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Guest Blog: Developing a Malawian approach to mitigation of African Swine Fever

In this guest blog, Katie Adam, Amy Jennings and Thibaud Porphyre share their experience of using Ketso as part of a project on mitigating the impact of African Swine Fever in Malawi. This project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and is funded by the Scottish Global Challenges Research Fund. Here they discuss a networking and scoping study to identify research priorities, and support the research activities of veterinary students at LUANAR.

Pig production is expanding rapidly in Malawi to support economic growth and food security. African Swine Fever is a serious viral disease that kills most affected pigs. It is a major problem for pig farmers. The disease also impacts on food security, as pork is an increasingly important source of protein in the country.

As part of this project, we ran a two-day workshop in Malawi with representatives from government, academia and industry, to identify the main challenges and opportunities around African Swine Fever control. On the second afternoon, we wanted to summarise the discussions of the previous days.

Ketso energises and engages participants

Katie had used Ketso for the first time a year before, at a workshop for another project on rapid diagnostic tests in animals, and she was really impressed with how much it energised and engaged the participants. She hired a kit to use for this project in Malawi and found the same again.

“To get people so animated after lunch on a hot afternoon was truly impressive!”

“To get people so animated after lunch on a hot afternoon was truly impressive!” Katie commented.

We used the Ketso kits for small group discussions on the last afternoon of the workshop. We had talked a lot about the disease as a problem, but we needed to identify gaps in knowledge around how to control African Swine Fever.

Creating a visual representation shows the knowledge gaps

We had been discussing how African Swine Fever control strategies fitted into the pork value chain in Malawi. We used the kits to enable the participants to create a visual representation of the value chain, and then identify the issues at each stage. We had a really diverse group of participants, and Ketso helped to ensure that everyone got to have their say.

The kits allowed us to capture the outcomes of the discussions by taking photos of the workspaces at the end of the session. We also audio recorded the discussions with participants’ permission, for further analysis. Ultimately, the workshop discussions helped us to identify gaps in current knowledge and shaped the research questions that are now being addressed by students in Malawi’s veterinary faculty. This work will inform future disease control strategies.

Ketso helps achieve goals

We collected feedback at the end of the workshop and asked the participants “How did you find the Ketso kits?”. Sixteen out of seventeen rated them ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

Katie reflected: “I feel that the Ketso kits were very important in helping us to achieve the goals for the workshop. I noticed a real difference in the participants’ engagement with the aims of the exercise when we used the Ketso kits on the second day, when compared to more general discussion.”

Ketso is a proven tool that can help you generate fresh approaches through working together. There is an extensive range of Ketso kits to suit different situations and group sizes.

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