Socioeconomic module
Entry costs
Collective action
Knowledge & attitudes

Management and socio-economics of tsetse control


There are many meanings attached to the word “participation”, in the field of tsetse control as in development more generally. Confusingly it can apply to both contributions - in cash, kind or labour – of beneficiaries, or their input into decision-making. Several writers have viewed different sorts of participation as a spectrum, for example from “tolerating technology in their local area” to “making decisions on control methods, implementing and co-ordinating all activities” (Barrett and Okali 1998). But it might be more useful to think about the two dimensions of participation: contribution and decision-making.

In general, it is desirable for livestock-owners (and to a lesser extent others in tsetse-affected areas) to contribute to the costs of tsetse control, for two reasons:

• They benefit from higher livestock survival and productivity, and more generally a tsetse-free environment.

• Livestock-owner contributions may be necessary for the sustainable funding of tsetse control, following the sharp decline in support to veterinary operations by African governments.

Participation in decision-making by beneficiaries of development programmes is both intrinsically desirable, and a way to ensure the sustainability of user contributions.

Participation in both senses should therefore be a consideration in the entire project cycle of design, implementation and monitoring of tsetse control programmes, but it is unlikely to be either desirable or feasible to aim for a high degree of participation at every point of the cycle.

A clear formulation of the objectives of tsetse control is necessary to determine the appropriate degree and nature of participation. Where tsetse control is seen as part of a national or large-scale eradication strategy, the costs of tsetse control in certain areas at the frontiers of control will grossly outweigh the local benefits. In such cases it will be unreasonable to expect communities to meet the full costs of control in the medium-term, but also unreasonable to allow their participation in decision-making to determine the design of the programme as a whole. A high degree of community participation is more likely to be appropriate in small-scale areas where the community and outside agencies can agree on an objective of tsetse suppression.

Even then there will be strong limits on participation. The design of tsetse control programmes involves minimum or threshold levels of inputs (e.g. density of targets, proportions of cattle to be treated, frequency of application). If inputs are made below these levels, control is likely to be ineffective, or effective at a level disproportionately low for the inputs made. These levels are objectively determined by factors such as the behaviour of tsetse fly and the persistence of attractants or insecticides. If “participation” is understood as allowing livestock-owners or their representatives to negotiate levels of inputs (explicitly, or implicitly by failing to buy or use inputs), effective control is unlikely to result.

What is therefore necessary is:

• a commitment to participation in overall project philosophy, to explain these issues to livestock-owners and create consensus around objectives,

• an open-mindedness on the issue of contribution, depending on the place of a tsetse control project in a larger programme, and issues such as transitional subsidies,

• a willingness to combine participation in decision-making with an awareness of the non-negotiability of some scientific parameters.

More specifically, Barrett and Okali (1998) list a number of factors that tend to increase the likelihood of participation through community institutions: previous experience of external assistance, actual or expected links with outside agencies, the preparedness of agencies to situate tsetse control within broader developmental objectives, as well as perceived benefits to human health. Incentives to individuals to participate include the possibility of more productive livestock (which relates closely to the current costs of living with trypanosomiasis), but also the possibilities of more land, a fly-free environment, or benefits to human health.

Participation can also be achieved through different institutions: “traditional” village institutions, village development committees set up by government initiative or by other programmes, or dedicated “tsetse committees”. All these may have their advantages and disadvantages in different situations.


Barrett, K. and Okali, C. (1998). Partnerships for Tsetse Control – Community Participation and Other Options. World Animal Review 90, 39-46.

Brightwell, B., Dransfield, B., Maudlin, I., Stevenson, P., and Shaw, A. (2001). Reality v. Rhetoric – a Survey and Evaluation of Tsetse Control in East Africa. Agriculture and Human Values 18, 219-233.

Kamuanga, M. (2003). Socio-Economic and Cultural Factors in the research and Control of Trypanosomiasis. PAAT Technical and Scientific Series 4, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.


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