Urban Zoo Project in the A4NH 2014 Annual report
Zoonoses, or diseases that can pass between animals and humans, lead to 2.4 billion cases of illness and 2.2 million deaths per year, according to ILRI scientist, Delia Grace. The 13 major culprits include bacterial infections such as brucellosis and leptospirosis, as well as other infections, like bovine tuberculosis. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of diseases that have emerged over the past 20 years originated in animals.
Such diseases are particularly likely to develop when people and animals live in close proximity to each other, increasing the opportunity for the transfer of pathogens. With agricultural intensification stemming from increased consumer demand for milk and meat, animals and humans are increasingly crowded within the same space, often in unsanitary conditions. In Nairobi, more than 60 percent of the population lives around the edges of the city in crowded, informal settlements.
Most lack basic amenities, such as toilets, running water, and sewers. Many residents keep livestock close by, although it is illegal to keep animals within city limits. The United Nations predicts that these makeshift suburbs will continue to grow in Nairobi, surpassing six million people by 2025.
The Urban Zoo project is led by the University of Liverpool (UK) with a major funding award from the UK Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative, led by the UK Medical Research Council, and is aligned to A4NH at ILRI. It looks at the health implications of changes in agriculture, particularly theintensification of livestock in urban and peri-urban areas. The project examines ways in which pathogens are introduced and spread through livestock commodity value chains among urban populations around Nairobi, Kenya.
The project includes nine academic partners in Kenya and the UK that coordinate with the Kenyan government and policy institutions as well as a network of INGOs. Urban Zoo research covers meat and milk value chains, human nutrition in poor urban populations (with additional funding from the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, LCIRAH), food chain risk assessments, and integrated disease surveillance, among other areas. Researchers are mapping the path of meat and milk products, and their associated disease risks in Nairobi. Through this, they hope to better understand how
diseases emerge in order to prevent future outbreaks.
“We’re redrawing the map of Nairobi, not based on geography, but on the connectedness of animal and human populations, in terms of bacteria that they share.” Eric Fèvre
Featured in the A4NH 2014 Annual report on page 23. You can read the report by clicking here