Shouldering the burdens of the poor

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A computer-based Tool-box for promoting and supporting draught animal power
Validated RNRRS Output. Home List by Audience List by Topic

A new toolkit is available that makes clear the benefits of using draught animals to provide power on-farm. It’s now being recognized that the use of animals is not a backward technology, but rather one that provides real benefits. They can, for example, be used to apply minimum tillage and prevent erosion in fields – because they do not tear up the ground in the same way that a tractor would. Available on CD-ROM, the new toolkit contains a large amount of information and training materials on animal power, including examples and case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Subjects covered include animal welfare and keeping animals healthy, as well as techniques for conservation agriculture.

Project Ref: LPP09 :
Topic: 2. Better Lives for Livestock Keepers: Improved Livestock & Fodder
Lead Organisation: Kenya Network for Draught Animal Technology, Kenya 
Source: Livestock Production Programme


Current Situation
Lessons Learned
Impacts On Poverty
Environmental Impact


Research Programmes:

Livestock Production Programme (LPP)

Relevant Research Projects:

Project ZC0204: Preparation of a practical Draught Animal Power Toolbox

Project leaders: Fred Ochieng and Pascal Kaumbutho, KENDAT, P.O. Box 2859, 00200-City Square, Nairobi, Kenya.


Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa, Contact Person: Prof. Timothy Simalenaga. Currently: Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. Private Bag X519,Silverton, 0127. South Africa. Tel: 012-842 4058

Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine. Contact Person: Dr R. Anne Pearson. Currently: Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Tel:  +44 (0) 131 650 6246

Research Outputs, Problems and Solutions:

  1. Tool kit – Computer based information resource

A computer based (CD-ROM) toolkit was produced, assembling LPP sponsored, actionable research outcomes and others’ research and experience reports. These included KENDAT recommended practices and recorded as well as grey literature or end-user experiences from the rest of Africa, with examples and cases from Asia and Latin America. The toolkit was a consolidation and storage of actual as well as recommended practices for animal power with comprehensive information that also captured animal welfare and other state of the art in animal traction applications such as work animal nutrition and conservation agriculture.

  1. Training and education materials

The toolkit included numerous best-practice experiences and examples in a comprehensive IT for Farm Power package. It was an animal power venture and user-support resource, complete with downloadable promotional and training materials in form of handouts for training of trainers as much as animal power users.  Aspects of gender issues of animal traction are covered in the toolkit.

  1. Linkages with other sources of information

The toolkit received much commentary and email discussions towards perfection from animal power experts and enthusiasts from around the world and particularly from the Eastern and Southern Africa animal traction networks. LPP uploaded the toolkit on their website with the appropriate linkages to other sources of animal power information around the world.    

Types of Research Output:

Product Technology Service Process or Methodology Policy Other

Major Commodities Involved:

The main commodity upon which the output (s) focused was Intermediate Technology for Farm Power and Transportation Support.  CD ROM toolkits can be applied to virtually all other aspects of agricultural development and advancement.

Production Systems:
 Explanation of Production Systems

Semi-Arid High potential Hillsides Forest-Agriculture Peri-urban Land water Tropical moist forest Cross-cutting

Farming Systems: 

Smallholder rainfed humid Irrigated Wetland rice based Smallholder rainfed highland Smallholder rainfed dry/cold Dualistic Coastal artisanal fishing

Potential for Added Value:

ICT based information and training resources can be clustered with virtually all other outputs dealing with farm power sources of intermediate nature, efficient information dissemination and even interactive end-user support to rural development. Some of the ways in which this output and its related projections can have added value includes:

  • Hard copies of the kit for those without access to, or comfort with computers.
  • Insertion of Video clips for animal power applications, including commentary and opinions by animal power farmers and transport providers.
  • Additional Back-up fliers and handout materials than available currently, especially in animal welfare and conservation agriculture which have seen tremendous development needs in the recent past.
  • Translating into more languages.
  • Add the cases of more work animals like buffalo and Ilama etc. to make the toolbox more international and worldly.
  • Insertion of location specific case studies on experiences with animal power applications including animal powered business management, comparison with manual and tractor operations, operational gross margins, traditional good habits and practices of animal care and manufacture of animal handling equipment including cow-hide “ropes” for harnessing etc.
  • Add more materials for other farming systems like on wetlands with clay soils and other peculiarities.
  • Add materials for post – harvest operations including food processing transport and marketing business.
  • Linking the toolkit even more widely  – in the information supper highway.
  • Linking the toolkit with learning institutions – e.g. universities and colleges and ICT libraries.

