The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was established in 1994 with its main office in Nairobi, Kenya and a second principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The organization is one of the 16 Future Harvest Centres whose research is geared towards food and environmental with the objective of eradicating poverty and improving food security situation while at the same time protecting the natural resource base (Devendra 2009).ILRI is a non-governmental and non-profit research organization, and concentrates its efforts on poverty and livestock. The organization brings together highly qualified research scientists who work on capacity building to alleviate poverty and also achieve sustainable development for poor livestock keepers and their and their larger communities (ILRI 2000).
ILRI concentrates its work mainly in the developing regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The organization’s offices are located in East and West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, China and Central America. ILRI discharges its mandate through project activities. For in stance, it has programmes in North Africa and the Middle East.( McPeak 2010).
In terms of job opportunities, ILRI has more than 700 staff drawn from about 40 countries. Being an international organization, about 80 staff members of ILRI are recruited through international competitions and reflect more than 30 disciplines. Nearly 600 staff members are recruited nationally and particularly from Kenya and Ethiopia.As a non-profit t organization, the aim of ILRI revolves around creating and increasing social value for society and not profit maximization. This in essence constitutes the main goal of the organization. As Lettieri, Borga and Savoldelli (2004), observed, non-profit t organizations are under obligation to continuously improve their performance.
Since such organizations are characterized by steadily increasing demand for their services, it is necessary for them to follow new managerial paradigms.ILRI’s vision is to have a better world for poor people particularly in developing countries by transforming their agricultural production systems with emphasis on livestock systems. The mission of the this organization is to work at the centre of livestock and poverty, to attract high quality science experts and capacity building to channel the efforts in poverty alleviation and sustainable development for the poor communities whose livelihoods depend on livestock.ILRI does not work in isolation instead it recognizes the importance of partnerships. The organization has established collaborations and alliances with other institutions, national, regional and international, in research on livestock, training and information. ILRI’s activities are spread in all tropical developing countries of Africa and Asia.
ILRI is a member of the Consultative group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global alliance that brings together organizations involved in research activities revolving around sustainable development with the donors of this work. The CGIAR consortium is involved in food and environmental research with the goal of alleviating poverty and improving food security while protecting the natural resource base.The current ILRI’s organizational structure consists of six units, each headed by a level director staff. The various departmental directors all report to the Director General. Of the six units, three are concerned with the organization’s research and related activities: Biosciences, Sustainable Production Systems (SPSP), and Strengthening Partnerships with NARS (SPAN).
SPAN is involved with incorporation of networks, provision of training and information services. There are also the Directors for External Relations, whose responsibility is to coordinate the ILRI’s fundraising and public awareness activities; Institutional Planning (currently vacant); and Administration, which constitutes finance, human resources management. Information Technology Services and Administration in Nairobi (Kenya) and in Addis (Ethiopia). The offices of the Directors of SPSP and SPAN are situated in Addis Ababa, whereby the former acts as Resident Director for that campus, though his role is of ceremonial than practical. The offices for the Director of Biosciences and all other corporate’ level officers are located in Nairobi (Kenya). All directors have a responsibility of managing staff posted at both principal offices and outreach sites as well.
(ILRI 2000)ILRI has defined its research activities into 21 projects. Biosciences are composed of ten; SPSP has nine; and SPAN has only one. These are further sub-divided into several sub-projects. Each project is managed by a Project Co-coordinator who supervises all the research activities and makes a report to the Programmed Director. These programmes are not consolidated in relation to location; instead consist of project components on both campuses (Nairobi and Addis) in addition to having personnel in Latin America, Asia, and West Africa.The principal mechanism for co-ordination is the ILRI Institute Management Committee (IMC), chaired by the Director General is the coordinating agent.
Its members include all the six directors. However, the Chief Financial Officer and Human Resources Manager may take part in the meetings when matters for which they are directly responsible or most knowledgeable are to be discussed. The IMC meetings are mostly arranged quarterly to provide the Director General with information pertaining planning of programmes, co-ordination, and evaluation; other information may involve the allocation of financial and human resources. The director may also be briefed on the Organization’s relations with donor and fundraising activities; Board Relations; and CGIAR and TAC interactions. After approval, the minutes for all the meetings are made available through electronic networks/email to all staff members.
