Livestock Research for Rural Development 25 (6) 2013 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Contributing factors for successful vaccination campaigns against Newcastle disease

B Bagnol, R G Alders**, R Costa, C Lauchande, J Monteiro***, H Msami****, R Mgomezulu*****, A Zandamela and M Young

The International Rural Poultry Centre, KYEEMA Foundation, Mozambique and Australia
Department of Anthropology. The Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa
** Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camden, Australia.
*** Ministry of Agriculture, National Directorate of Livestock, Mozambique
**** Central Veterinary Laboratory, Temeke, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
***** Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development, Lilongwe, Malawi


Newcastle disease (ND) is considered a major constraint to village chicken production and results in significant mortality and economic loss every year. I-2 vaccine, a thermotolerant vaccine administered via eye drop, was introduced to Southern Africa in 1996 and has proven effective in controlling the disease. As ND is controlled, chicken production increases, and food security, food sovereignty and women’s economic status improve. For the control of ND to be effective and sustainable a safe and potent vaccine is necessary but community vaccinators and farmers also need to be happy. This requires: (1) an enabling policy environment, support and coordination by relevant government agencies for the promotion and implementation of vaccination programs; (2) appropriate vaccine, locally produced and quality assured; (3) adequate packaging and administration technique, cold chain, distribution through local veterinary services and three timely vaccination campaigns per year; (4) effective and gender sensitive extension materials; (5) simple evaluation and monitoring systems by vaccinators and leaders, participatory rural assessment (PRA), participatory impact assessment (PIA) and surveys; (6) understanding the role of chickens in the farmers’ livelihood strategy; (7) selection of community vaccinators, community involvement, training at all levels and (8) economic sustainability for farmers, vaccinators and veterinary vaccine laboratory services. This paper analyses the reasons for the success of the ND vaccination campaigns in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Key words: Malawi, Mozambique, Newcastle disease, I-2 Newcastle disease vaccine, sustainable vaccination campaigns, Tanzania, village chickens


Village chickens play a vital role in the livelihood strategies of many poor rural and urban households in all developing countries (Sarkar and Bell 2006; Alders and Pym 2009; Guye 2012). Women and children often manage and own them (Guye 2000). They are sold or bartered to meet essential family needs such as medicine, clothes and school fees. Village chickens are active in pest control, provide manure, and are very important during festivals and ceremonies. Chicken meat and eggs are an important source of animal protein. Although village chicken production is lower than that of intensively raised breeds it requires minimum housing, disease control, management and supplementary feeding (Sarkar and Bell 2006).

It is estimated that 30 to 80% of chickens die every year due to Newcastle disease (ND) in developing countries (Msami 2007). In Tanzania it is considered that the direct annual cost of chicken death due to ND is USD 19 to 78 million (Msami 2007). Studies indicate that control of ND alone could increase household income derived from poultry by around 40% (Woolcock et al 2004) and have a positive nutritional impact (Knueppel et al 2010). 

Vaccination campaigns using I-2 ND vaccine started in Southern Africa with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) / National Veterinary Research Institute (INIVE) ND control project in Mozambique, which ran from 1996 to 2001. This project demonstrated the effectiveness of I-2 ND vaccine under field conditions and supported vaccination campaigns undertaken by government agencies (under an IFAD sponsored family sector poultry program) and non-government organizations (NGOs). The initiative was consolidated in Mozambique and expanded to Malawi and Tanzania through the Southern Africa Newcastle Disease Control Project (SANDCP) which ran from 2002 to 2005, financed by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). There were significant achievements in terms of delivery mechanisms and distribution of the vaccine, quality control of vaccine, community consultation and participatory monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (Harun et al 2009).  

Since 2009 the ‘Regional Newcastle disease control project’ has been implemented in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia by the KYEEMA Foundation. The aim of this AusAID funded project is to increase poultry flock size, health and knowledge on ND control and improve the economic situation and welfare of village inhabitants. Vaccination campaigns implemented by the project commenced in five pilot villages of Thyolo District in Malawi in March 2010, five villages in Singida District, Tanzania in January 2010 and three villages inside the Limpopo National Park (LNP) in Massingir District, Mozambique in 2009.

