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It is a little presumptuous for a member of the team who constructed the Toolbox to hold it up as a success months after it has been released. It is no substitute for a thorough ex-post evaluation of the use and impact of the Toolbox in years to come. But building the Toolbox, as far as we know one of the most ambitious attempts to date to present structured information to policy-makers through the Web, has taught us many lessons it is useful to share. In a world undergoing an ICT revolution, reaching not only policy-makers, but local-level government staff, NGOs and CBOs through the Web and (importantly) CD-ROM is fast becoming a reality. When such clienteles can be reached, it is important for donors and researchers in the North and South to assist in packaging the vast mass of information that is available. A "soft" decision-support system, based in IT terms on html, is a very promising strategy for this.

However, such a strategy must take in to account that no field of policy is self-contained, and that there are trade-offs between global outreach and regional specificity, and between participation/interactivity and authority. The electronic dissemination of policy information must be supported through training, capacity-building and back-up, and however well-designed can only go so far in influencing policy.

1: Conceptual structure of the Livestock-Environment Toolbox

Figure 2: Example of A Matrix of Environmental Risks

Industrial Animal Production System

Poultry Production (broilers and layers)


Risks (-) and opportunities (+)

Underlying factors


(-) Toxic levels of nutrients in soils

· Poor management of animal wastes

(-) Chemical pollution of soils

· Poor management of chemical inputs

(-) soil pollution with heavy metals (Zinc and Cadmium)

· Poor management of animal wastes

(-) destruction of vegetation by acid rain

· Ammonia emissions from animal wastes

(+) improved soil fertility

· Balanced application to the land of poultry manure will lead to improved soil fertility


(-) pollution of surface and ground water

· Poor management of animal wastes

· Poor management of chemical inputs

(-) depletion of fresh water resources

· Increased use of fresh water


(-) global warming: emissions of Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide

· Increased Greenhouse Gas Emission


(-) loss of genetic diversity

· Loss of local breeds

(-) increased susceptibility to diseases

· Loss of disease resistance

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