you say what?

Home | About us | Research & Development | Training | News | Downloads | Services | Publications
ITC Staff | Donors & Projects | Collaboration | Terms of Use | Contact us | New strategic Plan | WALIC | More Info on WALIC | Vacancies


About Us

Research & Development






ITC Staff

Donors & Projects


Terms of Use

Contact Us

New strategic Plan


More Info on WALIC



From the International Trypanotolerance Centre to the
West Africa Livestock Innovation Centre:

A timely transformation

The Beginning

The beginning of the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) can be traced back to the early 70s, when the Rockefeller Foundation provided some funding for researchers to work on the problem of trypanosomosis which was decimating livestock in many parts of Africa. The Gambia was chosen as the site of research in West Africa for a number of reasons. Firstly, because cattle were almost exclusively of the N'Dama breed in The Gambia; secondly, because although the phenomenon of trypanotolerance in N'Dama cattle had been observed in a number of countries in Africa and demonstrated experimentally in Nigeria, N'Dama cattle in The Gambia continued to die from trypanosomosis.

Several studies were carried out during the period from 1974 to 1980, and involved a large number of N'Dama cattle compared to a similar number of Zebu animals from north of the tsetse belt in Senegal. In one of these studies, the animals were exposed to trypanosomosis in Keneba Gambia, a high tsetse challenge area in The Gambia, and the study unequivocal demonstrated the phenomenon of trypanotolerance in N'Dama cattle. Within 8 months of all of the Zebu cattle were dead, while at the end of 18 months two thirds of the N'Dama cattle including calves were still alive.

These results and those of several other studies published in scientific journals, encouraged the then President of The Gambia Sir Dawda Jawara to mount a fund raising campaign for the establishment of a permanent centre in The Gambia, for the purpose of carrying out studies on all aspects of trypanotolerance for the benefit of all countries which have trypanotolerant cattle.

The idea resonated with several development partners who jointly provided financing to set up such an institution. Thus the International Trypanotolerance Centre was born, and established in by an Act of the Parliament of The Gambia on the 31st of December 1982. It became fully operational by 1985 with initial financing provided by a consortium of partners including: African Development Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, United Kingdom Government, the European Economic Community, the Belgian Government, the Norwegian government, UNDP-FAO and the Government of The Gambia.

For well over 2 decades 1985 to date ITC pursued the above mandate which later evolved to the following mission:

To contribute to on-going efforts to increase livestock productivity and utilization in the West Africa region through the optimal and sustainable exploitation of the genetic resistance of indigenous breeds of livestock for the welfare of human populations

This mission was crafted to enable ITC carryout its work within the context of local livestock production systems and with the ultimate goal of positively impacting on human livelihood.

Outputs: Some of the outputs of its research endeavours in the form of global, regional and local public goods during this period are inter alia:

i) A confirmation that the N'Dama cattle is not only trypanotolerant but that it also tolerates other diseases and thrives under high infestation burdens that would kill other breeds including tick borne Cowdriosis and gastro intestinal worms (H.contortus). It reported a similar tolerance in the Djallonke sheep and the West African Dwarf Goat, both of which are also endemic to the region.

ii) A demonstration that genetic based approach is a valid option among others for the control of Trypanosomosis, thus placing the trypanotolerance trait in livestock and the value of livestock that possess the attribute on the global radar.

iii) An increased global awareness of the need conserve the N'Dama cattle, one of West Africa Endemic Ruminant livestock for future generation, and reverse the insidious threat of gene dilution through uncontrolled and un-regulated cross breeding.

iv) The development and implementation of a unique three-tier open nucleus breeding and selection programme to improve the performance (growth rate and milk production while conserving its hardy and rustic traits) of the N'Dama and ensure its and use by resource poor farmers.

In the process of developing this open nucleus breeding and selection programme it set up a sizeable and perhaps the only N'Dama pure breed herd in West Africa and has disseminated the resulting elite bulls to local communities as a contribution towards meeting their immediate food security needs and alleviating poverty, while at the same time preserving in situ, these genetic resources for future generations.

This breeding and selection scheme was recently recommended by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to be disseminated and modified as appropriate across West Africa.