This paper presents the results of an analysis of data collected by community vaccinators during 2011 vaccination campaigns in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania and data from 2011 surveys and discusses the reasons for the success of the ND control model reported by Alders et al (2010). 


The data presented were collected through a range of methods. Community vaccinators have a Vaccinator Book where data are recorded during each campaign and compiled by supervisors and discussed with communities and stakeholders. The project also implements participatory rural appraisals (PRA) to identify the characteristics of poultry production and the problems in each socio-economic and cultural area, how poultry production is integrated in the farming system, ownership of the birds and ethno-veterinary and biosecurity knowledge. PRA is undertaken before the first vaccination campaign and is then carried out once a year. Complementary Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) methodologies (Catley et al 2007) allow the impact of vaccination campaigns on sale, consumption and flock size to be assessed. Common standardized questionnaires translated in local languages were used as a baseline and repeated every year. They were administered on average to 150 households selected randomly through a two stage sampling. In the first sampling 15 clusters of ten households are selected in the pilot villages. In the second stage ten households are selected in the corresponding villages. The objectives were to identify significant changes that occurred in the target population through project intervention in following areas: size of flock; numbers of chickens and eggs sold and exchanged; numbers of chickens and eggs consumed by the family; knowledge and attitude towards vaccination. Data were cleaned and analysed using SPSS version 17. Inconsistency and duplicate data were removed and descriptive statistics were computed.  


Policy environment, support and coordination by relevant government agencies for the promotion and implementation of vaccination programs 

In all three countries there has been significant government support to vaccine production activities leading to improved vaccine production. Due to its impact on poverty alleviation, on women’s economic status and because ND is a disease listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Code (OIE 2012) and must be reported to the OIE, control of ND is a government priority. However, the outbreaks are generally under reported in the region.

The relationship between farmers, the government and the local veterinary services plays a significant role in the level of vaccination adoption. In project areas in Mozambique the three villages with 217 families are located within the core zone of LNP and farmers are resisting relocation attempts by the authorities arguing that the area provides their livelihood. The resettlement is driven by the development of tourism, which is essential for park sustainability and due to increasing human-wildlife conflict events. This situation impacts negatively on the level of adherence to vaccination by farmers. In Tanzania village leaders enforce a by-law making it compulsory for all farmers to vaccinate. When farmers do not vaccinate they are called by the leader, have to pay a fine and are obliged to vaccinate. These policy and enforcement mechanisms allow vaccination coverage of above 80% to be attained.  

Vaccine, locally produced and quality controlled 

In Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania the thermotolerant I-2 ‘wet’ ND vaccine is locally manufactured by the national veterinary laboratories. The vaccine is produced in embryonating eggs from flocks that are screened periodically for key poultry diseases that can be transmitted vertically through eggs. Vaccine production and quality control is done in accordance with established protocols (Young et al 2012). In Malawi I-2 ND vaccine is registered with Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board of Malawi and in Tanzania provisional registration of the I-2 ND vaccine has been granted by Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) (Msami 2007). In Mozambique the vaccine is used under the authorization of the National Directorate of Veterinary Services.  

Packaging and administration technique, cold chain, distribution through local veterinary services and three timely vaccination campaigns per year 

I-2 ND vaccine is packaged in small droppers of 250 to 400 doses that can be kept under cool conditions outside the refrigerator for up to two weeks before opening. Each new batch of eye droppers is tested for appropriate drop size, sterility and virus compatibility before use, and packaging used to dispatch vaccine is tested to confirm that it will maintain the vaccine at an appropriate temperature until it reaches the farmers. These measures aim to avoid any losses in potency of the vaccine during storage, transport and distribution. 

In provinces and districts where vaccination is conducted the cold chain has been improved and is monitored regularly. Provincial veterinary services order the vaccine from the national veterinary laboratory every four months based on requests from districts and distribute it prior to vaccination campaigns.  

