South Sudan

South Sudan Cattle Program


The two-year South Sudan Cattle Program (SSCP), funded by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), sought to mitigate local conflicts through the development of a cattle identification and livestock ownership/registration system to reduce both cattle theft and trade of stolen cattle. With over 12 million cattle in South Sudan, livestock are an important source of rural livelihoods, and play important roles in defining social status. A large cattle herd increases an individual’s importance in the community. Cattle theft is a common occurrence, and stolen animals are a source of meat, milk and dowry.

Program Approach:

CNFA conducted on-the-ground research to identify the best practices to reduce cattle theft and inter-clan conflicts with a specific focus on the development of an improved identification method, coupled with a cattle ownership registration program.

A 2012 assessment identified non-radio frequency identification tags as the cheapest, easiest and most reliable method of identification. The ear tags are uniquely numbered and were entered into a cloud-based registry designed specifically for SSCP. Tagging was done by restraining the animal and then placing two numbered tags in the ear flap. One is a small round button that is very difficult to tear out of an ear, and the other is a larger flap tag which can be identified at a distance. These tags are permanent without cutting either the tag connector or the cow’s ear.

Through a consultative process and an intensive assessment and design phase – CNFA designed a traceability system that was tailored to the ground realities of South Sudan, and provided the greatest opportunities for sustainable expansion and implementation at a national level.

Our team launched a pilot identification and registration system that enabled individual cattle to be traced for life. Coupled with the identification system, SSCP activities supported the development of a computerized cattle ownership registration center.

Another important factor was the ongoing coordination between the Government of South Sudan (GOSS), especially the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARF), and Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) volunteers. Under the two year pilot project, CNFA worked closely with the MARF to identify and catalog the ownership of over 25,000 livestock. To achieve this objective, CNFA trained and worked with large teams of CAHWs who carried out the work of tagging and capturing the data for animals and owners. Prior to tagging, CNFA conducted an extensive community engagement process that included outreach and awareness campaigns followed by grassroots community mobilization. Data for each animal was entered into a relational database that was managed by CNFA. The long-term strategy was to build the capacity of and transition management of the database to MARF.

The overall goal of the project was to tag 150,000 cattle with non-radio frequency ear tags and then enter the cattle information and the owner information into the cloud-based database. Unfortunately, SSCP was suspended and then formally closed by the Department of State because of escalating safety issues as a result of the violence which started in December of 2013. The program was suspended in April 2014 and closed in September of the same year.

As of last tagging count, 23,232 cattle were tagged and entered into the SSCP database. Over 460 community mobilization meetings were held, helping to inform over 7,220 people about LITS. Many initially-skeptical community members in the targeted regions saw stolen animals returned to their rightful owners, helping spread the concept of adopting cattle tagging practices. Thus far, over 700 community members have tagged their cattle. The ultimate goal of the project was to reduce cattle theft by 25% and preliminary results indicate over a 60% reduction in cattle theft.

Program Impacts:

  • 95% Reduction in cattle theft of identified cattle;
  • 23,232 Cattle identified and registered.