ZELS Food safety interventions in periurban dairy farming systems in West Africa

RVC Supervisor(s): Javier Guitian (jguitian), Steven Van Winden (svwinden)

Supervisors:   Prof. Javier Guitian, Prof. Steven van Winden, Prof. Philippe Kone (EISMV, Dakar)

Department: Production and Population Health

Periurban dairy farming is an expanding livestock system in West Africa where it contributes to food security and dietary diversity by supplying milk and dairy products to rapidly growing urban populations. However, periurban dairy farms are also a source of milk-borne zoonotic pathogens. In a context of scarce resources, it is critical that specific pathogens are prioritized and risk mitigation strategies selected on the basis of the likely public health benefits of their adoption. Furthermore, strategies must be acceptable by livestock keepers and consumers. In this project, epidemiological field studies will be conducted to estimate the frequency of and identify farm-level risk factors for selected milk-borne pathogens in some of the main periurban dairy production zones of West Africa. Probabilistic risk assessment will be used to quantify the impact of implementing specific risk mitigation strategies at pre-harvest, harvest and postharvest level on the probability of human exposure. The results from two parallel studies, one evaluating knowledge, attitudes and practices of periurban dairy farmers with regard to brucellosis, the second assessing the economic impact of brucellosis for this group of farmers, will inform this project to ensure that tested interventions are feasible and acceptable. This PhD studentship is linked to a project funded by the ZELS initiative and it will align with others in the ZELS Associated Studentships (ZELS-AS) programme through common interests in developing interdisciplinary approaches to tackle zoonotic diseases. The project will involve key stakeholders currently working on the safety of food of animal origin in West Africa to ensure maximum policy impact. Study results will be incorporated into capacity building activities planned as part of the ZELS project within which this PhD project will take place.


  • Arimi, S M, E Koroti, E Kang’ethe, AO Omore, and JJ McDermott. 2005. Risk of infection with Brucella abortus and Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with marketing of unpasteurized milk in Kenya. Acta Trop. 96:1–8
  • Makita K, Fèvre EM, Waiswa C, Eisler MC, Welburn SC. How human brucellosis incidence in urban Kampala can be reduced most efficiently? A stochastic risk assessment of informally-marketed milk. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 1;5(12):e14188. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014188.
  • Grace D, Omore A, Randolph T, Kang’ethe E, Nasinyama GW, Mohammed HO. Risk Assessment for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Marketed Unpasteurized Milk in Selected East African Countries. Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 71, No. 2, 2008, Pages 257–263

This is a three and a half year fully funded studentship. This studentship and  the "ZELS Economics of brucellosis control in periurban dairy farming systems in West Africa" studentship are open to applicants from Home/EU/LMICs and preference will be given to applicants from West Africa.  One of the advertised studentships will be awarded to a Home/EU candidate and one to a candidate form an LMIC. 

Desirable requirements

  • Postgraduate qualification in veterinary epidemiology or other relevant discipline
  • Basic communication skills in French

How to apply Applications should be made via UKPASS.  For more information on the application process and English Language requirements  see How to Apply

Details about the ZELS programme and further project titles available from ZELS DTP partner institutions can be found on the ZELS website. 

Interviews for the studentship will be held in mid to late September (via skype) and will include an interview with the project supervisors and a separate PhD panel interview.  The anticipated start date for Home/EU students is October 2015 and by November 2015 for LMIC students.

Deadline: 26/08/2015

More information :

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