Vaccination campaigns are organized to ensure an appropriate distribution system in a particular area for the duration of the campaign. Three vaccination campaigns per year ensure that chickens are adequately protected throughout the whole year and that newly hatched chicks are immunized. The campaigns are implemented in periods when ND outbreaks are less likely to occur. The most appropriate timing for vaccination is identified with male and female farmers using participatory epidemiology methodologies (Mariner 2000; Bagnol 2007; Catley et al 2012). Vaccination occurs in March, July and November in Malawi and Mozambique and in January, May and September in Tanzania.  

Effective and gender sensitive extension materials 

A comprehensive extension package (including a vaccinator’s record book, manuals for vaccinators and supervisors, radio programs, a song, calendars, ND flip-charts and posters) has been developed (Alders and Bagnol 2007, Ahlers et al 2009) and adapted, translated and produced in each country. The vaccinator’s record book where the information on each vaccination is recorded is a fundamental instrument in the monitoring of the campaigns. A flip-chart on ND control supports the activities of the vaccinators. Posters and calendars also help in raising awareness in villages. Gender sensitive approaches are included in all activities and in all training and extension material to ensure that all stakeholders are gender sensitive and that will women participate in and will benefit from all ND control activities (Bagnol 2009).  

Role of chickens in the farmers’ livelihood strategy 

A key element in the decision to develop a village chicken vaccination program is the role of chickens in the farmers’ livelihood strategy. In Singida District in Tanzania village chicken raising is a business and an important livelihood strategy. In 2011 99.3% of the households had an average of 16.5 birds. The Association of Chicken Dealers of Mungumaji Market in Singida conducts a dynamic trade in poultry, transporting chickens by lorry to Dar es Salaam (Msami 2007). This makes Singida the number one region in the country in terms of village poultry trading. This unique situation contributes to the very high adoption of ND prevention. In the Mozambican project area farmers living in LNP have herds of cattle and goats and extended areas for grazing and farming and 86.9% of households owned an average of 18.9 chickens. In Thyolo, Malawi tea plantations offer work for the local population but the incomes are low and households have very limited land for subsistence agriculture and to raise animals. 77.7% of households own an average of 9.7 chickens. 

Table 1: Percentage of households owning livestock and mean number of animals per household in the pilot villages (data from questionnaires)


Thyolo, Malawi

(January 2011)

Massingir, Mozambique (February 2011)

Singida, Tanzania

(November 2011)





Number per Household

% Households



Number per Household

% Households



Number per Household





























Selection of vaccinators, community involvement and training at all levels 

In the project areas I-2 ND vaccine is administered by community vaccinators. Community meetings are held to inform villagers about the vaccination process, the cost of vaccination, the work of the vaccinators and the benefits vaccinators will receive. Criteria for the selection of the vaccinators are defined and vaccinators identified, most often by the community in village meetings. The number of vaccinators selected depends on the number and spatial distribution of households in the village. Usually two are selected per village, a woman and a man. Vaccinators receive three days of initial training and regular refresher training.  

Farmers’ willingness to adopt the new technology and to vaccinate regularly will facilitate the vaccinators’ work, making it more rewarding and economically viable. On the day of vaccination farmers are required to pay the vaccinator and keep their chickens enclosed to increase the efficiency of vaccination.  

Involvement of village leaders in calling meetings and supporting awareness activities is a key element of the success of campaigns. The leaders are involved in all training and monitoring activities so that they are fully informed about the characteristics of ND, the vaccination process and the impact of ND on the chicken flocks.  

Extension workers, provincial and district or ward veterinary staff are trained to supervise the vaccination. Often the most qualified and experienced staff facilitate the refresher courses held before each vaccination campaign. To support training, manuals for trainers and field workers have been developed and made available in the appropriate language in each country (Alders and Pym 2009; Alders et al 2003).  

Economic sustainability for farmers, vaccinators and veterinary laboratory services 

Community vaccinators purchase droppers of vaccine from livestock services and farmers pay the vaccinators for the vaccination of each chicken, thus contributing to the sustainability of the activity (Alders et al 2007). The cost of vaccine is reviewed regularly in all countries and includes all costs of production, testing and some distribution costs. The costs associated with training field staff, extension material tools, mobilizing farmers and monitoring and evaluation are not included in the price of vaccination. In Tanzania and Mozambique the national veterinary services then determine the selling price of the vaccine, including a recommended fee for the administration of the vaccine by community vaccinators. In Malawi each village currently defines its price and retains some of the money collected by the vaccinators to finance other livestock activities.  

