection)none (per-acute disease)none (per-acute disease)none (per-acute disease)none (per-acute disease)

Species Mainly AffectedCattleCamels, horsesCattleCattle, sheep, goatsCattleCattleCattleHorsesSheepCattle, sheep, goatsCattle, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigsSheep, goats, cattleCattle, sheepSheep

Mode ofTransmission/VectorTsetse flyBiting fliesTicksTicksTicksTicksTicksMosquitoesMosquitoesFliesSoilSoilSoilSoil



Name of DiseaseBovine trypanosomiasisSurra (trypanosomiasis)AnaplasmosisBabesiosisTheileriasisHeartwaterRift Valley feverEquine encephalomyelitisBluetongueInfectious kerato-conjunctivitisAnthraxEnterotoxaemiaBlacklegBlack disease, Bradsot

Table 4. Important Vector or Soil-borne Livestock Diseases in Africa and Asia

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25Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Treatment/mode of application of drugsAntibiotic (injection)Antibiotic (spray)Acaricide (dipping, spraying, pour-on)Sulfonamide, other coccidiostatica (injection or via feed)Anthelmintics (drenching, boli, injection)

Species Mainly AffectedCattle, buffaloes, yaksCattle, sheepSheep, goats, camels, cattleCattle, sheep, goats, poultryAll species



Name of DiseasePasteurellosisFoot rotMangeCoccidiaRound worms

Table 5. Factorial Livestock Diseases in Africa and Asia

with these germs do not normally get sick, butoutbreaks appear typically after animals arecrowded for transport, and during cold and wetseasons (Table 5).

3.5.2 Maintaining Animal Health

A healthy animal has a much better feed con-version rate, so it makes sense for any livestockowner to ensure that his/her animals are alwaysin the best of shape. While disease prevention isthe favoured means of preventing an animal orherd/flock of animals from contracting a diseasein the first instance, it is often beyond the reachof an individual or community to do this –especially in a refugee context.

The supply of veterinary inputs and provi-sion for animal health are the most importantand cost-efficient interventions needed toimprove the productivity of refugees’ livestockherds. Improving the health status of animalstherefore increases the carrying capacity ofrangelands and results in a higher productivityper hectare of land. The implementation ofmass prophylactic campaigns, i.e. vaccinationsand preventive anti-parasitic treatment, needsan economic assessment which considers thecost/benefit ratio of specific disease preventionor eradication campaigns and alternativestrategies.

In some situations it will be obvious thatveterinary intervention is the best or onlyoption. On other occasions, however, it mightbe more appropriate to consider possible alter-native strategies for disease control. Questionswhich assist in the evaluation of priorities foralternative disease control strategies can befound in Annex II. Among the strategies whichmight be considered to help prevent, controland/or reduce disease include:

ä control of movement (border control,import restrictions, control of border dis-tricts, issuance of health certificates, controlof livestock markets). In most cases relatedto a sudden influx of large numbers ofrefugees with their animals, control of move-ment is difficult to implement;

Box 5i

Traditional Means of Animal DiseaseTransmission

One proven means of protecting livestock fromvector-borne disease is to avoid areas of highrisk in certain periods. For example, Fulanicattle keepers in the sub-humid zone of WestAfrica avoid infested grazing areas andminimize the time spent at watering pointswhere vectors are most likely to occur. In thewet season, grazing is delayed until late in themorning, as worm infestation on grass ishighest early in the morning. Fires are builtnext to cattle pens to keep away biting insectsat night and, when outbreaks do occur, thelivestock owners avoid infected areas.

FAO. 2001

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ä control of individual herds (restriction ofpurchases and sale of animals, fencing, disin-fection, quarantine, destruction of infectedanimals or animals at risk, disposal ofdead/slaughtered animals);

ä monitoring of diseases;

ä vaccination and prophylactic treatment; and

ä vector control.

Once such an assessment has been carriedout, a number of options should then be avail-able, including the following.

Vaccination campaigns. If planned prop-erly, vaccination campaigns have the highestcost/benefit ratio of all veterinary interventions.Endemic and epidemic diseases caused by virus-es, such as rinderpest or foot-and-mouth dis-ease, can only be controlled by vaccination. Thekind of vaccination programmes which need tobe applied can only be decided on the basis ofthe experience of local veterinarians. Plans formass vaccination campaigns can also be dis-cussed with the World Organisation for AnimalHealth – Office Internationale des Epizooties(O.I.E.) (,which can advise on the necessity and feasibili-ty of options. If disease outbreaks with a highnumber of fatal cases are reported, the diseaseshould be investigated and certified by a recog-nised specialist.

Prophylactic treatment against endo-and ecto-parasites. The second kind of masstreatment relates to strategic anti-parasitic treat-ment. Animals that are free from internal andexternal parasites have a higher chance of sur-viving nutritional stress and are less susceptibleto infectious diseases. Treatment against inter-nal and external parasites increases the feed con-version rate and therefore the carrying capacityof the range. Depending on disease prevalence,other options include prophylactic treatment

against trypanosomes, babesiosis and theilerio-sis. The main options for parasite control are:

ä control of endoparasites (round and tapeworms) – strategic deworming; and/or

ä control of ectoparasites (ticks, mites, fleas,flies) – dipping, spraying, pour-onacaricides.

Control of trypanosomiasis. The optionsto control trypanosomiasis can be categorised asfollows:

ä control of the vectors – tsetse flies: aerialspraying with insecticides and clearance ofthe vector habitat (bushland) are economi-cally and environmentally questionable andshould only be implemented after carefulconsideration of all other options, includingthe option of doing nothing. An environ-mentally friendly, but labour intensivemethod is the application of fly traps that areimpregnated with natural substances attract-ing flies. Another technique is based on thedistribution of a high number of male tsetseflies that have been sterilised through radia-tion; and/or

ä chemotherapy and chemoprophylaxis: pro-phylactic treatment of animals with try-panocides is economically justified only incases of very high disease pressure. Treatmentof sick animals has a significant positiveeffect on the productivity, particularly ofmilk animals.

Community animal health care. Anyoperations that support livestock production ofrefugees should include training programmesfor community animal health workers. Traineesshould be selected from the refugee communi-ty. Their main duties should be related to para-site control (application of deworming drugsand acaricides against insects). If properlytrained, they can, under the supervision of a

26 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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27Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

veterinarian, also assist in vaccination pro-grammes. Their function in curative treatmentof individual animals is limited to certain dis-eases like wounds, simple gastro-enteral distur-bances and light infectious diseases. The appli-cation of injectable drugs like antibiotics andtrypanocides should be restricted, because inap-propriate application can have negative effectson the animals, but also on humans consumingthe milk and meat of treated animals.

Besides preventive and curative treatment,community animal health workers carry outother important tasks. They act as extensionworkers and, if trained in simple monitoringtechniques, as key informants on livestockdevelopment and disease outbreaks.

Traditional treatment. All livestock pro-ducing societies have a rich culture of tradition-al wisdom on the treatment of sick animals.This can be used to save resources and todevelop a spirit of trust with the refugees.Traditional healers should be identifiedamong the refugee or host populationand they may be trained as communityanimal health care workers.

Traditional treatment offers a viablealternative to conventional western-styleveterinary medicine, especially where thelatter is unavailable, unaffordable or inap-propriate. Such ethno-veterinary medicinecan provide low-cost health care for simpleanimal health issues, although it tends tobe ineffective against infectious diseases.

Many of the plants used in animalhealth care are easily available, but non-plant substances are also used. For exam-ple, warm stout is given to animals afterthey have given birth to help remove theafterbirth, while cobwebs are used on cutsto help stop bleeding. Some of the plantsused are multipurpose such as guava (Psidiumguajava), bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris), rice

(Oryza sativa), turmeric (Curcuma longa), aloe(Aloe vera), banana (Musa spp.) and Kalanchoepinnata. These plants are either already foundon farms or they can easily be grown. Many ofthese plants also have a food value. For example,an excess of green bananas can be ground,boiled and fed to stock as a source of carbohy-drates and iron. Guava fruits and leaves containuseful vitamins. Cymbopogon citratus andOcimum gratissimum can be used to make deli-cious teas. Medicinal plants to treat ruminantsare used mainly for internal parasites, internaland external injuries and pregnancy-relatedconditions. Farmers usually boil the plants to

Maintaining animal health through veterinary services

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make a decoction. Other plants are adminis-tered as teas, in which water is boiled andthrown on to the fresh leaves, which are thenleft to steep. The resulting infusion is thenadministered once or over a period of days.Bamboo joints, thin-necked bottles or otherappropriate instruments are used to drench theanimals. As with any technology, however, carehas to be taken in the use of indigenous medi-cine and application of knowledge.Nonetheless, more attention to the potential ofthese approaches is likely to unlock a vast areaof useful knowledge for conditions wheremodern medicine is out of reach (FAO, 2001).

3.5.3 Avoiding Negative Impacts on PublicHealth

Public health issues should remain a priorityconcern wherever livestock-keeping is beingpractices or considered in refugee or returneeoperations. A broad range of factors need to beconsidered from the basic fact that manydomestic animals attract flies and other diseasecarrying insects, to the transmission of diseasesfrom animals to humans, to the safe use of veterinary drugs, as described below.

Careful use of veterinary drugs.Veterinary drugs should be applied only bytrained staff. Since the toxicity of drugs varies,the following drug-handling precautions arerecommended:

ä community animal health care workers canapply wound treatment, drugs againstworms, and some kinds of acaricides. Thefirst two types of drugs can even be handedout to informed farmers, if no trained staffare available;

ä most acaricides are very toxic, and should onlybe administered by well-trained personnel,who should wear plastic gloves for protection;

ä antibiotics and other anti-infective drugsshould be applied by veterinarians, or inabsence, by para-vets;

ä dips for mass treatment of animals againstecto-parasites should be located in somedistance from settlements, protected againstleaking, and administered by trainedpersonnel;

ä all drugs have to be stored out of reach ofchildren, and household training coursesshould convey messages on their potentialtoxicity.

Abattoirs. Slaughtering of animals inrefugee settlements should be strictly limited toconfined slaughtering places. These placesshould be established at the periphery of thesettlements. Before establishing a small-scaleabattoir, the problem of waste disposal has to besolved. Most by-products from slaughtering canbe converted into animal feeds, if properly ster-ilised, dried and ground. Manuals for designingsmall-scale feed mills are available from theFAO ( All slaughterhouse wastesthat are not used must be dumped a safe dis-tance from the settlement and, if possible,burned. If burning is not feasible, the disposalpits must be at least two metres deep.

Separation of water points for humanand animal consumption. Because of the riskof contamination, watering places for humansand animals have to be strictly separated. Wellswhich supply water for human consumptionshould be surrounded by a wall or fence to keepanimals out. Livestock watering places at riversshould be located downstream from the campand settlement areas, and downstream from anypotable water points.

The distribution of water points and thetiming of their use have direct impact on rangequality. If possible, pasture areas that are under-utilised because of a lack of watering points

28 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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should be identified. New water points couldthen be established to reduce local overgrazing.Local pastoral groups could assist in thisprocess, which would be of benefit to them aswell.

In cases of inadequate supply, the use oftraditional and modern water harvesting tech-niques such as surface catchment basins shouldbe assessed to collect rain water.

Prevention of zoonotic diseases.Strategies for preventing the transmission ofzoonotic diseases from animals to humansshould include the following considerations:

3.6 Housing

Domesticated animals live, by definition, inand around the homesteads of people.Depending on what stock are being kept, theywill be sheltered either literally in the house,confined to a pen or stable in the home com-pound, or herded at some distance from thehome. Some breeds are commonly corralled atnight time. The benefits, i.e. the reasons forhousing and management in this way can varywidely but include aspects such as:

ä protection against climatic conditions;

ä excreta management – collecting dung forfuel or fertilizer being easier from a confinedarea;

ä disease control;

ä prevention of theft or damage by predators;

ä saving of labour;

ä control of product quality; and

ä prevention of damage to crops.

Housing for animals, however, demands anadded investment and can be a source of envi-ronmental impact both in terms of cuttingwood to establish shelters or corrals, as well astending to focus the impact of livestock move-ments and grazing patterns in the immediatearea. Housing or movement control options –which can help reduce certain environmentalimpacts – include grazing animals behindfences, tethering cattle which are moved eachday, or zero grazing, where animal feed isbrought to the animals and where the dung iscollected. The choice of whether to house ani-mals or not can be important: for example, theloss of eggs and chicks due to predators and dis-eases can be decreased and the output of poul-try production can be increased by at least

29Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Suggested Action(s)Regular monitoring and screeningof livestock diseasesAwareness raising on the impactsof zoonoses, food hygiene,cleanliness of plots, and the needfor animal vaccinationsScreening and testing of animals;removal and safe disposal oftuberculosis positive animals.Extension agents shouldconcentrate on food hygiene, e.g.boiling of milkScreening and testing of animals;removal and safe disposal oftuberculosis positive animals;vaccination of calves. Extensionagents should concentrate onfood hygiene, e.g. boiling of milkRegular vaccination of dogs andcats; control and removal ofinfected animals – wild anddomesticRegular food inspection

Activity/IncidentGeneral measures

Extension programmes




Tape worms

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30 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

20 per cent, if simple construction material isprovided for chicken housing.