KENDAT outputs on this project could be clustered with projects with the following projects:

R6153, R5732, R6619, R6610, R7637, R6970, R7376, ZC0204, R6621,
Livestock in challenging environments: Coping strategies for progress,
R7425, Tropical Forages CD ROM.


How the outputs were validated:

The toolkit was validated by animal power promoters, trainers and some users after commentary and email discussions towards perfection from animal power experts and enthusiasts from around the world.

The Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT) has used the toolkit for regular animal power training courses in Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (CA-SARD: GCP/RAF/290/GER, FAO, German Trust Fund Project), Farmer Field School Facilitators and District Coordinators as well as in Animal Welfare training: The Heshimu Punda(Respect the Donkey) Programme, Community Groups and Primary School Programmes.

The Toolkit has also been used under the FARM Africa supported Conservation Agriculture equipment and Artisanry Training project by KENDAT in Kenya and CAPA in Tanzania.

Other users have been market transporters under the International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) Poverty Watch Programme who used the KENDAT Community Parliament platform for advancing the inclusion of transport issues in poverty discussions under the topic of “Intensified Use of Intermediate Means of Transport”.

Overall; topics covered included work animal selection and utilization including equipment and accessories (harnessing, panniers etc.), equipment sizing and adjustments (carting and tillage equipment, loading) and welfare (nutrition, watering, husbandry etc.)  Download handouts for users including learner’s fliers were used in the training courses.  Equipment hirers and village artisans under CA-SARD training back-up services (by KENDAT) learnt about equipment and cart loading, adjustments and limits, among other issues of business venture.

The training materials were accepted as very useful to the various trainers who had previously suffered from the lack of pertinent coherent information in topics of training among end-user practitioners. Handouts and fliers received in the training of trainers courses proved useful as re-circulated training materials for subsequent training at Farmer Field Schools, Donkey User Groups and other sittings.  Some 400 formal and informal trainees (in about equal ratios of men and women) in field level remote areas (across some 50 FFS of the CA-SARD Project) must have benefited from the Toolkit.

No formal evaluation of the impact on agricultural “behaviours and practices” have been observed.  Advances in CA would be difficult to link directly to the use for the toolkit, which is a means to a training end.

Where the Outputs were Validated:

The toolkit was validated by animal power promoters, trainers and some users in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the East and Southern Africa region in early 2005. The Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT) has used the toolkit for regular animal power training courses in 2005-2006 including the CA-SARD: GCP/RAF/290/GER, FAO, German Trust Fund Project which was conducted 2004-2006 in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Heshimu Punda (Respect the Donkey) Programme, Community Groups and Primary School Programmes were carried out in two Districts in Kenya: Kiambu and Kirinyaga.

Copies of the Toolkit were circulated as learning and training tools across member countries of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA), namely: South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.

The FARM Africa Project was conducted by KENDAT in Kenya’s Machakos District and by SCAPA in Arumeru District in Tanzania (2004-2006).  The Livestock Production Programme of NRIL uploaded the toolkit on their website (December 2005) with the appropriate linkages to other sources of animal power information around the world.

Farming systems involved were the Smallholder rain-fed humid and Smallholder highland farming systems, some with semi-arid conditions. 

Current Situation

Who are the Users?

Outputs are currently being used by animal power trainers in NGOs and government extension services in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.  Toolkit copies were particularly circulated to animal power activists in the region through mailing and distribution at Poverty Watch meetings, regional NRIL meetings in the East Africa region as organised by NIDA and other partners.