Some outcomes.

a) A study carried out by Okeke et al. 20021 quantified some of the gains accrued to farmers who benefited from ITC work in The Gambia, over a 10-year period, identified a number of outcomes and impacts which are summarized in the table below:

Table 1. ITC intervention impact on body weight and milk output simulated over a 10-year period using the ILCA herd model




Impact of ITC intervention

Total live weight of herd (kg)



Proportionate yield of 15% also equivalent to 4.5 kg additional BW/cattle

Average annual milk off take/herd (litres)



Proportionate yield change of 31%, equivalent to additional 48litres/breeding female at 35 breeding females per herd

Average annual herd mortality (%)



1.2% reduction in mortality

Average annual herd off take rate (%)



1% increase in off take rate

Change in herd size, 0-10 yrs. (%)



16. 3% incremental herd growth over 10 years

Implied av. age of exit of cows (yrs.)



Retention of younger and more productive herds

The proportionate changes in meat and milk outputs brought about by ITC interventions translate to an estimated annual surplus of $2.010 million. Consumers also benefited from a relative reduction in prices of 20% and 4% for milk and meat, respectively.

b) Improvements and dissemination through distinct projects.

Some of the outputs of the work of ITC have been built upon, improved and disseminated across the region through specially funded projects. Two of such projects are:

i) PROCORDEL: A European Commission funded networked research - development project on livestock in West Africa, better known by its French acronym of PROCORDEL. The 4-year project (2000-2004) was coordinated by ITC and CIRDES, and brought together 13 West African countries with the participation of a number of international agricultural research centres like ILRI and CIRAD.

The objective of the project was to provide livestock owners with improved and/or new technologies to increase livestock production and hence impact positively on rural livelihoods and food security.

The project built on some of the technology outputs of ITC work. For example, ex-ante and ex-post evaluation of farmers' attitudes towards a number of research introduced interventions (disease control, dissemination of improved local breeds) have led to the identification of the factors that influence technologies uptake and the cost-effectiveness of these interventions

ii) PROGEBE. A project on sustainable management of endemic ruminant livestock in Africa also better known by its French acronym of PROGEBE. This is an on-going project (2008 to 2014) whose focus is to demonstrate the competitivity of our local indigenous breeds especially when improved through breeding and selection, managed for optimum exteriorization of their genetic merit by their owners who have been provided not only with improved genetic material but also knowledge and know-how for managing them in their fragile environment with appropriate policy support.

PROGEBE (housed at ITC) and which is being implemented in 4 countries (Guinea, Mali, Senegal and The Gambia) has taken the stakes a little higher, in that it is addressing a number of downstream issues (processing, marketing, infrastructure for slaughter and water provision as well as access to credit) which are often neglected and eventually negatively affect project impacts on beneficiaries. The project has produced some outstanding outputs but will be ending soon. Strategies are therefore being developed at ITC to ensure that this project in institutionalized so that its fragile outputs can be consolidated, extended and transformed into outcomes and long term impacts.

The Transformation

ITC devoted the whole of 2012 to rejuvenating itself through the development of a much needed new 10-year Strategic plan.

The plan was developed through a consultative process that involved ITC's stakeholders, technical and development partners. The fundamental question raised in different formats throughout this process was:

Taking into account current and projected trends, challenges, opportunities, as well as the concerns, constraints and aspirations of our resource poor livestock keepers, what should ITC do over the next ten years, to make it relevant, and continue to effectively contribute to food security and wealth creation through the development of the livestock sector

This question presented within the context of a concept note that analysed the background issues of: current and projected trends, challenges, opportunities of the livestock sector as well the concerns, constraints and aspirations of resource poor livestock keepers in the West Africa region was debated, discussed and analyzed during a number of forums including:

  • A stakeholder and expert planning workshop

  • A focus group consultation with livestock farmers and NGOs working with these farmers

  • An electronic forum to open the discussion to other stakeholders at large.

The suggestions, inputs and recommendations of the various stakeholders and partners were then transformed into a coherent ten-year strategic plan. This first draft of the plan was further discussed and validated during a validation workshop attended by a subset of participants in the previous consultations listed above.

A final critical discussion of the output of the validation workshop by the Interim Executive Committee (IEC) of the ITC Council and a few representatives of stakeholders and partners was then held to finalize the plan followed by the approval of plan for implementation by the IEC.