Shelter from the wind, sun or rain, as wellas adequate ventilation, are essential aspects ofall animal housing. Overcrowding, too, shouldbe avoided as this can be detrimental to animalhealth, and therefore eventual production.Depending on the climate, simple solutions forhousing should be sought. Instead of cuttingbushes to fence in cattle, goats and sheep,refugees should be encouraged to plant “livingfences”, e.g. hedges or thorn bushes which willgrow and provide forage and shelter. Housingof cattle, sheep and goats in camps should berestricted to limited numbers, and only allowedif sufficient space is available and at least a basicanimal health service can be provided. A milkcow needs at least 5m2 space, while a sheep orgoat would need at least 1m2. Four adult chick-ens can be kept on 1m2.

3.7 Carrying Capacity

Carrying capacity, which may be defined as “thenumber of animals which can be maintained ona given area of land without disturbing theequilibrium of plant growth and livestock production on the range”, is one of the mostimportant considerations when it comes to

successfully managing herds of mid-large sizedlivestock.

Most rangeland scientists now agree thatthe impact of extensive grazing as an environ-mental problem had been greatly overestimat-ed. In the semi-arid regions of Africa, the NearEast and Central Asia, pastoral (mobile) live-stock production is now seen as an appropriateand sustainable form of land use that is – froman environmental and economic perspective –less risky than cropping.

The size of pastoral herds follows cyclicalpatterns controlled by the alternation of rainyand dry seasons and by the regular occurrence ofdroughts. Livestock herds seldom reach the car-rying capacity of rangelands between droughtsand seldom can enough stock be kept over thedry season to damage wet-season pastures.

The migration and grazing patterns ofmobile pastoral herds are based on a strategy of maximum utilisation of rangelands withminimum depletion of the resources. There is aconstant feed-back mechanism between theanimals of pastoral herds and plants in the following manner:

ä during years with average rainfall, there is arelative balance between animals and plants;

ä in semi-arid and arid areas, the interactionbetween grazing animals and vegetationrarely comes to an equilibrium. If pasturesare overgrazed, the productivity of the herdsdeclines sharply and either the herd sizedecreases or the herds have to migrate toother areas. Seeds survive in the soil and,induced by the next rains, will germinateand start to grow again; and

ä pasture can be improved through moderate,controlled grazing, combined with the fertil-izing effect of animal manure.

Keeping small animals to sustain the household nutritionstatus and provide income

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It is important to see that overgrazing aswell as undergrazing can result in the growth ofwoody plants and unpalatable grasses, thusresulting in a reduction of the productivepotential of an area. Livestock production rep-resents a system of land management in mar-ginal areas that can maximise food productionwith minimal input.

Herds, particularly of sheep and goats,recover quickly after droughts, suggesting thatthere has been little long-term damage to therange. Also, in many parts of Africa, the num-ber of animals has continued to increase overmany decades despite claims of overgrazing.Increase in the size of herds would not havebeen possible, if the pastureland could not support this growth.

The old paradigm of the “tragedy of thecommons” has been replaced by the perceptionthat pastoral communities have developedefficient forms of communal rangelandmanagement.

The impact of grazing animals on theherbal layer, and therefore the carrying capacity,depends on various factors such as climate,structure of vegetation and other forms of landuse. Sub-humid areas are more susceptible toovergrazing than semi-arid areas. Also, perenni-al grasses, bushes and trees are much more susceptible to overgrazing than annual grasses.The temporary presence of a high density oflivestock will have detrimental effects on vege-tation, and inappropriate cropping patterns anduncontrolled fuelwood collection can reinforcethe impacts of overgrazing.

Consequently, figures on carrying capacityquoted in the relevant reference literatureshould be treated with caution. It had been esti-mated that, in arid areas with 200mm annualrainfall, the maximum stocking rate would bearound 7 TLU (Tropical Livestock Units) perkm2, i.e. 7 head of cattle or 70 goats (or 70sheep). The maximum stocking rate for semi-arid areas with 600mm annual rainfall would bearound 20 TLU per km2, i.e. 20 head of cattleor 200 goats (or 200 sheep).

31Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Carrying capacity of the camp is adetermining factor for livestock keeping

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3.8 Resource Competition

It is probably unavoidable that refugee- orreturnee-owned livestock will induce some ele-ment of resource competition with peoplealready living in that area. The main challengeis therefore how to minimise the level of com-petition and degradation.

Grasses, shrubs and other forms of vegeta-tion, as well as water are the main requirementsfor many livestock herds, including animalsbeing confined to pens or stalls. Preventing animals from damaging farmers’ crops, whileavoiding overgrazing or grazing in sensitive ecological areas is another important considera-tion. Competition with local wildlife might alsobe a limiting factor were the latter might formthe basis for some other form of local incomegeneration, e.g. through some form of eco-tourism.

Keeping livestock can easily influence therelationships between host and refugee/returneepopulations. On the one hand, competition forlimited livestock production resources (e.g.grazing and browse, water, and materials forconstructing pens) may lead to antagonismbetween communities while at the same timereciprocal arrangements and collaboration onproduction, trade and value-adding may devel-op constructive and lucrative partnerships andprovide a basis for positive relations betweencommunities. Each situation will likely be different but it is important that managersunderstand the dynamics underpinning suchsituations as this will influence the possibility ofrefugees and returnees keeping certain forms oflivestock.

32 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

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33Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Good Management inPractise – Some Optionsfor Improving Livestock


4.1 Introduction

Situations that force people to leave their homesand become refugees can have a variety ofserious impacts on their livestock herds, forexample:

ä animals may be slaughtered or sold in highnumbers by their owners (before or duringforced migration), or stolen by soldiers or bydesperate people in need of food;

ä if families are able to take their herds withthem when they flee to other regions, foddermight be insufficient or inappropriate. Theiranimals are likely to mix with other herds atwatering points and risk being exposed tolocal epidemic diseases to which they mayhave little resistance – while likewise expos-ing local animals to “imported” diseases; and

ä in case of rapid migration, refugees may haveto leave their animals behind (see Figure 1).Some family members may attempt toremain with their animals, but may move toanother area where herds may be concentrat-ed at places granting relative security, thusleading to similar ecological problems tothose caused by refugees migrating to othercountries.

A number of social problems can also ariseas a result of the dislocation of pastoral soci-eties. If households which are totally dependenton livestock production lose their animals, theybecome vulnerable. Conflicts between the pop-ulation in the host country and refugees canarise from competition for grazing areas andwater points, and from destruction of fieldscaused by movements of big herds.

The environmental and social risks associ-ated with refugee- or returnee-owned livestockshould be counterbalanced by the positiveeffects regarding food security, income genera-tion, provision of transport and fuel, fertiliza-tion of gardens and small fields, and the preparedness for durable solutions. If refugeesbelonging to pastoral groups are expected tohave a sustainable livelihood after repatriation,they will need animals – of a suitable type andbreed, to suit the peoples’ needs and the localconditions. Possible interventions are outlinedin Table 6 and discussed further below.

4.2 Livestock Production Systems

Livestock production systems vary enormously,even for the same type of animal. Variations inthese systems will depend on factors such as thelocal climate, the prevailing environmental conditions, water availability, land-use patterns,disease risks for that area, available capital, secu-rity and the risk of predation, the availability offodder, the animal breeds available, manage-ment skills, household needs, and more.Despite this complication, a few general systems can be identified within the currentcontext, as described below.

ä Scavenging and free-ranging animalsreflect low levels of management where live-stock contribute, but are incidental, to afamily’s subsistence or economy. This infersthat small numbers of animals – frequentlypoultry, pigs, sheep and goats – are released


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34 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Figure 1. Scenario/Impacts of Refugee Movements on Livestock Production Systems
























around the homestead and neighbouringarea to fend for themselves. These animalsmust commonly find their own food andwater and there is a high exposure to preda-tion, theft and disease. Health-care, diseaseand parasite control is infrequent, produc-tion costs are low, and production is poor.Other productive resources and activities,such as kitchen gardens and tree seedlings,can be damaged by animals kept under suchmethods.

ä Extensive management involves the move-ment of a large number of animals into larger areas of land for grazing and browsing.This practice commonly involves herding,watering and treating the animals to preventor control diseases, and is commonly associ-ated with keeping camels, cattle, goats andsheep. More effort is invested in this form ofmanagement as animals are supervised orherded for all or part of the time. Similarly,investment in inputs is likely to be higher

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35Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Interventions in SocialSystemsl Use of local knowledgel Grazing and herding contracts

l Traditional treatment

l Consideration of traditionalrules (e.g., grazing, wateringrights)

Provision of Technical Inputs

l Supplementation (fodder,concentrates, by-products)

l Treatment of strawl Urea-Molasses-Blocksl Pasture improvementl Vaccinationsl Prophylactic treatment

(acaricides, deworming)l Screening of zoonotic diseasesl Vaccination of animals (e.g.,

brucellosis, rabies)l Construction of small abattoirsl Construction of separate water

points for human consumptionand animals

l Restockingl Housing of animals

Management and Trainingl Flexible stocking l Securing mobility of herdsl Integration of crop and

livestock productionl Slvo-pastoralism

l Disease control strategiesl Community animal health

carel Careful management of

veterinary drugsl Training and extensionl Food inspectionl Water harvesting

l Breeding programmes

l Consideration of laws andregulations

Grazing Systems


Animal Health

Public Health

Drinking Water

Income Generation


Table 6. Possible Interventions that Support Good Livestock Management

with more knowledge required of the healthand behaviour of the livestock, and moreinputs being provided if finances allow, e.g.acarides to control external parasites, vac-cines, or antibiotics. Breeding is not usuallywell controlled, both in terms of season andthe selection of breeding animals.

ä Intensive management systems requiregreater inputs, more management skills anda more scientific approach to production.Breeding, feeding and health issues are considered and water availability and qualityis controlled. There are likely to be controlsover the environment under which the ani-mals are kept, e.g. purpose built housing.

Feeds may even be purpose grown and ani-mals grazed in situ or fodder brought back tohoused animals. Economic risks are higher,reflecting higher value, more productivestrains or breeds. Feeding costs, veterinarycosts and management costs are also likely tobe high, but the returns in terms ofyield/production and value are also substan-tially higher. Intensive systems can be adopt-ed for producing cattle, goats, pigs, poultryand rabbits.

ä Integrated management combines inten-sive/semi-intensive livestock productionsystems with other productive activities suchas crop production, or links a number of

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36 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

SystemKnowledge andskills required

Land and naturalresources required

Productivity andimpact on livelihoods


External inputs andcosts incurred

Implications forthe environment

Table 7. Some Implications of Different Animal Production Systems

Integrated managementHigh level of skills andknowledge in a numberof areas of animalproduction, e.g.agriculture

High reliance on localresources, using,adapting and recyclingwhat is available. Highcommitment to healthand generalmanagement throughbiological systemsHigh productivitypossible; can also behighly sustainableHigh effort duringestablishment. Stableproduction possible forminimal sustainedeffort, once establishedLow reliance on externalinputs

Low risk systems thatminimise impacts on theenvironment andenhance animalproduction. Animalwelfare andenvironmentalconsiderations areusually high priorities

Extensive managementModest skills needed

High reliance on localnatural resources suchas grasslands andshrubs, with anassociated need to coverrelatively large areas

Modest productivity, butvulnerable to seasonalvariationsPossibly high in termsof labour


High risks ofdegradation in localarea from tramplingand/or overgrazing,leading to habitatdestruction, soil erosion,and pollution of waterresources

Intensive managementHigh need for relevantskills and knowledge ina limited number ofareas (e.g. animalhealth, feeds andfeeding)Usually requiressupplements and highquality feeds (grownlocally or brought in)plus a need for animalhealth products due toincreased exposure toparasitesHigh productivity, butalso high costs and risks

High sustained labourand skill needed, withsome effort being offsetby the use of externalinputsHeavy and continuingreliance on externalinputs, making this ahigh cost optionvulnerable tofluctuations in theavailability and priceof resourcesHigh risk of pollutionand contamination fromconcentrations ofdroppings, and disposalof veterinary products

Scavenging and free-rangingBasic skills

Limited requirements forresources as animalsrely on waste materialsand available vegetation

Low productivity



High risks in terms ofhuman andenvironmental health,with animalstransmitting disease andparasites

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37Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

different livestock-keeping activities withone another. Integrated managementapproaches reduce costs – when comparedwith intensive systems – by producing orsupplementing animal feeds, controllingpests and disease, with reduced reliance onexternal resources, while aiming for highproduction.

To help determine which broad type ofproduction system might best suit a particularsituation, an analysis of the relative advantagesand disadvantages of these various productionsystems is shown in Table 7.

In addition to the animals themselves, live-stock production requires a range of inputs,including equipment for handling and treatinganimals, medicines (both traditional and proprietary), and equipment for storing or han-dling products – milk containers and hygieniccontainers for transporting meat. In turn, medicines must be kept in secure hygienic con-tainers to reduce extremes of temperature andcontamination. Veterinary equipment similarlyrequires cleaning and sterilising, and storage inclean, secure containers.

Provision of these items need not be expen-sive, but there are likely to be costs and logisti-cal issues involved in ensuring that they areavailable. Their safe and efficient use is essentialif they are to serve their purpose for the periodfor which they were designed. Loss or damageof such items, and the capacity of users toreplace them may impact animal health and welfare, and the economy and health oflivestock owners.

