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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Evaluating farm-level livestock interventions in low-income countries: a scoping review of what works, how, and why

Lindahl, Johanna F.; Mutua, Florence; Grace, Delia


Livestock interventions can improve nutrition, health, and economic well-being of communities. The objectives of this review were to identify and characterize livestock interventions in developing countries and to assess their effectiveness in achieving development outcomes. A scoping review, guided by a search strategy, was conducted. Papers needed to be written in English, published in peer-reviewed journals, and describe interventions in animal health and production. Out of 2739 publications systematically screened at the title, abstract, and full publication levels, 70 met our inclusion criteria and were considered in the study. Eight relatively high-quality papers were identified and added, resulting in 78 reviewed publications. Only 15 studies used randomized controlled trial designs making it possible to confidently link interventions with the resulting outcomes. Eight studies had human nutrition or health as outcomes, 11 focused on disease control, and four were on livestock production. Eight interventions were considered successful, but only four were scalable. We found good evidence that livestock-transfer programs, leveraging livestock products for nutrition, and helping farmers manage priority diseases, can improve human well-being. Our report highlights challenges in garnering evidence for livestock interventions in developing countries and provides suggestions on how to improve the quantity and quality of future evaluations.


Animal health; animal-source food; food security; livestock production; nutrition security; smallholder farming

Published in

Animal Health Research Reviews
2020, volume: 21, number: 2, article number: S1466252320000146

Authors' information

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Mutua, Florence
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Mutua, Florence
University of Nairobi
Grace, Delia
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Clinical Science

Publication Identifiers


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