Other circulation opportunities were during the Conservation Agriculture meetings such as the 3rd World Congress on Conservation Agriculture held in Nairobi in September 2005.  Some 54 countries with an attendance of 320 delegates were represented.  Not all the delegated received copies of the Toolkit as only those known to have direct links to DAP promotional activities were included.

Others, worldwide are reaching the toolkit through the LPP/NRIL and by contacts made through the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA) and associated websites such as KENDAT and Africa Conservation Tillage Network.

Where the outputs have been used:

As stated above (12) outputs are currently being used in various parts of the world and specifically in the Eastern and Southern Africa countries.  At the 3rd World Congress some DAP activists from West Africa, Asia and Latin America were provided with copies of the Toolkit.  Those in regular training for DAP are most likely using the same on a regular basis.  No formal survey of users has been made but word-of-mouth and/or occasional email feedback would indicate that the toolkit has been found to be most valuable by those who have used and continue to use it.  Tanzania users will eventually need Swahili version, especially for user handouts and fliers.

Scale of Current Use:

It is hard to report the scale of current use of the Toolkit.  Its use was established immediately draft copies were sent around the world for comments and suggestions on errors, omissions or additional material.  KENDAT has continually made copies for visitors to her headquarters in Nairobi Kenya. Copies have also been made and carried to colleagues met at various meetings attended nationally, regionally and internationally.

It is likely that the free-to-copy CD-ROM versions availed to KENDAT, DAP collaborators and partners are copied for other colleagues and various field staff of collaborating organisations.

Policy and Institutional Structures, and Key Components for Success:

There is increasing discussion, programmes and activities in the intensified fight against poverty.

In the Strategy for Revitalising Agriculture (SRA – 2004-2014), an off-shoot of the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation (ERS – 2003-2007) of the current administration of the Kenya Government states under:

  • Output 3.3 (pp92): Industry-Driven Agricultural Training Strengthened: Activity Item 3.3.2 is: Develop and introduce modules for demand driven courses for farmers and other stakeholders.
  • Output 3.9 (pp99): Mechanization and Labour Saving Technologies Promoted: Activity Item 3.9.3 is: Promote Use of draught power where appropriate for land preparation and transport.
  • Output 5.2 (pp109): Development Planning Capacity Improved: Activity 5.1.4 is Institutionalise participatory area planning tools and skills at the local level.
  • Output 5.4 (pp111): Gender issues mainstreamed in Agricultural Development Plans: Activity Item 5.4.3 is: Engender new technology development and review old technologies to make them gender appropriate.
  • Output 5.5 (pp111): Accelerate Programmes for Youth Employment in Agriculture: Activity Item 5.5.4 is: Promote and support private sector to develop rural agro-industries and other enterprises for alternative employment to the youth.

A key growing platform of the SRA (see bullet points immediately above) is the expressed need for Kenya Government to engage end-users and farmers more directly in processes of gaining “voice and choice”, hence determining their own challenges, if not development pace.

A key existing platform for enhanced use of the Toolkit is increased access and the extent to which use of computers, internet services etc. are quickly becoming common place.  Rural persons are increasingly able to access Internet Caf�s and Bureaus to use computers that were purely out of reach previously.

Key facts of success:

  • Empowerment of extension agents with comprehensive training tools:  User-friendly and comprehensive best-practice, farmer training materials are mandatory if the advances expected from the SRA activities are to be realised and even generally.
  • Research findings and other information meant for farmers needs to be re-packaged: in forms that are readily accessible to them, in their own vicinity and localities.  ICT means for farmer supporters, if not the farmers themselves provides unique and efficient means of packaging and communication, even for the poor.
  • Farmers need to engage from a more winning position with the private sector: Informed farmers will make more direct demands on agro-industry and input and information suppliers.
  • Enhanced ICT assistance and training:  At the Budget Speech of the Kenya Parliament in June 2006, Kenya Government zero-rated (removed duty and import taxes) the price of computers and associated ICT gadgetry.  This means that more people will now afford computers making them able to access information as held in our CD-ROM Toolkit.