4.3 Grazing Strategies that Matchthe Carrying Capacity

Well considered and respected grazing strategiesare one of the key elements of successful livestock management in any situation, but of

particular importance in the refugee andreturnee contexts where different communitiesare essentially vying for what are often scarcenatural resources. Discussions with local com-munity leaders in particular should reveal anumber of options in relation to where andwhen animals might be grazed, which shouldhelp with decision making and monitoring.Key considerations (see also Table 7) to bear inmind are the following:

Mobility of herds. The effects of localovergrazing can be mitigated if pastoral groupsare permitted to move their herds. Whether thisis a feasible option or not depends on a range offactors, including the prevailing environmentalconditions, population density, local tenurerights, land-use patterns and the granting of permission by the local and national hostgovernment authorities.

Flexible stocking. Rotational grazing andthe introduction of mixed livestock herds areappropriate options for savannah managementin semi-arid areas. The four important rumi-nant species raised in pastoral herds – cattle,sheep, goats and camels – have different grazingpatterns. Cattle, including yaks and buffalo,and sheep are grazers and mainly feed fromground level vegetation. Camels and goats arebrowsers, are more selective feeders and prefervegetation from shrubs, bushes and trees. Thus,as a consequence of their different grazing patterns, mixed livestock herds have potentialfor a higher productivity per hectare of a givenarea. For example, the carrying capacity ofrangelands is higher when a herd is mixed ofsheep and goats than when consisting of one ofthese species alone.

Local knowledge. Traditional systemsused by local pastoral groups to evaluate thecarrying capacity of rangelands are based onsubjective monitoring of environmental indica-tors such as plant composition, quantity andquality of forage, degradation of the rangeland,

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and the behaviour of wildlife. Interventionssuch as the development of grazing strategies,pasture improvement, or water harvesting projects should draw on this local knowledge.

Grazing contracts. If the vegetation coverallows for a temporary increase of animal num-bers, the local population and local authoritieshave to be consulted on the proposed use of therangeland. Grazing contracts may then have tobe negotiated – either directly by concernedrefugees or sometimes through an intermediary– frequently an implementing partner acting onbehalf of refugees. On such occasions, it may behelpful to offer the local community somethingin exchange for the granting of grazing rights torefugee livestock, for example, help in theinstallation of new watering points.

Herding contracts. Refugee animals canbe temporarily combined with local herds on

the basis of herding contracts. In exchange forthe herding service, local herders may receivepayment in kind, e.g. the right to use the milkor a certain share of the off-take of the herd fortheir own purposes. This strategy – which canalso provide employment for refugees as herders– has the advantage that refugees can get theirherds back when being repatriated. It is anoption, however, which is likely to work only inthose situations where the local population andthe refugees consist of the same or affiliated eth-nic group.

An additional strategy worth considering –perhaps in association with a more integratedmixed farming system or practice (see Section4.4) – is to respect and encourage the use of fallow. Fallow resembles a form of shifting cultivation where the location of crops (includ-ing grasses) is changed every couple of years,but where land is also set aside to recover from

38 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Large herds of cattle should be grazed away from the camp in authorised areas

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39Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Emergency Phasel grazing and herding contractsl use of local knowledgel sale of animalsl designation of grazing areas

l contracts/negotiations with localpopulation

l designation of grazing areasl fencingl designation of grazing areasl designation of grazing areasl designation of grazing areasl limitation of animal numbers

l food aidl designation of grazing areas

l contracts/negotiations with localpopulation

l designation of grazing areasl separation of water points for humans

and animalsl limitation of animal husbandry in


l employment of local veterinarypersonnel

l limitation of animal husbandry insettlements

l control of animal movementl designation of holding groundsl emergency vaccination campaigns

Care and Maintenance Phasel flexible/rotational grazingl pasture improvementl provision of feeding (supplementary

feeding, straw, hay, by-products)l fodder banks

l live fencingl designation of grazing areas

l designation of grazing areasl provision of water sources in distant

grazing areas l construction of bore holes and wellsl water harvestingl fishing contractsl designation of grazing areas

l contracts/negotiations with localpopulation

l designation of grazing areas

l construction of small abattoirs anddumping sites

l training and extension

l training and extensionl screening/testing of animalsl vaccination l improved veterinary diagnosisl training and extensionl community animal health carel improvement of animal health services l vaccination, prophylactic treatment

Deterioration of plant cover/ overgrazing

Destruction of fields

Cutting of bushes and trees Destruction of seedlings

Reduction of biodiversity Depletion of water resources

OverfishingDisruption of traditional livestockproduction patternsCompetition for rangelands

Water pollution

Air pollution

Slaughtering wastes

Health hazards caused by uncontrolled useof veterinary drugsTransmission of diseases from animals tohumans

Increased disease prevalence of livestockdiseases

Table 8. Mitigation of Negative Environmental Impacts of Refugee Livestock during Emergencies and the Care andMaintenance Phase

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growing crops. Many traditional fallow systemsare of 10 years’ duration, but increasingly fallowperiods have become shorter and have even dis-appeared in many regions due to increasedcompetition for land. In terms of livestockmanagement, it is important that fallow areasare respected and either zero grazing takes place,or a selective light browsing might be allowed,the added benefit of this being the irregularaddition of animal manure to the soil. Some fal-low areas may also be deliberately planted withcrops such as grass or legumes in a bid to regen-erate the soil more quickly. Grasses or legumesfrom such schemes are then used as animalfodder.

4.4 Supplementary Feeding andPasture Improvement

In the emergency phase of refugee situations,provision of livestock feed is likely to be limitedbecause of the need to ensure adequate protec-tion nutrition, shelter, water and health care forpeople. In the care and maintenance phase,however, supplementary feeding could beimplemented – either in isolation or in connec-tion with a micro-credit programme or loan forother agricultural inputs such as seeds or tools.Depending on the economic situation of therefugees, free provision of animal feed might be

a first step in a programme to support self-reliance.

Provision of fodder. Providing fodder forrefugee livestock can relieve pressure on the surrounding rangeland and can reduce compe-tition for natural resources with local livestockproducers. Animals fed with supplements willbe satisfied with lower quality rangeland, there-by preventing the most palatable species frombeing overgrazed. The supply of feed, however,is very costly and is only feasible if materials arelocally available. Care must be taken to ensurethat any fodder that is collected for such a purpose is not having a negative environmentalor social impact at the place(s) where it is beinggathered.

By-products from agricultural produc-tion. In many tropical countries, the main con-stituents of livestock feed or suitable substitutesare usually available. These include the basicenergy components such as grains, tubers andmolasses; protein surrogates such as pulses, oilcakes, fish or meat meal; and fibrous compo-nents such as cereals or sugar cane by-products.Mineral supplements can be produced frombone meal. A broad range of wastes from agricultural production has been identified asbeing suitable for animal nutrition. Theseinclude coffee or cocoa pulp, groundnut shells,bananas, pineapple pulp, rice husks, cassavaleaves and many others. By-products from live-stock and fish industries (slaughterhousewastes, sterilised poultry litter, fish and shrimpwastes) can be used to feed ruminants. A com-prehensive investigation of the local availabilityof agricultural residues and by-products isadvised to assess the potential for improvinganimal feeding under emergency, as well as dur-ing care and maintenance, situations.

Straw, hay and silage. Green fodder –fresh cut grass, hay or silage – and straw are valu-able animal feeds, but bear high transport costsand often require storage space and shelter.

40 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Animal feeds for zero grazing

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While fresh or dried grasses require little supple-menting, the nutritional value of straw for rumi-nants is low and normally not adequate to meetan animal’s energy requirements. The value ofstraw for ruminant nutrition can, however, beupgraded through physical and chemical treat-ment (see Box 6). Physical treatment includescutting, chopping and grinding. Simple chaff-cutting machines can be fabricated by localblacksmiths. Chemical treatment based on urea,ammonium or sodium-hydroxide can increasean animal’s digestibility of straw and resultingenergy intake by up to 100 per cent.

Integrated crop, tree and livestock pro-duction. Nutrient recycling is an essential com-ponent of any farming system. Animals can beherded on harvested fields to use crop residuessuch as cereal straws, dried stalks of maize andsorghum, and groundnut tops. The cultivation offodder trees has various beneficial effects on theenvironment. Legumes are a good source of pro-tein and they contribute to the enrichment ofsoils through nitrogen fixation. Thorn bushes canbe planted as living fences for enclosures, but intime will also produce fodder, shelter and a pos-sible source of fuelwood and building materials.

Urea-Molasses-Mineral-Blocks. In coun-tries with sugar processing industries, the pro-duction of urea-molasses mineral blocks(UMMB) could be considered as a feeding sup-plement. These blocks provide energy and pro-tein for animals grazing on poor pasture, whilethe production and sale of UMMB blocks canalso enhance income generation among thelocal population. The cost of UMMB produc-tion depends largely on the availability of theconstituents, and on labour costs. The produc-tion costs of UMMB in Africa can be estimatedat US$100–150 per tonne. This figure excludesthe equipment required for blending whichconsists of cement mixers, moulds (which couldbe fabricated locally), and shovels. Further costsarise for transport of the blocks. An example forthe composition of UMMB is given in Table 9.

41Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Box 6i

Treatment Of Straw

A wide range of straw feeding methods exists,ranging from selective consumption, choppingand soaking of straw, breeding or managementfor better or more straw, or the use of adjustedcropping patterns and types of animals. Arange of treatment methods is available toincrease digestibility and/or intake of straw.Simple methods include chopping or soaking ofstraw – more complicated ones involve steamtreatment.

The most practical approach is based on the useof urea. Urea can be sprayed over the straw in aratio of 2 per cent with a 1:1 water:straw ratio,a form of catalytic supplementation. Morerelevant is the treatment of straw with ureawhere 4kg of urea are spread with 50–100l ofwater on 100kg of straw. The mix is kept in aheap for one to three weeks after which it canbe used as feed with or without concentratesupplements. The treatment process increasesthe availability of energy from the fibres in thestraw, apart from providing nitrogen for betterrumen function. Experience suggests that thetechnology is most likely to work in thefollowing situations:n when plenty of dry straw is available, free

from fungal contamination; n when farmers have slender straws from rice,

wheat and barley rather than coarse strawsfrom maize, sorghum or millets;

n when straw is cheap compared to other feedsand where there is a shortage of grasses orother green feed;

n when water is freely and convenientlyavailable;

n when the price of urea is not prohibitive andwhere the cost of polythene coveringmaterials is low;

n when labour availability is good, though smallstacks do not require such high labour inputsat one time as the large stacks;

n when the animals are medium producers(milk or meat); and

n when produce such as milk can be sold at aremunerative price.

Based on FAO, 1988; Singh and Schiere, 1995.

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42 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Pasture improvement. In cases of severedegradation, oversowing of rangeland can beemployed for emergency relief. This option is ofspecial consideration in countries, where seedproducing plants exist, but could also encom-pass the introduction of exotic species of peren-nial grasses and legumes. Improvement ofrangeland in emergency situations is only possi-ble if sufficient rainfall supports this operation.If large areas are considered, oversowing mustbe carried out by airplane.

The introduction of legumes into existinggrassland and fallow areas can provide a low-coststimulus for improvement of livestock produc-tion in degraded areas. A range of legumespecies can be established simply by broadcast-ing on the surface of the soil without cultivationand fertilizer and without the need for subse-quent grazing management. Some of thesespecies are adapted to heavy grazing, and willspread rapidly. However, experience in the intro-duction of these legumes in the respective coun-try should be evaluated to estimate returns.

Animal manure is generally an excellentadditive to the soil, helping it maintain structure and replenishing essential nutrients

which are constantly being removed by vegeta-tion. Dung and urine contain several nutrientssuch as nitrogen (essential for growth), phos-phorous (needed for the plants to flower, bearfruit and develop strong root systems) andpotassium (important for tuber and fruitenlargement, as well as helping maintainhealthy plant tissues).

The amount and quality of urine and dungproduced depends on the type of animal, its sizeand the type of feed, as well as the way the ani-mal(s) is managed by the farmer. According toDefoer et al. (2000), one way to calculate theamount of manure produced is on the follow-ing basis:

ä one animal of 250kg live weight has a feedintake that averages 2.5 per cent dry matterof its live weight. It therefore consumes250x365x0.025 = 2,280kg of dry matter.With an average digestibility of 55 per cent,the animal will produce 0.45x2 280 =1,026kg of dung every year;

ä small ruminants weighing 25kg and feeding3.2 per cent daily on average of their liveweight, consume 25x365x0.032 = 292kgdry matter. If their average digestibility ofthe feed is estimated at 60 per cent it can becalculated that one small ruminant producessome 117kg of dry matter faeces per annum.

The nutrient content of manure and otherorganic fertilizers varies according to the quali-ty of feed and the way it is stored and handled.Table 10 gives an indication of the concentra-tion of the main nutrients in the manure of cat-tle and small ruminants and other sources oforganic fertilizer. Dry matter content of manurealso varies widely: in cows on lush pasture it canbe less than 15 per cent but in sheep on dry forage it can be higher than 50 per cent.


MolassesWheat branUreaCementSaltFeed lime (CaCo3)Monocalcium phosphateCopper sulfateZinc sulfate

Table 9. Composition of Molasses-Urea Mineral Blocks

Constituents Composition (%)

Source: FAO Technical Cooperation Programme with Swaziland,TCP/SWA/2251

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4.5 Mixed Livestock-Crop Systems

4.5.1 What Is Mixed Farming?

Many farmers in tropical and temperate coun-tries survive by managing a mix of differentcrops and/or animals. A simple form of mixedfarming is when crop residues are used to feedthe animals and the excreta from the animalsare then used as nutrients for the crops. Otherforms take place where grazing under fruit-treeskeeps the grass short, or where manure frompigs is used as a nutrient additive for fish ponds.

