Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Out of the Cold: Private Sector Tailors New Animal Vaccine to Build Resilience among Nepal’s Rural Herders

Nearly 3 million goat and sheepherders across Nepal’s small towns and villages face one of the world’s most damaging livestock diseases. Known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), or Sheep and Goat Plague, the disease causes serious illness and often death in goats, sheep, and other small ruminants, undermining a critical source of food and income for smallholder households.

While a PPR vaccine currently exists, it is largely out of reach for Nepal’s rural herders because of their remote and often inaccessible locations, and the high cost involved to reach these areas. To overcome these barriers, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is funding an innovative partnership, led by Hester Biosciences, to produce a new form of this life-saving animal vaccine. Known as Thermostable and Thermotolerant Peste des Petits Ruminants (TPPR), the vaccine is tailored to address the unique challenges faced by Nepal’s rural herders.

Developed by Tufts University and being scaled for mass production by Hester Biosciences, the TPPR vaccine eliminates the need for refrigerated storage from the time it is produced to the moment it is administered to an animal. Unlike the current vaccine, the new form is thermostable and thermotolerant, and therefore able to maintain its potency at temperatures reaching up to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) for a period of 45 days. Transporting and distributing the vaccine without the need for constant cooling means more streamlined logistics and lowered costs, all of which translates into delivering rural herders a vaccine they urgently need at a price they can afford.

That’s good news for Nepal’s smallholder households that collectively raise 12 million goats and sheep. The new vaccine holds transformative potential to reduce PPR disease and loss among small ruminant herds, which provide an affordable entry point to livestock ownership and a way for smallholder farmers and female-headed households to diversify income.

By the end of 2020, Hester Biosciences aims to reach 100,000 rural herders and vaccinate 400,000 sheep and goats. To accomplish this, they will develop a reliable supply chain to sell the TPPR vaccine directly to large distributors located across Nepal’s districts. These distributors are able to properly store the vaccines in bulk over the long-term and then supply agrovet retail shops in rural areas. Veterinary technicians then distribute the vaccines the last mile from the shops directly to herders.

The initiative has received strong support from Nepal's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. Hester Biosciences will collaborate with Community-based Animal Health Workers (CAHW), an existing network of locally trusted and appropriately trained members of the community that provide affordable veterinarian services in remote areas. CAHWs will work with Hester Biosciences to learn in detail about the TPPR vaccine, proper vaccination techniques, and safe handling and disposal practices. In turn, CAHWs will share this knowledge and offer TPPR vaccination services for a small fee to existing herder networks in their villages. Using the CAHW networks, the vaccine can reach a far larger target market, benefiting both the vaccine producer and livestock keepers while achieving vaccination levels that will over time reduce the threat of PPR to small ruminant production. Strengthening CAHW networks will have spillover benefits beyond PPR control.

Reaching herders with information about PPR disease and the TPPR vaccine is a key component of the project. Outreach through creative “video on wheels” displays, audio recordings, street performances, and game-playing activities at places where herders and their households frequent, such as markets and bazaars, are some of the approaches that will be undertaken to inform and educate households.

The distribution of this vaccine, coupled with education about PPR, will directly improve the resilience of Nepal’s smallholder households. Lowered mortality and morbidity in small ruminants will make livestock ownership more profitable for existing herders and more feasible for farmers wanting to diversify their livelihoods by rearing animals in response to changing climatic and economic conditions. Leveraging the private sector and existing networks for production and distribution of the vaccine will ensure sustainability and continued smallholder access for years to come.

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Great innovation and excellent illustration of a public private partnership, collaborating not only on the development of an amazing technology leading to a more practical vaccine but putting in place scaling mechanisms through further PPPs which provide effective private sector animal health service delivery systems and public-private sector collaboration on extension, ensuring producers are aware of the new products and the benefits they bring and we hope driving the successful control and elimination of PPR in Nepal.

The approaches being applied in Nepal were critical elements in the global eradication of Rinderpest and USAID is excited to see these innovations contribute to the global eradication effort on PPR, whilst simulataneously strengthening animal health service delivery, particularly for small-holder and pastoralist livestock keepers. 

Is your project working on PPR control or perhaps enaged in a cool public-private partnership? Let us know what you are doing and share your experiences here!

Interested in PPR control and eradication economic analysis? check out this thoughtful paper, including a sentance from the abstract below.

The results of the benefit-cost analysis suggest strong economic returns from PPR eradication. Based on a 15-year programme with total discounted costs of US$2.26 billion, we estimate discounted benefits of US$76.5 billion, yielding a net benefit of US$74.2 billion. This suggests a benefit cost ratio of 33.8, and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 199%.