Lessons Learned and Uptake Pathways

Promotion of Outputs:

There have been no specific and determined efforts towards promotion of the Toolkit.  KENDAT and LPP have taken every opportunity to get possible users to know of its existence and how they could use it including making copies available to such individuals and institutions.

Potential Barriers Preventing Adoption of Outputs:

  • Limited awareness and limited access to the Toolkit as no aggressive efforts have been put in place to promote the same among possible users.
  • Limited computer literacy as much as poor access to computers and internet services by possible users in remote locations of the world.
  • Lack of a specialised print version as would be a special production for those without access to computers and/or the internet.
  • Limitation of language as the Toolkit is available only in English.  A Kiswahili version would be most handy for the East and Central Africa region.

How to Overcome Barriers to Adoption of Outputs:

  • Promote the Toolkit and other such packages in a pro-active manner.  Resources and innovative partnerships are a pre-requisite.
  • Rural development structures and plans need to fast-track support services so that farmers and other rural business persons and practitioners can be aided to access information nearer them, while accommodating their literacy and any access issues.  Special print and local language versions would help the situation.
  • Farmers would need extension agents answerable to them and available to propagate information like contained in the Toolkit, according to their expressed needs such as translation, practical demonstration etc. etc. We cannot afford to wait till farmers are learned and computer literate, to explore CD-ROMs.  There are many able, trained and probably jobless youth available to assist farmers in such venture and in an everyday sense.
  • Special summarised audio versions of the Toolkit, which farmers can listen to as they work on their farms, backed by video-clips where applicable can be solutions to making the Toolkit accessible to the majority of the poor.
  • Excerpts of the DAP Toolkit can be summarised in the highly informative Draught Animal Newsnewsletter which has circulated in the region from Edinburgh University for the last 7 years or more.  

Lessons Learned:

  • Poor people need persistence and patient effort and to be approached in ways that build on what they have (material, culture, knowledge, time and experience).
  • Poor people are often illiterate and need sifted information, best provided by a combination of audio-visual and practical demonstration exercises.

Impacts On Poverty

Poverty Impact Studies: 

No poverty impact assessment studies have been conducted.  Effect of a toolkit on poverty would be difficult to quantify.  A toolkit is a means to an end and it would be difficult to associate reduced poverty directly to its use in a singular sense.  Any such undertaking would also necessarily be a long-term affair.

Environmental Impact

Direct and Indirect Environmental Benefits:

The Draught Animal Power (DAP) Toolbox is a trainer and users tool to help perfect the area of a viable, dependable and efficient, renewable energy source for farming communities in vulnerable, yet intensely used soils.  DAP passes the test and qualifies for categorisation as a “Green Energy” and a “Smokeless Technology”.  Draught animals themselves depend on renewable energy.

Draught animals produce manure that can add to soil fertility and productivity. The Toolkit touches on use of DAP and recently introduced equipment for Conservation Agriculture which refers to farming with minimal soils disturbance, permanent soils cover and appropriate crop mixes in rotations that increase biomass and in situ soil life (fauna) enhancement and biodiversity.

 Animal power is promoted which enhances the much needed mixed farming systems that raise the likeliness of carbon sequestration, hence the direct reduction of green house gases.  DAP is attractive for agricultural and rural development as it meets the criteria for sustainable development, hence genuine contribution to advancement of livelihoods.  CA which is animal powered for the majority smallholder farmers improves organic matter, improves soil structure and improves water infiltration and holding capacity.  CA reduces labour input and promotes leguminous cover crops for smallholder farming, giving farmers improved yields and nutrition.  Better-fed farmers using less labour have more time to concentrate on environment protection training and practice.

Adverse Environmental Impacts:

There are no known obvious or adverse environmental impacts related to the DAP Toolkit which is a CD-ROM based computer, interactive learning kit.

Coping with the Effects of Climate Change, or Risk from Natural Disasters:

As mentioned above. the DAP Toolkit is geared to help farmers turn to DAP from drudgerous manual operations.  DAP is also a solution to the temptations by leaders and farmers themselves to “modernize” which often means venturing into carbon dioxide emitting motorised operations, built around unsustainable tractorization schemes which help destroy the environment.   The more carbon dioxide is emitted the more planet earth and its inhabitants experience floods and droughts, brought about by global warming trends.  Animal power and the CA concepts, equipment, practices and applications described in the Toolkit reduces chances of natural disaster by increasing soil carbon in the many ways mentioned above, thus creating resilience.  CA is a careful mind engaging journey back to natural forest environment where nature is in a Carbon Cycle and other resilience generating balance. 