Traditionally, a wide variety of mixed farm-ing systems has been used worldwide. Theessence of many modern organic farming systems, including permaculture, lies in themixing of crops and animals. These systems areessential for the livelihood of farmers and forthe production of food and other commoditiesfor the cities and export markets. Even manyhighly specialised crop and livestock systems indeveloped and developing countries are redis-covering the advantages of mixed farming.

Many forms of mixed farming exists can beidentified, depending on factors such as weather

patterns, market prices, political stability, technological developments, local soil charac-teristics, the composition of a family or com-munity, and a farmer’s ingenuity. At one level,pastoralists can be said to practise a form ofmixed farming since their livelihood dependson the management of different feed resourcesand animal species, while at the other extreme,different farmers might work together eachwith their own specialisation, for example, pro-ducing vegetables for human consumption,growing fodder materials for livestock, provid-ing livestock manure for crops, and so on, allco-ordinated in a farm-based mixed system.Other forms of mixed farming include the cul-tivation of different crops on the same field,such as millet and cowpea or millet andsorghum, or even several varieties of the samecrop with different life cycles – using spacemore efficiently and spreading risks more uni-formly.

Mixed livestock-crop systems need not becomplicated and have many potential applica-tions in a refugee or returnee context as theintegration of cropping and livestock is a systemwhich optimises the use of resources. Small-scale poultry keeping, e.g. ducks, can help keep

43Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Source: Based on a compilation by Defoer et al (2000).

Nitrogen (N)




Phosphorous (P)





Potassium (K)





Dry matter



Organic fertilizer

CattleFresh manureKraal (litter)Kraal (no litter)

Goats and sheepFresh manure

OtherFresh green manureCompostHousehold wasteAsh from cooking

Table 10. Nutrient Content of Manure and other Organic Fertilizers (percentage)

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44 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

down many water-related parasitesand crop pests, a simple practicethat goes hand in hand withvegetable production, avoidingthe need for costly and oftendamaging chemical controls.Such simple practices cantherefore help sustainlivelihoods through grow-ing fresh crops and keepingsmall livestock, by pro-viding income for house-holds from the sale of produce(e.g. eggs and vegetables) and by represent-ing a form of financial security for many displaced persons. Many livestock by-products,for example manure, are also of value as a formof fertilizer as well as fuel for cooking.

4.5.2 Benefits of Mixed Farming

The integration of crops and livestock-keepingis widely considered as a positive step towardssustainable agricultural production, mainly onaccount of the associated intensified organicmatter and nutrient cycling. Residues from dif-ferent crops can represent a major on-farmsource of organic matter and nutrients. Thiscombines well with the presence of livestocksince animals play a vital role as capital assets forsecurity and as a means of saving, for cashincome and in nutrient flows. Management ofcrop residues is therefore often closely related totheir use in animal feeding. Competition forcertain residues – for example corn stalks – canarise during certain phases of refugee operationsif fuel is scarce.

4.6 Identification of SuitableBreeds

Animals serve numerous functions, from providing products such as meat, milk, eggs,wool and hides to acting as a form of savings. Inmost refugee-related situations, most attention

tends to be given to cattle, camels, sheep, goats,pigs, donkeys and poultry, but others such asbuffalo, horses, guinea fowl, ducks, bees, rabbits and pigeons can also adapt to many con-ditions. Often these “less conventional” animalspecies consist of small animals that have theadvantage of fast reproduction, i.e. a herd orflock of these species is quickly replaced after acalamity such as drought, a flood or disease out-break. Keeping such species therefore often rep-resents an important livelihood strategy formany households. Cattle are often one of thefirst species to succumb to drought. After sucha event, the restoration of herds commonlystarts with the small ruminants, because theirreproductive cycle is short and their numberscan increase rapidly. Goats and/or sheep arethen sold to re-obtain cattle from elsewhere.

More detailed coverage is given to specifictypes of livestock in Annex I, but a few additional considerations are worth highlight-ing in the present context as options forimproving livestock systems.

Mixed farming

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4.6.1 Dairy Animals

Milk is an important product from many ani-mals commonly kept in refugee and returneesituations, but not the only one. Often, howev-er, the quality of available foodstuff does notallow high production levels, although the mostcommonly kept species can consume coarsefeeds like straws, grasses and tree leaves Goatsand sheep have different grazing behaviour thancattle and buffaloes, and a mix of these animalscan serve to use the variation of feed on andaround the farm better. Cattle and buffaloesalso come in a variety of sizes and with differentcharacteristics. Important factors to bear inmind are that it is the bodyweight, orientationto milk production and tolerance to diseasesthat determines a particular species’ suitabilityto a particular situation.

Different levels of milk production aregiven in Table 11. These levels are determinedby body size, genetic background, farm man-agement, health, feeding level, etc. An animalof 600kg that is well fed and that belongs to alarge breed can easily produce twice as muchmilk and meat as a small animal of200–300kg, simply because ofthe difference in body size.Goats and sheep producemuch less milk andmeat per animal thancattle but they alsoeat less so, roughlyspeaking, one cansay that the produc-tion per kilogrammeof feed is quite simi-lar for small andlarge animals. Localtradition also deter-mines the choicefor a particulardairy breedbased on the

shape of the horns, the colour of the skin, thefat content of the milk (higher in buffaloes thanin cows), the colour of the butterfat (from darkyellow to pure white), etc. Some types of milkare even believed to have special medicinalvalue, e.g. goat milk is generally thought to begood for asthma patients, and the finer distri-bution of the fat in goat milk makes it easier todigest.



Number ofdays oflactation50–10050–150


Animal typeSmall tropical goatsCommercial goatsSmall tropical cowsLarge western cows

Table 11. Milk production of tropical and commercialgoats and tropical and western cows

45Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Cow producing milk for the family

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4.6.2 Animals for Draught and Transport

A wide variety of work animals exists, includingcattle, buffaloes, donkeys, mules, horses, camelsand elephants. They provide the means bywhich millions of families worldwide make aliving, but there are also other reasons for keep-ing draught animals. They can, for example,intensify agricultural production, provide acheap form of transportation, help in water lift-ing for irrigation, as well as with milling grainsand pulses.

4.6.3 Goats and Sheep

The largest concentrations of goats and sheepare found in Africa and on the Indian subconti-nent but every continent has its own speciesand subspecies. Some are more suitable formeat, others for milk production, but goats andsheep in mixed systems are multipurpose ani-mals. They produce meat, milk, offspring, skinand hair; they serve as a savings account andthey provide readily available money whenneeded.

One of the main concerns with keepinggoats in particular is their reputation of causing

soil degradation and erosion. In reality, howev-er, it is not their feeding behaviour per se that isnecessarily damaging, but the fact that they arecommonly left to graze untended and often insizeable numbers. Goats are browsers and preferwoody species and they normally find sufficientfeed in 4–5 hours grazing time, unlike cattlewhich need double this time to satisfy theirfeeding needs. They are not selective eaters andare able to convert low-quality feeds, includinghousehold wastes, paper and cardboard boxes.Related to their body size, they produce muchmore milk than cows, and they have a higherreproduction rate than cows and than manybreeds of sheep. Goat’s milk is an importantprotein source for human nutrition and can besold fresh or soured in refugee camps or at localmarkets. In many countries the meat of goats ishighly valued.

Their small size and relatively low individ-ual values bring goats and sheep within thecapacity of low-income farmers, as well as manyrefugees and returnees. In many camps and set-tlements it is not uncommon for women andyoung adults to own goats, whereas cattle arealmost exclusively owned by men.

46 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Goat and sheep grazedaway from the camp

Nomads with camels used for transport, source offood and sometimes cultivation

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4.6.4 Poultry

The term “poultry” refers to birds, a class of ani-mals that produce eggs, meat, dung and feath-ers. It includes a variety of species such as ducks,geese, chickens, song birds, fighting cocks andturkeys. Poultry often provide a living for anindividual or family by scavenging or by grazingon harvested rice fields. Among the particularbenefits of these animals in a refugee orreturnee setting is that they are small, theyreproduce easily, they do not need large invest-ments and they thrive on kitchen waste, brokengrains, worms, snails or insects. A flock of scav-enging birds uses almost no inputs and it canstill make a positive contribution to householdwelfare.

A limited number of chickens can be raisednearly anywhere. If competition is low, they canpick up their food from the ground.Additionally, they can be fed with agriculturalby-products such as grain husks and bran. Thesale of eggs and birds for slaughter can be aviable option for income generation, particular-ly for durable situations. Improved breeds ofchicken, and other birds such as ducks, geese,and guinea fowls can be introduced, if appro-priate feeds are available.

In an effort to encourage self-sufficiency(particularly during the care and maintenancephase) small poultry farms can be establishedon a co-operative basis, e.g. a small group ofwomen would share responsibility for the birds.

A necessary pre-condition for such projects isthat simple housing materials and a parentstock of about 20 to 50 females and one or twococks are provided. All animals must be vacci-nated against Newcastle disease. The need forvaccination against other poultry diseases (e.g.gumboro, fowl pox, Marek’s disease) dependson the prevalence of these diseases in the area,which can be assessed by local veterinarians.

Small poultry farms are only viable if thefeeding of the birds can be secured. For low-performing birds, feeds can be mixed from agri-cultural residues and by-products. Feeds have tocontain at least one energy component (grainsor residues from milling) and one protein com-ponent (e.g. oil seeds or fish meal).

4.6.5 Freshwater Fish

Integration of aquaculture with a farming sys-tem provides a means to increase the output ofagriculture and to increase efficiency ofresource utilisation. In South-east Asia, thecombination of fish raising in paddy rice fieldsor fish ponds in connection with ducks, chick-en, pigs and goats is a well developed andadapted technology. The fish are able to feeddirectly on the manure and the feed residues oron micro-organisms. The animals can either beraised in cages directly on the ponds, or theirmanure can be transferred into the ponds,together with kitchen garbage and weeds fromvegetable gardens. Fish can also be integratedinto irrigation schemes, so that fields are fertil-ized directly or indirectly through feed residuesand the manure of the fish.

Many species are suitable for this purpose,one of the most versatile being the Nile tilapia,a freshwater fish from Africa. This species, nowalso found in Asia and Latina America as aresult of deliberate introductions, is very pro-ductive (its generation interval is just 4–6months) and thrives on agricultural wastes,making it inexpensive to grow. It has been

47Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Chicken and ducks for incomegeneration and food

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dubbed “the aquatic chicken”, because it can begrown in a variety of situations from backyardsto intensive “battery” farms.

Although aquaculture has not been widelypractised or promoted in refuge or returneeoperations, there is considerable potential andbenefit to be had from this simple activity.Freshwater fish, a rich source of protein andoils, are generally widely sought after and canbe either sold fresh, sun dried or smoked forlonger preservation.

4.6.6 Unconventional Livestock Species

A broad range of so-called unconventional livestock species can contribute to the improve-ment of human nutrition or can provideincome opportunities. The spectrum includesrabbits, cane cutters (agouti), guinea pigs,snails, bees, silk worms and many others.Introduction of such species, however, has totake account of cultural habits, infrastructurefor marketing and feed availability.

4.7 Encouraging Self-SufficiencyPractices Through ImprovedLivestock Production

Enhancing an individual or family’s well-beingand livelihood security potential is one of themain reasons for keeping livestock in a refugeeand returnee context (see also Box 7). Onemeans of influencing livestock managementsystems – the choice(s) of animals kept, forexample – is to examine formal and informalopportunities for marketing animal products orfor direct sale or exchange of livestock. Vibrantmarkets are often associated with refugee campsand settlements once the emergency phase haspassed. Livestock are often traded openly andactively at such events between refugees,returnees and local populations, so opportuni-ties for income generation and improved self-sufficiency are quite realistic.

48 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Beekeeping providescommunities with asource of honey aswell as a pollinatorfor crops

Box 7i

Mixing Livestock

By keeping several species, small- and large-scale farmers can exploit a wider range of feedresources than if only one species is kept. Inpastoral areas, camels can graze up to 50kmaway from watering points, whereas cattle arelimited to a grazing orbit of around 10–15km.Camels and goats tend to browse more on theleaves of shrubs and trees, while sheep andcattle generally prefer grasses and herbs. Thisway also, livestock-keepers benefit from abroader range of products – camels and cattlecan provide milk, transport and draught power,whereas goats and sheep tend to beslaughtered more often for meat, and chickensare commonly sold for small change for thehousehold.

Keeping more than one species of livestock isalso a risk-minimising strategy. An outbreak ofdisease may affect only one species, so that afamily does not risk loosing all of its assets atonce. Advantage can also be taken of thedifferent reproductive rates of different speciesto rebuild livestock holdings after a drought.

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4.7.1 Income Generation through SmallAnimal Keeping

Small animal production can provide incomeopportunities and self-sufficiency, particularlyfor women – a strategy which should beencouraged widely as long as necessary precau-tions and considerations are taken with respectto possible environmental degradation. As partof their personal or family security strategy,

women in particular invest in small ruminantsuntil sufficient assets have been acquired toconvert this into the purchase of, e.g. a milkcow which, in the longer term, should providehigher benefits to the owner.

