Tsetse fly traps in Kenya

Tsetse fly traps in Kenya

In Kenya, nine out of ten people in rural areas depend on livestock for their livelihoods. That's because much of the country is arid or semi-arid, and in three years out of four, crops fail due to drought.

Enter the Tsetse fly. It bites cows and humans to suck blood. When it does, it may pass on rabies - or a deadly parasite that causes trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness.

Two decades ago, farmers in Kathekani, Southern Kenya lost 80 per cent of all their cows to trypanosomiasis. Infected animals suffer from poor growth, weight loss, low milk yield. They become infertile and die. People are threatened too. An estimated 500,000 are affected by the disease each year, and most of them will die.*

* Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations

A tsetse fly trap like this can save lives and livelihoods ... and it's so simple

How it works

The trap is a kind of scarecrow that looks enough like a cow to trick the Tsetse fly

Lured by the smell of cow's urine contained in the bottle, they fly towards the blue cloth on either side of the trap

Then the black cloth in the middle invites the flies to settle. They then fall into the trap and die

Help stop the Tsetse fly threatening 55 million people and their precious animals

Step 1  

Work with a group of farmers who are prepared to build many traps across their farming community. One farmer working alone isn’t enough – tests proved that a single trap near one farmer’s livestock is ineffective. Flies merely came in from neighbouring plots.

£15 helps locate an affected community where people are ready to work together

Step 2  

Locate the best places for traps. In Kathekani, a test of ten traps along the river proved one of the most effective ways to trap Tsetse flies. Today, 210 traps have been built in this area – but more families need help to stop the flies that are infesting their farms.

£30 helps investigate the best place to build a Tsetse fly ‘barrier’

Step 3  

Build traps using simple materials. Blue cloth spread between three poles looks like a cow to the hungry Tsetse fly. They are attracted by smells from bottles of cow’s urine and easily available acetone. Attracted by blue cloth but unable to get a bite from it, they settle on a black cloth, believing this to be the cow’s belly, and fall into the trap.

£20 helps provide dyed cloth, acetone, netting, bags and sturdy poles

Step 4  

Maintain each trap. With training, local people are able to maintain the traps themselves. They ensure they’re working and refill the bottles with acetone and cow’s urine, disposing of dead and trapped flies, and moving any traps that might work better in another location.

£60 helps train a trap-keeper, and provide future supplies

Step 5  

Monitor animal health. Paul Matua was devastated when all of his cattle died from trypanosomiasis. So he joined an ITDGPractical Action programme that trains local farmers to become paravets. He now provides basic health care for hundreds of animals, and oversees the community’s fly traps.

£250 helps train ‘paravets’ in a wider programme of animal care, vital in an area where so many rely on livestock for their livelihood

If you would like to make a donation to Practical Action, you can donate online by credit or debit card via secure server.

or, you can call direct on Freephone 0800 389 16 24

or write to Practical Action, FREEPOST CV1753, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire CV23 9BR

Further information

Download Practical Action technical brief on Tsetse Fly Management (PDF, 500k)
This is a 10-page document detailing the construction of the tsetse fly trap, methods in trypanosomosis and tsetse fly control, and the importance of community-based strategies.

read about this project in The IndependentRead about this project in The Independent

How a simple fly trap can save cattle and bring new life for farmers
Meera Selva reports from Kenya on the fight against the tsetse fly. (The Independent, 9 December 2005)


Checking the fly trap

If you relied on livestock to survive, because there was no other way to provide for your family, imagine your one poor cow in this state…

"The fur on the backbone, it stands straight. The animal, it eats the soil… The tail loses hair and tears come from the eyes."

These are the actual words of Ndith Ndemange who lives in Kathekani, in southern Kenya. Her neighbour, Paul Matua lost all of his cows to trypanosomiasis, the disease carried by the bloodsucking Tsetse fly.

Across Africa, the Tsetse fly threatens a staggering 55 million people and their precious livestock.

Paul Matua is just one farmer whose livelihood was wiped out when his cows died. Much of Kenya is dry, and the crops there fail in three out of every four years. Many families raise animals like chickens, goats and cows – for their milk and eggs. It is their only way to meet basic needs.

If the Tsetse fly is allowed to spread unchecked, it could devastate hundreds more Kenyan farmers. Twenty years ago, the Tsetse fly wiped out 80 per cent of the livestock in this area. We cannot allow this to happen again – especially as we have a solution.

The Tsetse fly traps can reduce the numbers of deadly Tsetse flies in Kenyan communities by an amazing 99 per cent.

Farmers who work together to build a "barrier" of fly traps in key locations – and maintain the traps over the long term – have healthier animals. We’ve already seen it work in Kathekani, where Paul and Ndith live, where the first 10 traps killed 20,000 flies every day.

One Tsetse fly trap costs only £20 to build. But its impact is amazing.

This plague of flies will strike families in Kenya again, but this time, you can help them stop it. Your gift could build a Tsetse fly trap, and will bring other life-saving Practical Action technologies to thousands of families in need around the world.

We desperately need to provide the supplies and training to others.

Please help us reach other communities in Kenya

Kathekani is an example of the kind of community which needs our help. Farmers came here 25 years ago, travelling 180km from Machakos to Kathekani expecting to find land where they could settle. They found drought and the Tsetse fly.

Today, because the Tsetse fly traps are so successful, we want to take this simple technology to other communities who are desperately poor because the Tsetse fly is killing so many of their animals and children.

You could help bring the Tsetse fly trap to farming families in Kenya, and offer simple solutions to people around the world who are struggling to survive.

If you would like to make a donation to Practical Action, you can donate online by credit or debit card via secure server.

or, you can call direct on Freephone 0800 389 16 24

or write to Practical Action, FREEPOST CV1753, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire CV23 9BR

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