Transforming Last-Mile Animal Health Services to Build Resilience in Ethiopia: RIPA-North Learning Brief

  • Date Posted: October 9, 2023
  • Authors: Ali Blumenstock
  • Organizations/Projects: Resilience in Pastoral Areas – North (RIPA-North)
  • Document Types: Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: U.S. Agency for International Development


Ethiopia RIPA

New learning brief from the Resilience in Pastoral Areas – North (RIPA-North) Activity in Ethiopia: Transforming last-mile animal health services to build resilience in Ethiopia

This learning brief describes how the Mercy Corps-led RIPA-North program learned from past failures and used a market systems development (MSD) approach to successfully catalyze sustainable animal health services reaching last-mile lowland communities. The brief highlights how private sector models can be applied even in thin markets and fragile contexts to build the resilience of vulnerable communities.

Key achievements include:

  • Average increase in sales per partner PVP of 1,493% compared with before the RIPA partnership.
  • Highly successful new approach to creating market-driven last-mile agents, with 81% of agents still operational after nearly two years.
  • Strong evidence of replication and ‘crowding-in.’
  • More than 21,000 households have access to quality animal health services, compared with 6,000 households before the intervention.
  • Population-based surveys show that 39% of households in RIPA areas purchased veterinary services during the recent severe drought, compared with 3% in control group areas.

Selected lessons learned and recommendations:

  • Market systems development approaches can be an effective way of rapidly and sustainably increasing access to animal health services, even in thin and fragile market contexts.
  • Last-mile networks should be developed by private businesses themselves, as the selection and capacity-building process builds trust, and businesses are more effective than NGOs at cultivating a business mindset in agents. 
  • Access to animal health services is a high-priority resilience capacity in the lowlands of Ethiopia, and livestock producers are quick to recognize the value and use newly available services.
  • The last-mile network has particularly benefited women, as it helped overcome their mobility restrictions and enables them to get support with administration of drugs.
  • Access to finance remains a major constraint for PVPs, in particular as PVPs aim to expand their last-mile network and provide credit to agents. This should be a focus area for RIPA-North in the coming months.