Formerly, Programme Management Committee (PMC) was mandated to bring together the Programme Directors, Director General and the Director of Institute Planning whose discussion was structured towards exploring opportunities for collaboration among programmes. The Administrative Management Committee (AMC) meets at least quarterly to brief the Administration Director on the position of co-ordination of the units. The meeting also identified priority needs for financial, human resources, information technology and other administrative services.The office of Director of Institutional Planning (currently vacant) is charged the responsibility for co-coordinating ILRI priority setting, planning, allocation of resource, and evaluating the organizations feasible programmes. This director also reports to the Director General. The holder of the position is supposed to provide a staff service, as opposed to exercising line authority over important issues of programmes.
The biotechnology research theme will strengthens ILRI’s collaborative advantage in the area of biosciences to involve a wide range of partners with the aim of developing new goods and services that have the potential to offer solutions to the current challenges being faced by majority of the poor. These include discovering of new treatments or vaccines to notorious livestock diseases that would otherwise result into livestock loss and hence deal a blow on the Poor’s economy (Devendra 2008). The results of such research also target to increase livestock productivity. By focusing on this theme, ILRI is conscious of the importance of securing incomes among livestock keepers, as well as other related goals of realizing food and nutritional security.By investing in Research in animal health, ILRI seeks to discover new specific diagnostics tools that will help in identifying important livestock disease threats and develop appropriate vaccines.
In terms of genetics and genomics, the theme entails identification and use of genetic adaptations such as climatic and disease resistance and hence develop appropriate technologies to facilitate dissemination of genetically improved technology to the poor farmers. The research theme also targets to improve the quality of feeds.Through, market opportunity theme, ILRI aims at improving the contribution of livestock to the livelihoods of the poor. This is to be achieved through improvement of market opportunities communities engaged in livestock keeping. The organization is determined in facilitating the poor to take advantage of increased demand of livestock and livestock products, a trend that can be termed as The Livestock Revolution (Nyangaga 2010)ILRI recognizes the importance of Livestock and livestock products marketing as the only pathway for the poor to generate income from livestock enterprise and hence the opportunity out of poverty.
Statistics indicate a growing demand in livestock products especially in developing worlds as a result of the increasing population. This is coupled with the steady growth in urban centres, which is characterized by a shift in consumption patterns (Saqalli 2010).Although these statistics demonstrate significant opportunities, there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome. There has been limited participation of the poor, partly because of unfavourable policies, lack or limited access to improved technologies as well as lack of capacity to comply with international quality and safety standards required by the integration of national and world markets and the ever-changing regulatory environments. In recognition of this trend, ILRI is determined to ensure market access by the poor. The strategy is to develop pro-poor value chains for farmer’s livestock products to provide the pull and provision of inputs and services to provide the ‘push’ this is to enable livestock keepers to intensify their production to take advantage of market opportunities.
ILRI, through this theme appreciates the fact that even though the world population continues to increase, the land on which we depend to feed ourselves remains constant, and in some cases, rain is decreasing. The livelihoods of about one billion of the poorest across the world depend on livestock, directly through sell of livestock products, trade in manure or indirectly through employment in the dairy industry. The major challenge is to meet the increasing demand using the constant resource base without depleting the environment ( Gardiner 2005).This theme conducts research that focuses on enhancing better quality feed for livestock, improved crops that serve as food for humans and feed for livestock as well as improved methods of livestock feeding. This should not be done at the expense of the environment.Research in this theme aims to provide information that will facilitate intensification of livestock and crop production systems and of incentives programmes for producers.
