The control of tsetse-trypanosomiasis in West Africa, as in other regions of the continent, has historically been in the domain of government investment for the good of the human populations in tsetse-infested areas. Although tsetse eradication is being contemplated on a large scale on the African continent, integrated control is seen as a better approach to dealing with the tsetse-trypanosomiasis problem in view of the limitations of existing control methods when applied independently. The objective of this study is to provide overviews of the nature of the tsetse-trypanosomiasis problem and the various options for its control, and to synthesize this information to provide a guiding principle that will facilitate the definition of the role of trypanotolerant livestock in an integrated approach to combating tsetse-trypanosomiasis. The study aims ultimately to provide a framework that can contribute to determining where and under what circumstances trypanotolerant livestock might be used economically and sustainably to combat the tsetse-trypanosomiasis problem.
Exploiting the genetic resistance to trypanosomiasis of indigenous ruminant livestock is one approach to the control of the disease. Its limitations are the relatively small numbers of trypanotolerant livestock breeds and the perception among some producers that, because of their small size, they are less productive. Productivity and economic data are now available that show that these animals are competitive, even in areas of low tsetse pressure. Their current use in production systems in tsetse-affected areas in West Africa reduces the tsetse-trypanosomiasis problem and achieves outputs that provide livelihoods to those who keep them.
The deployment of any integrated control of tsetse-trypanosomiasis must be based on quality information, not only on the abundance of tsetse flies and infection rates, but also on how the livestock owners view the extent of the problem. Factors that have an important bearing on the role of trypanotolerant livestock include changes in production systems, societal or market valuation of trypanotolerant stock, scientific breakthroughs in disease control and improvements in the level of tolerance. Because these factors, or elements of them, are themselves variable (that is, changing over time), an analytical framework (a 3 x 3 matrix) is proposed that considers the temporal element (past, present and future) with respect to knowledge, perceptions, technology, etc., on one axis, and ecological zone/production systems (namely the semi-arid, the subhumid and the humid zones) on the other axis. Interpretations drawn from elements captured in the framework and the expected responses and reactions of producers and private and public sector bodies interested in tsetse-trypanosomiasis control are provided. The procedure is a reliable means of analysing the potential roles trypanotolerant livestock may play in integrated control.