The number of chickens vaccinated is influenced by the size of the village, the number of vaccinators in the village, the distance between households, the percentage of households adopting vaccination and the average number of chickens per household. Data available for the last vaccination campaign of 2011 in the three countries is shown below and reflects patterns that can also be observed in previous campaigns (Table 2).  

At the beginning of the project most farmers in all three countries had very little knowledge

of ND and had seldom vaccinated their chickens. After six vaccination campaigns in project areas of Malawi and Tanzania and seven in Mozambique, there was an increase in the rate of adoption of vaccination. In Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania 44%, 35%, and 87% of households respectively adopted vaccination in the last campaign of 2011. The average number of chickens vaccinated and households vaccinating also varied. In the Tanzanian project area each vaccinator vaccinated an average of 1,339 chickens in one week corresponding to around 100 households. In Mozambique, each vaccinator only vaccinated an average of 379 chickens in 25 households and in Thyolo, Malawi, an average of 366 chickens in 58 households. 

Table 2: Comparison of achievements for one campaign in three project areas (data from vaccinators’ books)






November 2011 (1)

Massingir, Mozambique November 2011 (2)

Singida, Tanzania

September 2011 (1)

Total number of households in villages where vaccination is carried out




Number of households vaccinating per campaign




Households vaccinating per village, %




Total number of chickens vaccinated




Average number of chickens vaccinated per household




Price of vaccination per bird

5 to 10 MWK

0.5 MZN

50 TZS

Price of vaccination per bird in USD (3)

0.01 to 0.02 USD

0.01 USD

0.03 USD

Average number of chickens vaccinated per vaccinator




Average amount earned per vaccinator per campaign

990.8 MKW

165.5 MZN

44,500 TZS

Average amount earned per vaccinator per campaign in USD (3)




(1) Six vaccination campaigns were carried out

(2) Seven vaccination campaigns were carried out

(3) Exchange rate at 13/02/2013


One fundamental element in the success of vaccination campaigns is the opportunity for the vaccinators to earn a fee that compensates them for their efforts and motivates them to continue the activity. The average income of a vaccinator depends on the number of chickens vaccinated and the price of the vaccination per bird, among other factors. Vaccinators must be satisfied. The vaccinator’s income differs from individual to individual, from campaign to campaign and from country to country as socio-economic characteristics play an important role. Understanding the pattern of vaccination adoption in the different regions is a challenge as it is influenced by a variety of factors. For example, until recently the government-approved fee that a community vaccinator in Mozambique could charge had not increased in over ten years. Due to decentralization, the national Veterinary Services had to liaise with individual districts in order to obtain their support for increasing the fee. This process was completed in 2012 leading to a 100% increase in the vaccination fee per bird. 

Another important factor influencing the adoption of the vaccination is the role of chickens in the farmers’ livelihood strategy. Village chicken raising in Singida District in Tanzania is an important livelihood strategy in this very poor region. It is a business, encouraged by political leadership and supported by a well-organized trade chain. These factors make Singida the number one region in the country in terms of village poultry trading. This unique situation helps to explain the very high adoption of ND prevention. In project areas in Mozambique farmers living in the LNP own cattle and goats, and chicken raising activity is still very marginal.  

There is no single indicator to measure the success of ND control or to understand the pattern of vaccination coverage in the different regions. In fact, as has been outlined in this paper a multiplicity of factors contribute to a positive outcome. We have reviewed the factors that we consider the most important. 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support given to family poultry research and development by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Wildlife Health Network, and GRM International. Gratitude is extended to the veterinarians, poultry specialists, extensionists, traders and farmers in many parts of the world who have given freely of their time and expertise over the years. 


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Received 26 February 2013; Accepted 1 May 2013; Published 2 June 2013

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