The main constraint even for small animalraising within camps or settlements, however,may prove to be a lack of feed. Indigenousbreeds of chicken, pigs and goats can scavengeon scarce resources, as long as the overall num-ber of animals is kept low. Pigs can live onresidues from human nutrition, and local chick-ens normally find enough food when roamingaround. The introduction of improved breeds

and higher animal densities, however, can onlybe realised if fodder is provided to the animals.This will need to be purchased or collectedlocally by the refugees.

Significant income levels can also be gener-ated through the processing and sale of animalproducts, a range of which is described inAnnex IV.

4.7.2 Breeds and Breeding

As with feeding and space restrictions, thechoice of animals is also an important consider-ation, which will vary from a rural to urban set-ting (see also Section 5.4). In general, localbreeds are more adapted to endemic diseases,climate and feed resources. On the other hand,their performance is often low. Breed improve-ment of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultrycan be considered, if the necessary infrastruc-ture, i.e. appropriate livestock services, is avail-able. The economic viability of introducingimproved breeds depends on the competitivecost/benefit ratio, which is related to feed costsand to producer prices for livestock and livestock products. If the situation allows breedimprovement, breeding centres should be estab-lished. These can produce cross-breeds and dis-tribute them to farmers. Breeding programmes,however, should be accompanied by monitor-ing systems which compare mortality rates, production progress and cost/benefit ratio oflocal and improved breeds.

49Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

Income through small animal keeping

Pigs for small scaleanimal production

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4.7.3 Livestock Husbandry in Towns

Keeping animals in towns is common in manydeveloping countries and UNHCR has in thepast assisted with the establishment of intensivepoultry raising, for example, through micro-credit assistance. Most intra-urban farms andthe small-scale peri-urban farms in the vicinityof settlements concentrate on subsistence production by providing animal protein for thefamily. In addition, these small-scale farms generate income through the sale of products tolocal markets, through the provision of services(e.g. transport), and of animal manure forcrops.

While many opportunities exist for urbanlivestock production, the accompanying prob-lems should not be overlooked. The transmis-sion of disease from animal to animal and fromanimals to humans, as well as the difficulty ofcontrolling production hygiene standards, areamong the main reasons, why municipaladministrations try to ban livestock from theirtowns. Most legislative actions to expel animalsfrom towns have failed, and urban livestockproduction is growing at a steady rate. Banninglivestock production from towns, however,would deprive the poor and mainly landlessfamilies, including refugees, of income oppor-tunities and would worsen the quality of theirdiet.

4.8 Re-Stocking Programmes

Re-stocking is an option to consider forimproving refugee livelihood during the careand maintenance phase and in preparation forrepatriation. The main objective of such programmes is to take animals from areas withrelatively large livestock numbers and distributethem to refugees who have lost their herds, so asto enable them to regain a measure of self-suffi-ciency. To date, most of these programmes havebeen carried out by NGOs on a small-scale,

sometimes supported by UNHCR. Advanceplanning here, however, could prove veryimportant (see Box 8). Typically after a droughtor when refugees are being repatriated, thedemand for breeding female livestock is highand, in consequence, so is the price. This canput the option of an individual or family pur-chasing livestock out of the question, unlessUNHCR or its partners can intervene or haveearlier intervened to fix a price with traders. Ifpossible, animals should be purchased only atlocal markets, or in nearby regions, to avoid anyhealth risks due to deficient resistance. Only in a limited number of cases, when feed is

50 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Box 8i

Donkeys and the Provision of Livestockto Returnees

Livestock are an essential feature of Eritrea’srural economy and food production systems.These systems vary from crop-based highlandfarming which is reliant on oxen for ploughingto lowland pastoralism involving mixed herds ofcamels, cattle, small ruminants and donkeys.

As part of the Programme for Refugee Re-integration and Rehabilitation of ResettlementAreas in Eritrea, returnees from eastern Sudanwere to have been provided with a livestockpackage – free to each household – comprisingdifferent species of livestock. All returneehouseholds were interviewed in order todetermine their preferences for different typesof livestock – the budget for each family was setat US$420, allowing people to select more thanone type of animal. Sheep (92 per cent ofhouseholds), goats (90 per cent) and donkeys(61 per cent) were by far the most populartypes of animals: preferences of female andmale-headed families were similar. Interestingly,however, personal interviews revealed quitedistinct preferences for donkeys, in almost totalcontrast to species identified in the originalproject plan, showing again the importance ofadequate stakeholder involvement in decisionssuch as this.

Source: Catley, A. and Blakeway, S. Donkeys and theProvision of Livestock to Returnees: Lessons from Eritrea. In:Donkeys, People and Development, Starkey, P. andFielding, D. (Eds). ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agriculturaland Rural Co-operation, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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available and the pressure from livestock diseases or climatic conditions is moderate,should the option of stimulating herd growth,through the introduction of exotic breeds, beconsidered.

Donation of transport/work animals maybecome critical in situations where displacedpeople are supposed to return home by footover long distances. Depending on the situa-tion, it has to be decided whether animalsshould be given out for free, or sold either atsubsidised or market prices. To stimulate cropproduction, the supply of draught animals,such as oxen, buffalo, donkeys or camels couldbe a priority consideration.

Re-stocking operations are costly and onlya relatively small number of families can nor-mally be included in the programmes. If onlypart of a community can be supplied, a revolv-ing animal pool might be created as a livestockbank. Key families would receive a small num-ber of animals, e.g. two pregnant cows, or fivesheep or goats. They would be obliged to handover part of their offspring, e.g. one calf or twosheep (or two goats) per year to other families.Such an operation could be combined with abreeding programme. A small breeding stationkeeping one bull and five to ten cows or fiverams/bucks with 20 female sheep or goats couldbe established. Through a well managed breed-ing programme, local breeds could then also be

upgraded through cross-breeding with exoticanimals. To be successful, however, breedinggoals must be defined taking a broad range ofenvironmental conditions (including seasonalchanges), feed availability and prevalence of diseases into consideration. Since most coun-tries have experience with improvement of localbreeds, advice on breeding programmes canprobably be obtained from national researchand extension services.

The number of animals that could/shouldbe given to a family is difficult to determine.Because of budgetary constraints, in most casesonly the minimum requirements can be ful-filled. If too few animals are given, the donationscheme is not viable as many of these familieswill not achieve self-sufficiency and must con-tinue to be supported over the long-term. Onthe other hand, if families are given too manyanimals, then the intervention is not cost-effec-tive, because fewer families can be providedwith livestock and an imbalance is created.

If households that received supportthrough a re-stocking programme also receivesome food aid, their economic viability isimproved because they have to sell less stock tobuy other commodities, hence they can buildup their stock themselves. Experience hasshown that pastoral families, restocked with 30 goats each, still depended on other forms ofincome for years afterwards.

51Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

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52 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

From Theory to Practice

5.1 Assessing the Needs andOptions

There are considerable differences betweenhelping refugees keep small numbers of poultrywithin or around their compounds, and sup-porting the development and maintenance oflarge herds of cattle or developing intensivechicken units. The level of analysis carried outin assessing available or possible options shouldtherefore take into account a number of issues,including the experience of those interested inkeeping livestock, their needs, the scale of theinitiative and the anticipated potential for envi-ronmental impact. To help assess what is need-ed and what options might be availed it willhelp to:

ä identify and interpret what, if any, rules andrights apply to keeping livestock in the givensituation;

ä identify and engage with stakeholders at alllevels, especially to determine more abouttheir experience, to identify availableresources that would support livestock-keep-ing, and the needs/preferences of these peo-ple;

ä assess the prevailing characteristics of thearea – the environmental and socio-econom-ic factors that might influence decisions concerning types and number of livestockwhich might be supported; and

ä review and assimilate information to developan overall profile of the situation.

Recommendations on what action(s) to takeshould then be shared openly with all stake-holders.

Preparedness planning and policy levelwork should aim to provide an environmentthat supports and encourages various levels oflivestock production among refugee/returneeand hosting populations. However, wheresmall-stock, including poultry, rabbits or pigs,are kept within the confines of a refugee campor settlement, it is unlikely that a host govern-ment, the host community or agencies willexpress particular interest or actively imposerestrictions. The keeping of larger animals, particularly those that need space and naturalresources beyond the immediate limits of acamp is, however, more visible and has a greaterimpact. This is more likely to meet with theinterest and concerns of authorities and locals.

5.1.1 Clarify Rules and Rights

In order to know what limitations and opportu-nities exist within international and locally relevant legislation, and in agreements and rules


Team of decisionmakers assessingneeds and options

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affecting refugee operations, the legal settingmust first be considered. What can and cannotbe done? Which policies and principles mayinfluence the promotion and adoption of livestock-based activities? For example:

ä does host government legislation addresslivestock-keeping in refugee settings, andwhat interpretation can be made for the pre-vailing circumstances?

ä does legislation provide any opportunity thatcan help promote sustainable and environ-mentally sound practices?

ä what agreements relating to refugee livestockproduction exist between the lead refugeeagency and the government, and how is thisinterpreted?

ä which other organisations, institutions orindividuals have the right to contribute todebate and decisions, and what are theirrespective opinions?

Initial consultations should be kept asbroad as possible, especially among the localand refugee communities. UN agencies, andUNHCR in particular, other humanitarianorganisations, host government organisationsand non-governmental organisations (NGOs)all need to be consulted. Specialist advice maybe required on certain occasions.

Stakeholder and institutional analyses willhelp identify and clarify interests and roles, andbegin the process of defining responsibilitiesand rights, i.e. the mandated or inferred respon-sibilities (in the case of agencies and govern-ment entities), and legal or moral rights in thecase of refugee and local populations. This willbegin to define what can and may be done atthat time, and perhaps in the future.

The next step would then be to determinethe perspectives and potential contributions of

each. Table 12 outlines one means of addressingthis.

Analysis of the above stakeholder rules andrights will allow a number of important issuesto be addressed at the outset. Other questionswhich may need to be posed are the following:

ä what level of livestock keeping activity will,or will not, be acceptable?

ä who has legal responsibility for what in therefugee setting?

ä what local interests and rights must be takeninto account?

ä how can the interests and responsibilities ofeach stakeholder be developed into construc-tive support and/or involvement in refugeelivestock production?

ä what livestock keeping activities may lead toprocesses that are likely to have an impactelsewhere?

ä what sources of technical expertise, localknowledge and extension skills are accessi-ble/ available, and what processes of appeal,and aspects of monitoring and evaluation,can/must be developed? and

ä what other issues have a bearing, and how?

5.1.2 Involved Stakeholders

It is important to understand certain aspects ofthe culture, interests and needs that one isworking with. Project activities have to startwith what people know, and acknowledge theirattitudes and priorities. It is also important tounderstand roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes at the household and com-munity levels, as well as factors that mightinfluence these decisions. Answers to such questions will help build a picture of:

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54 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Issue, or area to analyseWhich stakeholders have rules(including policy statements,regulations and decrees) thathave a bearing on the use ofresources and the establishmentof agricultural activities? Providea brief interpretation of the rulesfor each stakeholder.Which organisations, agencies orgovernment departments have alegal responsibility for the landand or resources of the area, orare affected directly or indirectlyby refugees? Provide a briefinterpretation of responsibilitiesfor each stakeholder.Which communities have a legalright or acceptable claim on theland and/or resources of thearea? How can their rights,interests and needs be reflected?Provide a brief summary of therespective claims of each.Who has formal responsibility forsupporting and guiding livestockproduction and livelihooddevelopment; what is theirmandate and are they in aposition to pursue this? Provide abrief summary for each.Which communities are affectedby the use (and misuse) ofresources in the refugee affectedarea? Provide a brief summaryof ‘who’ will be affected by‘what’.What approaches will eachstakeholder take in contributingto the design, planning, support,and monitoring of agriculturalactivities? Provide a briefsummary of each.Other issues/areas are likely tobe identified when planning andundertaking this analysis.

Stakeholders rules, rights and roles

Table 12. A Tool for Analysing Rules, Rights and Roles

What are theimplications orresults of this?Consider: do they saythe same thing; whatare the implications?

Consider: how theseinterests andresponsibilities can betaken into account?

Consider: how can anyconflicting rights, needsand interests beresolved?

Consider: where morethan one actor has aninterest, can therespective interests andresources be combined?

Consider: how can theirinterests and needs betaken into account?

Consolidate the interestsand needs.


Government NGOs

LocalCommunityGroups Others

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ä who makes decisions relating to livestockkeeping activities? Men, for example, morecommonly look after cattle, while womenoften tend to be responsible for sheep orgoats, but young men – even children – areoften made responsible for herding.

ä who within the community – refugee orlocal people – may influence decisions?

ä what sort and number of livestock haverefugees arrived with?

ä what sort of livestock keeping are therefugees familiar with?

ä what do people need to know in order tomake decisions about keeping livestock?What influences their decisions (i.e. theirbackgrounds, needs, knowledge, skills andattitudes)?

ä which local or refugee organisations can besupportive to livestock keeping activities?

5.1.3 Characteristics of an Area

In every setting where livestock keeping is beingconsidered, it is essential to:

ä understand the prevailing environmentalconditions – climate, water resources, soilsand vegetation types – to influence the selec-tion of livestock and determine its carryingcapacity;

ä identify features or areas that may impact onthe health and productivity of animals in therefugee-affected area;

ä identify areas that may be harmed by livestock, such as protected areas, highlyfragile or highly valued areas, sacred sites,crop fields and water resources, and wherelivestock may cause problems to people;

ä identify specific vulnerable resources withinthe area that should be protected from livestock;

ä recognise any particular threats to livestockkeeping, such as theft, and competition forgrazing and browse with host communitylivestock;

ä be aware of the diseases, and other risks tolivestock, that are prevalent, or may occur inthe area; and

ä become familiar with the traditional uses ofrefugee hosting areas.