Increased human population and climatic changes pose a challenge to the environments, increase the vulnerability of livestock keepers and magnify the impact on the available ecosystems. Research in this field will emphasize the capacity of such systems to provide a range of environmental products. Among the benefits of research in this theme, include provision of direction on sustainable feed options that boost livestock production. Options for reducing vulnerability and improving livelihoods in pastoral systems through better management of risk and improved adaptive capacity are also developed.This theme is in line with the Donors, stakeholders and ILRI scientists demand, which requires that livestock research for development (R4D), contribute to alleviating poverty and empower women in ways considered economically, socially and environmentally acceptable in terms of sustainability. In order to achieve greater poverty and gender impacts the staff within the theme seek to: understand the role of livestock in livelihoods of the poor, particularly poor women; be able to tell where and how livestock R4D can alleviate poverty and empower women; develop more systematic and innovative measurement, analysis, and communication of research findings and impacts(McCalla 2008).
Researchers within this theme seek to analyse the complex interrelationships between livestock systems, poverty, and the environment. The team that involves experts from various disciplines conducts foresight studies on emerging livestock development challenges, which pose uncertain future impacts and quantify their importance for other ILRI activities and policy makers. The steadily growing demand for livestock and livestock products in developing worlds and the importance of livestock enterprise in household demonstrates great potential for using livestock in poverty reduction. ILRI achieves this by facilitating collaboration and partnerships among experts from various sectors (Kaitibie 2010)The institute is exposed to numerous managerial challenges following its expanded activities and the large staff. It may be difficult for the management to decide which research project to give priority. The in-hose competition among scientists may undermine achievement of the institutes overall goal.
Tremendous developments in informatics such as GIS, and computing technologies present promising opportunities for the development of models and methods that can be employed in addressing the complexities of both livestock and crop production systems. Advancements made in the databases required for analyzing livestock systems, such as livestock census, statistics on production, disease outbreak cases, trade and price data, as well as environmental factors. Both systems models and analytical methods present a capacity to structure research component into component into production systems. This will further be incorporated into primary data generated from household, community and watershed regions (Alavi, 2008). As an international organization, ILRI enjoys global support.
The institute thus attracts funding from international donors. This helps it to advance its research agenda.As a research institute, ILRI’s activities revolve around generation and dissemination of information. The centres generate a lot of scientific knowledge as their principal goal. The institute develops agricultural knowledge targeting especially livestock production systems.
These include information on livestock diseases, livestock development, and marketing of livestock and livestock products. The organization has several research centres and knowledge produced in any one given centre is suppose to be shared by research staff in the rest of the centres to avoid duplication of the same which may otherwise prove to be costly.However, the major challenge lies in the fact that a lot of scientific knowledge generated in the institute is embedded in the minds of the research experts. Most of the staff employees are recruited on contract basis whose renewal is not guaranteed. This has further been complicated by the internal competition among researchers and this has undermined the culture of information sharing.
The Institute’s policy provides that researchers should share any knowledge acquired with others. Just like in many other organizations, lack of a well-developed information and communication technologies has undermined the timely sharing of information for timely action. Nevertheless, the institute is working on developing reliable information systems that will facilitate the sharing and exchange of this knowledge and information. (Anand 2007)The ILRI is in the process of developing information centres that will facilitate in the sharing of information. This will be through circulation of books and periodicals to all ILRI staff.
The Institute will also implement a selective dissemination of information called ILRIalerts, which brings together its data from the monthly updates to institute’s database. To further promote knowledge and information sharing, ILRI has developed and is still building an information portal. All research experts at ILRI have access to the portal and contribute to it. This allows ILRI research scientists to share and exchange knowledge and information more easily with fellow research scientists in collaborating organizations. To discourage individualism, the institute encourages group development of employees, by creating an environment that is conducive for sharing knowledge and information.A number of the factors that promote integration/interaction are listed below:O complementarily of expertise required to achieve common goals;O knowledge of available expertise within the Institute and respect for other disciplines;O acceptance of the mutual benefit of a multidisciplinary approach;O identification with the Institute’s goals rather than project or programme goals;O reduction in internal competition for project-specific resources;O rewards for interaction and integration;O belief in a team-based rather than an individual-based approach; single site operation