Annex 1

List of Key Abbreviations

ATIRI Agricultural Technology and Information Response Initiative
BIAMF Busia Integrated Agricultural Marketing Forum
CDA Community Development Assistants
CDF Constituency Development Fund
CFA Community Forest Association
CGIAR Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research
CIGS Common Interest Groups
CP Community Parliament
CPHP Crop Post Harvest Programme
DAP Draught Animal Power
DGAK Dairy Goats Association of Kenya
EAGA East African Growers Association
FD Forest Department
FFS Farmer Field School
GBM Green Belt Movement
GOK Government of Kenya
HCDA Horticultural Crops Development Authority
ICIPE International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology
IFRTD International Forum for Rural Transport and Development
ILRI International Livestock Research Institute
ITDG Intermediate Technology Development Group
IUDD Infrastructure and Urban Development Department
ILO/ASIST International Labour Organization/Advisory Support Information Services and Training
ISAAA International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications
KACE Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange
KARI Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
KDUC Kalama Donkey Users Clubs
KEFRI Kenya Forestry Research Institute
KENDAT Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies
KHDP Kenya Horticultural Development Programme
KHE Kenya Horticultural Exporters
LAMP Lari Agricultural Marketing Programme
LATF Local Authority Transfer Fund
MDG Millennium Development Goal
MTMO Mwea Transport and Marketing Organization
NALEP National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Programme
NGO Non-governmental Organization
PA Practical Action
PEN Poverty Eradication Network
PIM Partnership Innovation Model
RNRRS Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
CIAT International Centre for Tropical Agriculture
IITA International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
AU African Union
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development
CA Conservation Agriculture
SARD Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

Relevant Research Projects, with links to the
Research for Development (R4D) web site
and Technical Reports:

R4D Project Title Technical Report
ZC0204 Development of a draught animal toolbox
ZC0243 Development of a toolbox on smallstock (
  • Smallstock in Development, a toolbox (
ZC0261 Development of a Dairy Toolbox.
See Smallholder Dairy Toolbox web site at
R6153 Adoption of planted forages for smallholder dairying in Kenya
R5732 Kenya/Malawi: Development and on-farm evaluation of agroforestry livestock feeding systems. Main Report. Summary.
R6619 Husbandry strategies for improving the sustainable utilisation of forages to increase profitable milk production from cows and goats on smallholder farms in Tanzania.
Box-Baling Forage Improves Profitability of Smallholder Milk Producers
Box baling:
Cut costs of feeding stover
R6610 Introduction of fodder legumes into rice-based cropping systems and their use as supplements in straw-based rations for dairy cattle in Bangladesh
R7637 Integrating indigenous and biological knowledge to implement improved dry season feeding strategies on farms in the hills of Nepal.
R6970 Improved management and use of draught animals in the Andean hill farming systems of Bolivia. Main Report. Summary.
R7376 A practical decision support tool to improve the feed management of ruminant work animals: helping extension services to deliver science to farmers
R6621 Strategies for improved soil and water conservation practices in hillside production systems in the Andean valleys of Bolivia.
  • Las Leguminosas como coberturas y abonos verdes. Proyecto Laderas
R7425 Development, validation and promotion of appropriate extension messages and dissemination pathways
Project Summary and Introduction
The Wambui Series of Cartoon Booklets:

Clean Hands, Clean Milk
Tethered Goats, Less Work
Good Calf, Good Cow
Better Manure, Better Crops
Healthy Cow, More Milk
Healthy Sheep Pay the Medical Bills
Donkey Work Made Easy
Healthy Pig, Healthy Profit
Sungura in the Shamba
Bees for Wealth and Health
Clean Hands, Clean Milk
Donkey Work Made Easy