If livestock-keeping is anticipated, particu-larly where cattle, sheep and goats or other larg-er animals will be maintained in significantnumbers, it is advised that an environmentalassessment be undertaken to gauge the poten-tial social, economic and environmentalimpacts that might arise and be prevented orcontained through responsible and timelyactions. Reference should be made toUNHCR’s guidelines on EnvironmentalAssessment (UNHCR, 2005).

5.1.4 Putting the Pieces Together

While it is easy to gather large volumes of infor-mation, it is often more difficult knowing howto interpret it and, especially, what to do withthe results.

The most useful, practical action at thisstage is to try and develop a simple overviewand strategy of the situation – present andpotential. This could either be written ordrawn, and is best carried out as part of a teamexercise involving local stakeholders, so thatthey are not excluded from the outset. Keyissues to bear in mind when elaborating a strat-egy for livestock-keeping are:

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ä rules governing livestock (especially largeranimals) keeping;

ä availability of water points;

ä availability of seasonal fodder and siting andaccess to grazing areas;

ä livestock-keeping practices of local commu-nities, and nomads if present in the area;

ä disease prevention and control;

ä marketing opportunities;

ä livestock management responsibilities - whowill be responsible for herding and the like;and

ä off-limit zones – sites of high biological orcultural diversity or lands being restored –which may be seasonal.

Consideration and discussion of the abovepoints will enable a more detailed and relevantresponse to then be taken in relation to live-stock-keeping. This broad strategy should bereviewed if conditions alter, including for exam-ple if herd size or composition alters.

5.2 Supporting Livestock-KeepingActivities

5.2.1 Training And Extension Support

Livestock projects are likely to require supportat a number of levels. People with little practi-cal experience but a desire to engage in live-stock-keeping for example as a means of incomegeneration will need considerable initial guid-ance with the selection of appropriate animalsand livestock production systems. More experi-enced livestock owners will not require this levelof attention but may require or benefit frominformation on disease control, improved

feeding possibilities, and generally more appro-priate management given the situation in whichrefugees and returnees find themselves.

Guidance and support may also berequired where some degree of commercialisa-tion develops, where small products are pre-served or sold, or where larger livestock areslaughtered regularly for market. In suchinstances, livestock keepers will require exten-sion support and training, and access to special-ists with animal health knowledge and veteri-nary skills and drugs. At the same time, regula-tory measures might need to be set in place toensure that the trade in meat is supervised andcontrolled to protect consumers from diseaseand contamination.

Much of the regulatory work is addressedwithin the public and environmental healthcomponents of UNHCR’s work in refugee-related operations. Specialised agencies, usuallyresponsible for sanitation and waste manage-ment, the trade in foods and foodstuffs, andenvironmental education, will be mandated todevelop suitable slaughter facilities and effectivemeat inspection systems. It is important, however, to refer to the responsible agency toclarify their roles and responsibilities, and todetermine any specific issues relevant to livestock-keeping (e.g. the incidence locally ofoutbreaks of notifiable diseases or other epidemics that will affect project developmentand livestock production.

More effective systems of livestock produc-tion will also benefit from the following:

ä understanding which training and extensionstrategies best address the local circum-stances and needs of the people;

ä a cadre of technically competent resourcepersons with good communication skills;

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ä access to field inputs and mechanisms toensure their effective distribution; and

ä consideration of how support for livestockproduction will continue beyond the life ofany external assistance to the project.

Managers and implementing agenciesshould identify as quickly as possible what skillsrelating to livestock-keeping are availableamong the communist. Extension systemsshould then be designed around these skills, butalso to take account of other people who do nothave the same level of skills but who arenonetheless keen to engage in this sector in oneway or another. This will help the latter groupin particular to get started and to minimise any environmental risks, while at the same timemaximising their own livelihood benefits from livestock. Building further on this platform, extension services can and shouldhelp refugees and returnees become graduallymore self-reliant through helping thembecome:

ä knowledgeable and skilled in selected live-stock-keeping activities;

ä committed to adopting and practising live-stock-keeping activities that are locallyappropriate, i.e. suited to the prevailing eco-logical conditions, and respectful of hostcommunity economic activities and culturalsensitivities;

ä adept at accessing resources necessary forthe identified production systems (e.g. han-dling and veterinary tools and medicines);and

ä willing to commit the time and physicaleffort required to establish and maintain theenterprises selected.

Animal health services will provide anentry point for working with livestock owners.People may not seek technical advice on livestock-keeping, but frequently require assis-tance in addressing veterinary problems (dis-eases and injuries etc.) and access to veterinarymedicines. A network addressing animal healthwill require:

ä adequate levels of knowledge and skillsamong animal health workers;

ä access to the relevant tools/equipment andveterinary medicines;

ä mechanisms to finance these workers andrecover costs of medicines used;

ä mechanisms to ensure the animal healthworkers are accountable in their work anduse of medicines; and

ä support, as possible, from veterinarians.

These animal health workers will also func-tion as extensionists, bringing knowledge andnew skills to livestock owners, and improvingmanagement and production systems.

5.2.2 Monitoring

As with any activity, close monitoring is essen-tial and will be the successful and timely intervention in any aspect of an initiative tosupport livestock-keeping and sound manage-ment. Given that there are so many possibleaspects to such initiatives it is impossible to provide a blueprint for monitoring. Instead, itis recommended that once essential baselinedata have been gathered in relation to the spe-cific activities, clear and measurable indicatorsshould be identified with representatives fromthe participating communities and implement-ing agencies, with clear responsibilities identi-fied and assigned to individuals or groups ofpeople to monitor particular aspects or actions.

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58 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Regular meetings should be arranged withinterested stakeholders to ensure that informa-tion gathered through the above process isshared in an open, regular and timely manner,

enabling corrective actions to be taken. Possibleindicators are given in Annex III to help usersassess some of the environmental risks commonly associated with livestock keeping inrefugee and returnee situations. Others, howev-

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References and FurtherReading

Adjare, S. 1984. The golden insect. A handbookon bee-keeping. London, IntermediateTechnology Publications.

Bayer, W. and Waters-Bayer, A. 1995. Foragealternatives from range and field: pastoral for-age management and improvement in theAfrican drylands. In: Scoones, I. (ed). Livingwith uncertainty. New directions in pastoraldevelopment in Africa. London, IntermediateTechnology Publications.

De Haan, C. and Blackburn, H. 1995. The bal-ance between livestock and the environment.In: Livestock Production and Human Welfare.VIII International Congress of the Associationof Institutions of Tropical Veterinary Medicine,Berlin, September 29–25, 1995.

Defoer, T., Budelman, A., Toulmin, C. &Carter, S.E. (eds.) 2000. Building commonknowledge: participatory learning and actionresearch (part 1). In T. Defoer & A. Budelman(eds). Managing soil fertility in the tropics. Aresource guide for participatory learning andaction research. Royal Tropical Institute,Amsterdam.

FAO. 1982. Crop residues and agro-industrialby-products in animal feeding. FAO AnimalHealth and Production Paper No. 32, Rome.

FAO. 1988. Village milk processing. FAOAnimal Health and Production Paper No. 69,Rome.

FAO. 1990. Manual of simple methods of meatpreservation. FAO Animal Health andProduction Paper No. 79, Rome.

FAO. 1990. The technology of traditional milkproducts in developing countries. FAO Animal Health and Production Paper No. 85, Rome.

FAO. 1990. Community forestry. Herders’decision-making in natural resources manage-ment in arid and semi-arid Africa. CommunityForestry. Note No. 4. Rome.

FAO. 1992. Feed from animal wastes: feedingmanual. FAO Animal Health and ProductionPaper No. 28, Rome.

FAO. 1992. Legume trees and other fodder treesas protein sources for livestock. FAO AnimalHealth and Production Paper No. 102, Rome.

FAO. 2001. Mixed Crop-Livestock Farming.FAO Animal Production and Health Papers 152.FAO, Rome.

Hodges, J. 1991. Sustainable development ofanimal genetic resources. World Animal Review68: pp. 2–10, Rome, FAO.

IIED. 1994. Rapid Rural Appraisal Notes No.20. Special Issue on Livestock. London,International Institute for Environment andDevelopment.

Mace, R. 1988. A model of herd compositionthat maximises household viability and itspotential application in the support of pastoral-ists under stress. Pastoral Development NetworkPaper 26b. ODI, London.

Ogle, B. 1998. Livestock Systems in Semi-AridSub-Saharan Africa. Proceedings from aConference on Women in Agriculture andModern Communication Technology.Denmark.

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60 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Perrier, G. 1995. New directions in range man-agement planning in Africa. In: Scoones, I.(ed). Living with uncertainty. New directions inpastoral development in Africa. London,Intermediate Technology Publications.

Pretty, J.N. 1995. Regenerating agriculture.Policies and practice for sustainability and self-reliance. London, Earthscan. 320 pp.

Reijntjes, C., Haverkort, B. & Waters-Bayer, A.1992. Farming for the future. An introduction tolow-external input and sustainable agriculture.Leusden, the Netherlands, Macmillan, ILEIA.250 pp.

Schmitz, H., Sommer, M. and Walter, S. 1991.Animal Traction and Rainfed Agriculture inAfrica and South America. GTZ-GATEPublications. Braunschweig, Viehweg Verlag.

Scoones, I. (ed). 1995. Living with uncertainty.New directions in pastoral development in Africa.London, Intermediate TechnologyPublications.

Singh, K. and Schiere, J.B. (eds.) 1995.Handbook for straw feeding systems. Principlesand applications with emphasis on Indian live-stock production. ICAR, Krishi Bhavan, NewDelhi, and Department of Animal ProductionSystems, Wageningen Agricultural University,the Netherlands. 428 pp

Toulmin, C. 1995. Tracking through drought:options for destocking and restocking. In:Scoones, I. (ed). 1995. Living with uncertainty.New directions in pastoral development in Africa.London, Intermediate TechnologyPublications.

UNHCR. 1998. Environmental Guidelines:Livestock in Refugee Situations. UNHCR,Geneva.

UNHCR. 2002a. Refugee Operations andEnvironmental Management: A Handbook ofSelected Lessons Learned from the Field.UNHCR, Geneva.

UNHCR. 2002b. Cooking Options in RefugeeSituations: A Handbook of Experiences in EnergyConservation and Alternative Fuels. UNHCR,Geneva.

UNHCR. 2005. A Handbook onEnvironmental Assessment. UNHCR, Geneva.

Waters-Bayer, A. and Bayer, W. 1994. Planningwith pastoralists: PRA and more. Eschborn,GTZ.

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Keeping Bees

IntroductionBee-keeping is a low cost activity requiring only basic skills and a few resources to provide honey – avaluable energy food that has a wide range of other values, including medicinal usage The better thebee-keeping skills and knowledge, the better the honey yields that can be expected.

Environmental conditionsBees can be kept in temperate, semi-arid and tropical conditions where there is abundant vegetationproviding blossoms/flowers regularly through the year, and for long periods of time. Bees need accessto water.

Environmental issuesBee-keeping is probably one of the most benign livestock husbandry activities, with few if anynegative, and many positive, environmental implications.

However, bees collect nectar from flowers, including those of agricultural crops. Where pesticides areused, the nectar may contain traces of these chemicals, which will then be present in the honey. Somepesticides will affect, and may kill, bees: if the bees carry pesticide into the hive, whole colonies maybe lost.

Social issuesPeople are most likely to object to bee-keeping because they are afraid of bees, and this is only likelyto happen when they are aware of their presence. Careful siting of apiaries (groups of beehivestogether in one place) is important so that flying bees and the hives themselves are not interferedwith. This is achieved by placing beehives high in trees (so they cannot easily be reached and the beesdo not fly at a height where they encounter people) or next to hedges (so that they are lessconspicuous, and so that the bees fly up and over obstacles and are above head height).

Production systemsThe three most important aspects of basic beekeeping in a refugee setting are:

ä locating beehives so that bees have access to flowering plants (from which to forage for nectar) andwater;

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IWhich Livestock for

which Situation


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62 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

ä a secure site where they will not be disturbed and honey will not be robbed or taken by pests,where bees will not be affected by pesticides, and where the bees will not disturb people; and

ä good honey harvesting practices – achieving maximum yields while leaving sufficient store for thebees’ own use, or harvesting in time for the bees to rebuild sufficient honey stores for them tosurvive less productive periods of the year, i.e. when nectar is not available.

Bee-keepers need to know:

ä the flowering plants of the area, and the seasons in which they flower;

ä basic skills in handling bees, particularly how to harvest honey without damaging the colony ofbees; and

ä how to handle and process honey to ensure it is clean and not contaminated, and is not spoiledwhen separating honey from wax.

Setting upMost rural communities have people experienced of bee-keeping: necessary skills will almost certainlybe found among the refugee/returnee community. The most appropriate approach will be to identifythese people and begin to review their experience, needs and the potential for keeping bees or perhapsimproving ongoing honey production practices. This will extend to natural resource managementand land use planning. Bees are particularly suitable where specific areas need to be protected fromovergrazing and cultivation, providing an alternative productive activity that complementsconservation activities, e.g. in wooded catchment areas and in riverine woodland.

