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Management and socio-economics of tsetse control

Profitability of tsetse control

By profitability we mean here the relation between the costs to livestock-owners of a tsetse control technology, or combination of technologies, and their benefits. The benefits can also be viewed in practice, more or less, as the costs to livestock-owners of continuing to live with trypanosomiasis. Because any tsetse control strategy will involve a delay before tsetse populations drop to planned or acceptable levels, profitability, or lack of it, is best viewed in a medium-term timescale, after that initial decline. For economic issues relating to the period of decline, see entry/transitional costs.

The methodology presented is therefore to establish the costs to livestock owners of living with trypanosomiasis (for more information click here), and to compare them with the lowest cost per livestock-producer of tsetse control, as demonstrated by Tsetse Plan. If the costs of control are lower, there is a good case for continuing to plan control, even though other possible constraints such as transitional costs, cashflow, collective action and knowledge and attitudes will also have to be investigated and managed.

If the costs of tsetse control are greater than the costs of living with trypanosomiasis, it is highly unlikely that there will be any point in proceeding, unless government or implementing agencies are prepared to accept indefinite subsidy. This might occur where:


• it is considered worthwhile subsidising tsetse control in one area in order to make control easier elsewhere


• there is serious concern about the development of resistance to trypanocides.

The profitability of tsetse control can be calculated in two ways: per head of cattle or per livestock-producer. If pour-ons are the main control technology under consideration, and because their costs are easily calculable per head of cattle, it may be easier to calculate the costs of trypanosomiasis also per head of cattle. With target technologies, it may be easier to calculate costs per livestock-producer.

While there is now a literature on the application of formal cost-benefit analyses to tsetse control (Kamuanga, 2003), we believe this can be largely by-passed in the case of small community-based programmes, for three reasons:


• Such programmes are most likely to use bait technologies, which have very low capital or start-up costs (or can absorb such costs in a broader programme) so that the most important comparison is between medium-term recurrent costs of control and costs of living with trypanosomiasis.


• Human and even more so livestock population figures are likely to be very unreliable; it will be easier to compare costs and benefits per livestock-producer than at a system level.


• Information from livestock-producers on the costs and benefits of tsetse control is likely to be approximate, because of long recall periods and because many of the benefits are likely to be intangible, which reduces the utility of formal quantified analyses.

There is also a literature on the contingent valuation method of using large-scale structured surveys to establish “willingness to pay” for tsetse control (eg, Swallow & Woudyalew 1994; Kamuanga, 2003). This module has preferred to adopt a different approach, of establishing the various costs of living with trypanosomiasis, establishing the costs of tsetse control, and presenting the alternatives for the approval of the community, because:


• Despite assurances to the contrary in the literature, we believe survey answers about willingness to pay may say more about the respondent’s expectations of subsidy than about “real” willingness to pay


• “Willingness to pay” is dynamic and can be influenced by a demonstration of what the total real costs of living with trypanosomiasis are


• Livestock-producers in many parts of Africa are already paying the costs of regular treatment with trypanocidal drugs, which might confuse the contingent valuation technique.


• Tsetse control with bait technologies is strongly subject to threshold effects, so that partially complying with the technically optimal strategy may produce virtually no impact on tsetse populations. Livestock-producers’ willingness to pay in answer to open-ended questions is thus less relevant than their willingness to pay a specific amount explained to them as a minimum for effective control.

For further informaton on identifying and calculating the costs of living with trypanosomiasis click here.

References

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.

Swallow, B.M. & Woudyalew, M. (1994). Evaluating willingness to contribute to a local public good - application of contingent valuation to tsetse control in Ethiopia. Ecological Economics 11, 153-161


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