The main features of the plan are briefly presented below.

1. A significant paradigm shift of the way we do business from a linear technology development and transfer approach to an innovation systems approach that embeds the value chain concept. Hence a rebranding from the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) to the West Africa Livestock Innovation Centre (WALIC).

2. An expanded geographical focus from the 4-5 countries close to The Gambia to the ECOWAS region member states.

3. Hence the need to develop stronger ties and working relationships with the ECOWAS Commission and CORAF/WECARD

4. A change in the Governance structure to make it more representative and reflect the changes above. In this regard, the WALIC Council will include representatives from our various stakeholders.

6. An improved impact logic from information and knowledge outputs (such as scientific publications with weak links to outcomes and impacts) to information and knowledge outputs translated into effectively utilized outcomes and impacts through innovation systems approaches.

7 An expanded livestock focus from only trypanotolerant N'Dama cattle and Djallonke sheep and goats to include other endemic West Africa Ruminant Livestock

8. A focus on 4 Strategic Themes.

The four themes with their goals are presented below with some indicative deliverables and activities in the following table.

Theme 1. Genetic improvement, conservation and enhanced use of West African livestock

Goal: To catalyze and facilitate regional actions for coordinated efforts to conserve indigenous ruminant livestock genetic resources and improve their use in response to changing production and market circumstances.

Theme 2 - Capacity development of actors along livestock value chains

Goal: To strengthen the capacities of livestock keepers and public and private sector actors to effectively perform their core roles in order to facilitate market-oriented livestock development.

Theme 3 – Knowledge Management

Goal: To facilitate access by livestock stakeholders to reliable and up-to-date information and knowledge to inform timely decision-making.

Theme 4 - Advocacy and partnership brokerage

Goal: To elevate the profile of livestock, generate more support for the sector and promote collaboration among livestock development stakeholders to address systemic industry-wide bottlenecks at national and regional levels.

Indicative deliverables and activities for the 4 strategic themes

Strategic Themes


Indicative Activities

1. Genetic improvement, conservation and enhanced use of West African livestock

Framework for the conservation and use of indigenous ruminant resources developed

Enumeration of options, tools and approaches for conservation (in-situ and ex-situ) and use

2. Capacity development along the livestock value chain

Attracting youth and ‘new entrants' to livestock farming as a business

Support to post graduate and specialized training and retooling programmes in entrepreneurial livestock business

3. Knowledge management

Specific knowledge products, including data-bases and multimedia developed to inform decision-making at various levels

Databases on specific aspects of animal feeding and breeding summarized and made accessible to producers and traders

4. Advocacy and partnership brokerage

Data and information that support economic arguments for investing in livestock breeding, nutrition and health provided

Provision of evidence to support arguments for increased public and private sector investments

The Near Future

The plan is to officially launch WALIC by mid-2014 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of ITC. Between now and then a number of preparatory activities will be carried out including inter alia:

i) Development of an implementation plan to accompany the strategy (funded by FAO) and featuring:

  • Priority setting for outputs and corresponding activities for the four thematic areas of the plan

  • Development of a Monitoring and Evaluation component in relation to the thematic areas including a Logical Frame Work with indicators of outputs, outcomes and impacts

  • Risk analysis and management for the implementation of the ten-year strategic plan

  • Detailed work plan and budget for the first year (2014)

ii) Sensitization of potential member countries to join the WALIC group, and the preparation and endorsement of MOUs with the ECOWAS Commission; CORAF; and participating member countries

iii) Constitution and inauguration of WALIC Governing Council

iv) Negotiation of new country agreement for WALIC with the Gambian Government

v) Staff recruitment (see advertisement for first set of recruitment)

vi) Resource mobilization.


The Web Site o WALIC is under construction and will soon be available for consultation. Meanwhile essential information about WALIC have been provided on this page of the ITC site and provides a direct opportunity for stakeholders to also consult the site of ITC on whose legacy and achievements WALIC was built.

1 Okike, I., Agyemang, K. and Ehui, S. 2002. Impacts and potential benefits of ITC.s animal health research and herd management interventions: case study of The Gambia.

Home | up