Unmanaged bees canbecome a social issue

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Keeping Rabbits

IntroductionRabbits are easy to keep, easy to breed and provide a good source of meat. Production costs arenegligible, once simple housing or pens are constructed, and little effort is required. In many partsof the world children adopt this activity. Rabbits are fed on green vegetation including vegetablescraps, and require little water. Manure from cages can be added to compost pits.

Environmental conditionsAs they are usually housed, rabbits will do well in almost all conditions.

Environmental issuesFor domestic rabbits there appear to be very few environmental issues. The greatest issue may be theattraction of snakes and other predators to areas around pens.

Social issuesThere are many local social issues associated with eating rabbit and the meat is not widely eaten inmany cultures. Sometimes the meat is only given to children. In terms of social interaction betweenhouseholds, and between refugees and host communities, there is unlikely to be any basis for conflict.

Production systemsSome key aspects of rabbit-keeping in a refugee setting are:

ä controlled breeding, to provide a regular supply of animals for the table and to prevent in-breeding;

ä providing a regular supply of fresh feed; and

ä secure housing or pens to prevent predators from taking the animals.

Keepers of rabbits need to know:

ä what plants and other feeds to provide, and from where these might be sourced;

ä good animal husbandry and hygiene practices; and

ä how to sex, handle, manage, slaughter and process rabbits.

Setting upMany projects introducing and providing training on rabbit production work through communitygroups. As rabbits breed so prolifically an initial training and demonstration unit can soon providebreeding animals to group members. As breeding is such a critical aspect of rabbit production thereis need to ensure a good pool of breeding animals to exchange regularly within a community.

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Keeping Poultry

IntroductionPoultry keeping is a low cost activity requiring only basic skills and few resources to provide eggs andmeat. The main types of poultry kept in refugee and returnee operations are chickens, ducks andturkeys. They provide a valuable source of protein with few inputs, little cost and minimal effort.

Environmental conditionsPoultry can be kept in almost any conditions from temperate, to semi-arid and tropical conditions.They thrive on kitchen and crop wastes, and, like pigs, are excellent scavengers.

Environmental issuesPoultry-keeping can be a very low impact activity when birds range freely around settlements. Theycan have a positive impact on vermin, disturbing and discouraging snakes, eating insects and grubs,and consuming wastes that might otherwise attract rats or mice. They are only likely to have negativeimpact when kept in small areas and droppings accumulate, with pollution risks.

Local, or locally adapted breeds of poultry are most suitable as they are likely to thrive and produce,coping with local conditions, pests, diseases and predators. Exotic/improved breeds are only suitablefor intensive systems where high quality feeds and medicines can be obtained on a reliable basis.

Chickens are, however, vulnerable to pests and diseases and require medications to address a widevariety of ailments, from external parasites to viral, bacterial or protozoan infections. Ducks areprobably the most robust of these domestic birds, unlikely to suffer major ailments and capable oftolerating a wide variety of climatic conditions.

Social issuesPeople seldom object to poultry-keeping unless the birds become a nuisance, damaging kitchengarden crops, entering kitchens and scavenging for food in inappropriate places.

Production systemsImportant aspects of basic poultry-keeping in a refugee setting are:

ä good housing for the birds at night, to prevent theft and losses through predation;

ä pens to keep the birds in for at least a proportion of the day in order that eggs are laid where theycan be collected, and chicks can be protected from predators; and

ä access to and knowledge of the preparation and use of proprietary or traditional medicines tocontrol diseases and parasites.

Poultry keepers need to know:

ä how to recognise and control pests and diseases; and

ä how to maximise production by feeding.

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Setting upMost communities have people with experience of poultry keeping, so some experience of poultry-keeping is likely to exist in the refugee population. Refugees may have brought poultry with them,in which case poultry keeping is likely to be spontaneous. Any strategy to expand and improvepoultry-keeping should be based upon what skills and birds already exist. One particular area toaddress fairly early in any intervention is building on and sharing the knowledge of local people andrefugees on traditional poultry cures and treatments, using locally available ingredients such as plants.

Keeping Fish

IntroductionAquaculture has considerable opportunities and practical benefits for use in a refugee or returneesituation. Only simple arrangements are needed, and inputs are minimal. If linked with agriculturalpractices, additional benefits can be expected. Duck farming, for example, goes hand in hand withsemi-intensive aquaculture, while ducks also help control snails that can damage certain crops.Species commonly used in this form of aquaculture include tilapia, catfish and carp.

Environmental conditionsFish can be kept in most climates although this becomes more difficult and less productive in coldregions. Ponds should be established well away from rivers, lakes or streams to prevent fish fromescaping and entering natural ecosystems. Some shade might be required in particularly hot climates,to protect the fish but also to help reduce evaporation.

Environmental issuesSemi-intensive freshwater ponds have few negative environmental effects. In the tropics, where thereis a fast turnover of organic materials, effluent and excavated sludge from ponds can be used as afertilizer or to enrich other ponds. Some care needs to be taken to prevent over enrichment of ponds.Care also needs to be taken where ponds may disturb the subsoil, where the water table is high, orwhere there is a risk of flooding as the latter could wash rich concentrated water from a pond to otherwater sources. The use of chemicals in semi-intensive aquaculture is usually limited, but precautionsneed to be taken wherever antibiotics or other drugs are used.

Wherever possible, only native fish species should be stocked, thus preventing the risk of exoticspecies escaping from ponds and perhaps establishing new populations in nearby rivers and lakes, anaction which can have disastrous impacts on local wildlife.

Social issuesFish-keeping is more popular in Asian culture than many others, but there are few reasons why thisshould not become more widely adopted. While concerns are often expressed over the fact thatfreshwater ponds may assist the spread of certain waterborne diseases through harbouring theintermediate hosts of parasitic worms such as bilharzias, and can be breeding sites for mosquitoes,such problems are minimised by maintaining weed-free, well-stocked ponds. Ponds stocked withappropriate fish stocks can even help reduce the spread of water-born diseases since the fish feed onsuch organisms. What is important is for farmers to be aware of which water-born diseases are presentin their locality and to know how to take preventive measures. The presence of a well-trained

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extension agent at a site could be a critical factor to ensure well-managed ponds and thus reduce therisk of waterborne disease.

Attention also needs to be given to individual roles in fish keeping: in some societies, women maynot be permitted to catch fish, but they may be the ones who sell them. Sometimes people believethat certain foods are unclean or will make them sick. For example, many people refuse to eat fishraised on animal excreta for these reasons.

Production systemsFreshwater ponds can be highly productive in their own right, even without considering the benefitsof integrating these into an appropriate agricultural scheme. In Malawi, for example, in regions thathave continuous water, ponds can yield an average of 1,650kg of fish per hectare of pond per year,while for the rain fed ponds, which are dry for part of the year, productivity is still more than 1,300kgper hectare per year.

Among the most important aspects of keeping fish in a refugee setting are:

ä the siting of the pond(s), e.g. to collect rain, but also for safety reasons least people or livestockfall into ponds;

ä choice of stocking species;

ä cultural acceptance of fish keeping in semi-intensive conditions; and

ä making the most of beneficial links with agricultural activities, to increase outputs.

Keepers of fish need to know:

ä how to select good stock fish for breeding purposes; and

ä good pond hygiene practices.

Setting upLand-based systems (such as ponds, rice fields and other facilities built on dry land) are probably themost realistic option for semi-intensive aquaculture, the other being cages, pens or rafts suspended inwater bodies. Ponds are the most common of all aquaculture systems and range from small,rudimentary, gravity-fed facilities to large geometric ones, constructed using machines and withsophisticated water management regimes. Carps and tilapias, both widely cultivated fish species, arecommonly grown in freshwater ponds, whereas shrimp and finfish which are tolerant to more salinewaters are cultivated in brackish water ponds.

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Keeping Pigs

IntroductionPigs are often kept in small numbers and fed on household scraps or allowed to scavenge for wastes.Pigs are also good cultivators, using their snouts to dig over the soil in search of roots and tubers.They are unlikely to be costly to obtain (locally) and require minimal skills and resources to keep andmaintain them. The critical factor will be having access to sufficient feeding materials. Keeping pigsin enclosures and providing all their feeding and water needs is a better, cleaner and more productivesystem but requires more capital for constructing pens (which need to be strong, as pigs are verydestructive) and more effort (to collect and supply feeds).

Environmental conditionsPigs will do well in almost all conditions providing they have adequate feed, water and shelter fromthe elements. They need shade and additional water in very hot climates, as well as shelter inpersistent cold wet conditions.

Environmental issuesPublic health issues are the main problems with keeping pigs. Pig droppings attract flies and otherpests and are likely to carry the eggs of internal parasites that can be passed on the humans. Theserisks are greatest where pigs are free-ranging around a settlement, leaving their droppings aroundhomes. People are less likely to come into contact with faecal matter when pigs are penned, but thisleads to a concentration of wastes in a single place. Accumulated wastes in pens are less likely to dryout and will encourage flies: without good control and frequent cleaning wastes can, especially duringrain, contaminate drainage ditches and water resources.

Social issuesPigs are scavengers by nature and if let loose in almost any area will find food – occasionally damagingkitchen gardens and other crops, and looking for opportunities to enter cooking areas. This, as in anysituation, can lead to disputes between neighbours, so some degree of pig control is often required.

Pigs are the subject of religious taboos in many cultures, and the adoption and promotion of pig-keeping by refugees must be considered against the sensitivities of host communities (or otherrefugees), particularly if people are likely to come into contact with them.

Production systemsImportant aspects to consider if keeping pigs in a refugee setting are:

ä recognising any social or religious taboos among refugees and host communities;

ä ensuring adequate feed to keep animals healthy and productive; and

ä ensuring that animals are controlled to prevent damage to kitchen gardens and other crops andfoods.

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Keepers of pigs need to know:

ä how to handle and manage pigs;

ä how to castrate male piglets; and

ä how they are going to obtain adequate feeds of the right kind and balance to maximise productionand maintain health.

Setting upPig-keeping is likely to be a spontaneous activity in a refugee or returnee setting, and programmeefforts will most usefully address management aspects to improve public health, encouraging thepenning and feeding of animals.

Keeping Goats and Sheep

IntroductionSheep and goats (frequently termed shoats) are often maintained in combined flocks/herds. Althoughtheir feeding habits are different (goats browse on shrubs, bushes and small trees while sheep grazeon grasses) their management is similar, with similar needs and inputs. Mixed flocks of shoatsmaximise the use of vegetation and buffer each other in times of environmental stress – most breedsof sheep are generally robust and cope better with drought (but loose condition during rains), whilegoats are more productive during wet seasons but are less tolerant to drought. Goats are betterscavengers, using household waste and consuming a wide variety of feed, whilst sheep tend to befairly fussy feeders.

Most shoat systems are extensive, apart from certain breeds of dairy goat which may be zero grazedwith quality home-grown fodder. Zero grazing one or a small number of goats can be achieved withminimal inputs – a small pen and access to fodder trees, vegetable kitchen wastes and other high valuefeeds. Sheep and goats are generally relatively inexpensive to acquire and maintain, and requireminimal management skills.

Environmental conditionsDifferent breeds of sheep and goats are kept in a very wide range of environments, from cold and wetto hot, dry conditions. In wetter, more productive, environments more animals can be maintainedin a given area. Goats generally do better around settlements, reflecting their effectiveness inscavenging food.

Water requirements for both animals are modest.

Environmental issuesSheep are fairly good grazers, seldom damaging grassland unless the stocking density is too high.Goats can be more destructive, especially damaging tree seedlings and other young plants. Highnumbers of goats in an area can, over a sustained period, cause serious damage to the vegetation,particularly in dryland areas.

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Where sheep and goats are treated with acaricides, to control external parasites such as ticks, thetreatment areas, and the disposal of the wash and containers, must be considered. These chemicalsare toxic to animals, birds and fish, and the potential for contaminating water resources (both naturaland piped/stored) must be considered.

Social issuesSmall numbers of sheep and goats kept in and close to refugee camps are unlikely to lead to problems,but unsupervised animals can do extensive damage to crops and young trees. Within camps, wheretree planting activities are undertaken and kitchen gardens are maintained, the poor management ofsheep and goats can lead to friction between households and ruin tree planting programmes.

Where larger numbers are kept and flocks are taken out of camps into the surrounding area, accessto sufficient land (and vegetation) is likely to be the greatest issue. As sheep and goats tend to movesmaller distances from camps – than either cattle or camels – their impact is more localised and istherefore more likely to be destructive. Damage to host community crops and degradation of naturalvegetation is very visual and can lead to conflict.

Production systemsThe three most important aspects of keeping sheep and goats in a refugee setting are:

ä ensuring animals are controlled to prevent damage to tree seedlings, kitchen gardens and fieldcrops;

ä routine control of internal and external parasites; and

ä ensuring host community acceptance of shoat keeping in areas outside of the camp/settlement.

Keepers of sheep and goats need to know:

ä the implications of poor supervision of their animals (in terms of the environmental and socialconsequences);

ä how to handle sheep and goats, to maximise production through controlled breeding or providingfeed supplements; and

ä how to prevent and treat diseases.

Setting upSmall numbers of sheep and goats are likely to be kept in most refugee camps, spontaneously.Outside intervention might help identify ways in which productivity and production can beincreased, and how the destructiveness of animals in and around camps/settlements might becontrolled and avoided.

