Delia Grace, Hippolyte Affognon, Peter-Henning Clausen:
The Hidden Cost of Communal Action and How to Make It More Affordable


1Freie Universitšt Berlin, Institute of Parasitology and International Animal Health, Germany
2University of Hannover, Economics and Business Administration, Germany

Institutional aspects have often been neglected in technically-driven projects. A study in south-west Burkina Faso investigated institutional factors affecting the uptake of animal disease-control innovations. Tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis is the most serious disease of cattle in sub-Saharan Africa, threatening the livelihoods of millions of farmers in the poorest continent of the world. Technologies for tsetse control, (using baits or treated cattle or cloth), have proven effective, cheap and simple to implement at village level; however adoption has been disappointing. We reviewed 9 participatory tsetse control projects in Burkina Faso, and found that vector control was never spontaneously adopted, and never continued with after the departure of the initiating project. We used participative tools and processes to investigate the institutional factors influencing this failure of uptake. This involved a proof"=of-concept vector control project using a high"=level participatory approach. After the hand over of activities to the communities, a participatory evaluation was carried out with the farmers. It found that although the price of vector control inputs were low, the transaction costs of setting up and maintaining the community"=level organisations needed to deliver long"=term control were high. The process studies and participatory tools used to assess these transaction costs are described. The farmer"=perceived costs of control were compared with conventionally measured costs using market prices; it was seen that omitting transaction costs resulted in a four"=fold underestimation of the full opportunity costs of implementing community vector control. Social capital was estimated by various proxies including involvement in community groups and patterns of social interaction. Social capital was found to lower the transaction costs of control, but not sufficiently to render tsetse control attractive in the communities studied. Other factors which have been shown to reduce the transaction costs of communal action are discussed and conclusions drawn on how to make livestock"=disease control interventions requiring communal action more attractive to poor farmers.

Keywords: Burkina Faso, communal action, participation, social capital, transaction costs, tsetse control


Contact Address: Delia Grace, Freie Universitšt Berlin, Institute of Parasitology and International Animal HealthGermany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004