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70 Refugee Operations and Environmental Management

Keeping Cattle

IntroductionThere are many systems and levels for keeping cattle, reflecting the purpose for which these animalsare kept, the ecology and climate of the area, and the breeds adopted. The simplest systems are basedon local cattle that are adapted to prevailing conditions, and extensive land use which allows cattleto range over wide areas to forage for grazing. At the other extreme, improved breeds of cattle arepenned and fed with purpose-grown feeds in a balanced ration that maximises milk production orgrowth rates for meat production. These varying systems have very different cost implications andrequire different skills and resources.

Environmental conditionsCattle are kept in a wide range of environments, from cold, wet situations to hot, dry conditions. Asa general rule, the drier the environment, the larger the land area required for each animal.

Like sheep, cattle are grazing animals and feed almost exclusively on grass. Cattle require largeamounts of drinking water every day.

Environmental issuesCattle can be destructive feeders in dryland areas, grazing plants low to the ground, disturbing theroots and compressing the soil. Overgrazing can lead to changes in the composition of plants in anarea, and even the loss of vegetation, leaving the soils bare and vulnerable to erosion.Cattle are also large and heavy and their continued movement in large numbers over the samepathways to and from camps can lead to loss of ground vegetation and the structural breakdown ofsoils. This can lead/contribute to dust problems in and around refugee camps, as well as other formsof erosion.

Where large numbers of cattle are kept in pens – either permanently or at night – the accumulationof droppings can be a valuable source of manure for gardens and farms. If the pens are poorly sited,however, rainwater and effluents may contaminate water resources, and pests and vermin(particularly flies) are likely to become a localised problem and possible disease vector.

As with sheep and goats, where cattle are treated with acaricides, to control external parasites such asticks, the treatment areas, and the disposal of the wash and containers, must be considered.

Social issuesAs with all extensively grazed or browsed livestock, access to sufficient land and vegetation is likelyto be the greatest issue. As extensive production systems are inherently less productive, more animalsmust be kept in order to provide the meat and milk required.

The area required for rangeland cattle-keeping for a small refugee population may be quite extensive.This may not be acceptable to host communities. As an ‘out-of-camp’ activity, any support toextensive cattle-keeping by refugees must be based upon negotiated agreements with local people andthe local administration. Cattle can also do significant damage to crops in a short period of time: cropdamage in turn can lead to major disputes between those growing crops and those owning thecattle.

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More intensive systems may also pose difficulties between host and refugee communities. Whilefewer animals may be needed, better quality feeds are required. One of the easiest ways to producequality feedstuffs for cattle is to enclose areas of good grass, and cut and carry the grass to the animals.This, however, may result in the enclosure of areas around camps by refugees to protect it from othergrazing animals – an activity that may not be acceptable locally. Again, such arrangements must beagreed between host and refugee communities.

Production systemsImportant aspects of cattle keeping in a refugee setting are:

ä ensuring host community acceptance of the activity;

ä ensuring access to adequate water and grazing/feed (year round) for the number of cattle to bekept, and that grazing and watering of livestock does not lead to conflict with local communities;and

ä controlling parasites.

Cattle-keepers need to know:

ä how they are going to maintain the levels of feeding required and/or the productivity of grazingareas;

ä how to effectively manage the breeding of cattle;

ä how to handle cattle;

ä how to prevent and treat diseases and control ticks and worms.

Setting upInterest from within the refugee/returnee community, and the ability to acquire cattle, are the firstconcerns to address, alongside the feasibility and acceptability of keeping cattle in the area. If findingsare positive, the next step would be to review land use planning systems (e.g. for grazing/wateringneeds and rights) and establish means of avoiding livestock damage to crops and natural vegetation.Additional considerations are to determine how to provide animal health resources, strengthenexisting husbandry skills, and ensure benefits to the wider refugee population/host community.

Keeping Camels

IntroductionCamel husbandry requires knowledge of the species, and basic skills in livestock handling andmanagement. Although often expensive to purchase, camels require few external inputs. They are animportant source of milk and meat in many cultures.

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Environmental conditionsKeeping camels is particularly appropriate in dryland areas, but they require access to considerableareas of land for browsing. They thrive in arid and semi-arid conditions, where cattle and sheep areless suitable, feeding on bushes and trees. Their water requirements are fairly high, although manybreeds do not need watering every day.

Environmental issuesCamels can be destructive if kept in limited areas, damaging seedlings and affecting vegetationthrough heavy browsing. Camels are, however, generally considered to do less damage to theenvironment than cattle.

Social issuesAccess to sufficient land and vegetation is likely to be the greatest issue. Camels require extensive areasover which to graze, which may not be acceptable to host communities both in terms of access toadequate range and concerns over damage to crops. As an ‘out-of-camp’ activity, any support tocamel-keeping by refugees must be based upon negotiated agreements with local people and the localadministration.

Among refugees, individuals already familiar with camel-keeping are those most likely to wish topursue this activity.

Production systemsThe most important aspects of basic camel-keeping in a refugee setting are:

ä ensuring host community acceptance of the activity;

ä ensuring that local climate and natural vegetation are suitable;

ä ensuring that adequate land is available; and

ä adequate knowledge and skills in camel handling and husbandry.

Camel-keepers need to know:

ä the productive browsing areas, and means for maintaining and maximising that capacity in themedium- and long-term; and

ä how to effectively manage camel breeding.

Setting upWith interest in camel-keeping among the refugee population, the feasibility and acceptability ofkeeping camels must be the first issues to explore. If policy, spatial, environmental and socio-economic conditions permit, the most realistic approach is likely to allow those refugees withexperience and continued interest in camel-keeping to access camels. This will build upon local land-use planning and ensuring accountability in reducing livestock damage to crops and naturalvegetation, particularly to young and regenerating plants. This experience can then be used to buildon existing husbandry skills, and ensure broader benefit in the wider community.

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73Livestock-Keeping and Animal Husbandry in Refugee and Returnee Situations

IIChecklist for Livestock

Management in RefugeeSituations


Classification of refugees and their former experience, according to their production patterns(farmers, agro-pastoralists, pastoralists)

Animal census (number of refugees’ animals): if this is not possible, estimate total numbers

Animal census (number of local animals): if this is not possible, estimate total numbers

Stocking rate (number of animals/hectare)

Type of herds (single-species or mixed herds)

What is the range condition (present state, seasonal fluctuations, future potential)?

Are there any signs of soil erosion?

Availability of livestock feedsä crop residues

ä agricultural and industrial by-products

ä unconventional feeds

Seasonal movement pattern of animals, including the presence of nomad herds

Occurrence of livestock diseases

Optional disease control strategies:ä what is the probability to prevent outbreaks with a particular strategy?

ä what is the time frame and the certainty to terminate outbreaks with this strategy?

ä how is the benefit-cost relation of the strategy?

ä will the livestock owners participate in the strategy?

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ä how will the strategy influence the performance of the included animals?

ä will the working conditions of the veterinary service be improved during implementation of thestrategy?

ä are the resources needed (budget, manpower, transport, vaccines, drugs, etc.) available or accessi-ble?

Zoonotic diseases (main: tuberculosis, brucellosis, tape worms, rabies)

Water points (locations, conditions)

Livestock markets and prices

User groups (range associations, etc.)

Key institutions involved (e.g. Ministry of Agriculture/Livestock; Department of LivestockDevelopment; Regional/District Livestock offices; Research and Extension services)

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Number of animals per hectare (specified for each species)

Herd composition (% specified for species, age, sex)

Number of animals per household

Number of animals per human population

Biomass production (tons/hectare)

Plants and plant species composition, especially in perennial grasses

Vegetation cover (%)

Livestock prices

Productivity rates: fertility, parturition interval, age at first parturition

Meat production per animal/average daily weight gain (g/day)

Meat production per area (tons/hectare)

Disease incidences (% – number of new cases/total number of animals)

Crude mortality rate (% – number of animals died/total number of animals)

Disease incidence of zoonoses in humans (%)

Number of conflicts over grazing rights and water resources

Fish and wildlife stocks locally and in other regions of the host country (downstream)

Protected areas – local/community, national or international

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IIIUseful Indicators to Assess

Environmental RisksCommonly Associatedwith Refugee Livestock


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Three of the main products from livestock are meat, milk and eggs, the production of which mayvary during the course of the year. At times there will be shortages but there will also be periods ofsurplus. Shortages are best offset by processing surpluses in times of plenty in order that food can bestored until needed.

Animal products such as milk and meat are difficult to keep over long periods. They can spoil andbecome unsuitable for human consumption in a matter of hours, particularly in hot and unhygienicconditions. A range of preservation techniques exist, including heating, smoking, salting, fermenting(to produce lactic acid) and drying. For example, dried, smoked or salted meats are prepared topreserve the meat and to change the flavour and texture to increase variety in the diet. Many requirebasic skills, equipment and knowledge, but especially important is good hygiene and storageconditions. An indication on how to process and preserve some of the most commonly availablelivestock products is indicated below: more details can be found in the suggested reading list.

Processing Milk

Milk deteriorates rapidly – it ‘sours’ because bacteria live and develop in it. Most systems forpreserving milk are based upon removing water from milk, and/or changing its acidity in order tocreate an environment unsuitable for most organisms. Fermented milk products such as yoghurt andsoured milk contain bacteria that aid digestion and help prevent illness caused by other bacteria.Fermentation also removes milk sugar (lactose) from milk and facilitates digestion of the product.Traditional sour milk is a thick clotted product similar to yoghurt but with a stronger flavour and amore acidic taste. It has a shelf life of three to eight days and is used as a drink or as anaccompaniment to meals in some countries. Preservation is due to the production of lactic acid bynaturally occurring lactic acid bacteria in the untreated milk. Other examples of processed dairyproducts are cheese, butter and condensed milk.

Cheese MakingVarious types of fresh cheeses can be made with simple equipment – a pan or container and somelemon can be enough to prepare simple but tasty cheese. Cheese making uses specific bacteria toprocess the cheese, turning the fats in the milk to solids. The liquid is separated and the fats arepressed and matured. The end result is a dry product which has a high acid content. The dryness andacid combine to keep it stable so it can be stored – suitably protected from the air, dampness andvermin – for long periods of time.

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IVProcessing Animal



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Butter MakingTraditional butter and ghee are made by stirring sour milk until the fat coagulates and separates intothe solid butter (fat) and liquid buttermilk. The butter is collected by hand and washed with cleanwater two or three times before packing for storage. This butter can then be heated to evaporate anyremaining water. The result is ghee, a highly valued cooking and frying ingredient, particularly inAsia.

Condensed milkCondensed milk is a combination of dehydrated milk and sugar. The sugar is added to the milk as itis heated and the water is slowly boiled off, resulting in a white syrupy liquid that, when kept inairtight jars, will keep for very long periods of time because it now contains no water and the sugarserves as a preservative.

YoghurtThis involves the use of a culture – bacteria that are seeded into freshly sterilised milk, which turnsit into a fairly acidic creamy product. The water is not separated. The yoghurt stays fresh because ofits acidity, the result of the bacteria’s activity. Yoghurt does not keep for very long, but its life isextended by sealing it in airtight containers.

Processing Eggs

It is unlikely that eggs will need to be preserved, because production in most parts of the world occursthroughout the year. However, where there is some degree of seasonality with extremes of abundanceand none, there are methods for increasing their shelf-life. Eggs should never be washed with a liquidand then stored because water dissolves the protective protein cover on the outside of the shell thatstops air getting into the egg itself. It is the deterioration, over time, of this protein layer that allowsbacteria to grow inside the egg.

One of the most satisfactory, reliable and inexpensive means of preserving eggs is to glaze them byplacing them in a solution of soluble glass (sodium silicate) and then letting them dry in the air.Sodium silicate can be obtained from most pharmacies, and should be used as follows: 1 part sodiumsilicate to 9 parts water. This system allows eggs to be stored in good condition for many months.

Processing Meat

The same principles of preservation apply to meat as to milk – the moisture in meat is what leads toits deterioration. Techniques for preserving meat therefore rely on removing the water and changingits acidity. A number of options are available.

Biltong or JerkyBiltong is made from strips of dried, salted meat, which are dark brown with a salty taste and aflexible, rubbery texture. Cattle, camels or wild game are the most commonly used meat for biltong.Fresh, lean meat is cut into long thin strips and hung in a dry hot airy place where dust and insectscannot spoil it. Evenly spaced strips are hung on a string suspended in a well ventilated, dust-free area

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and left to hang for five to seven days. As the meat dries is darkens and becomes a fairly hard butnutritious product that can be stored for long periods of time. Some processes involve soaking themeat in vinegar and herbs, or adding spices, to soften it, increase its shelf-life and add flavour.

Salted meatSome meats can also be salted. In this process, fresh joints are soaked for a number of days in brine(a strong salt solution), before being wiped dry. Salt is then rubbed into the meat, a process that needsrepeating periodically – the salt preventing bacterial growth on and in the meat. Meat can also be leftto soak in a strong brine solution, if sealed in airtight containers. Prior to its use, as much salt aspossible is washed out of the meat before cooking.

Smoked meatJoints of meat can also be preserved very effectively by smoking them ¬suspending them in specialcontainers that produce wood-smoke from sawdust from selected trees. The smoke works by partiallydrying the meat and sealing its surface from further oxygen penetration.

SausagesMeat also can be preserved by setting it in fat. In this process, the meat is cut or ground into smallpieces and the mixed with fat, herbs and spices. The fat seals the meal from air. The sausages are thensmoked to further preserve them: the herbs and spices also contribute to preventing the meat fromdeteriorating.

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