Marianne Carson

Title: Behavioural adaptations of poultry production stakeholders to disease outbreaks and different control policies

About Marianne: I will be working on understanding Bangladeshi poultry stakeholder behaviour during avian influenza outbreaks and under different control policies. It will be exciting to work on a project which explores the relationship between human behaviour, infectious disease spread and policy. It is a great opportunity to be involved in research which could not only help improve national policies but also lead to the development of novel methodologies which could be applied to other diseases and settings. As a ZELS student I am really looking forward to being part of a wider network of researchers and projects and to contribute to this international community.

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Outline: In the face of outbreaks of avian influenza A (H5N1) in poultry, farmers and traders worry about economic loss. They may change their behaviour to avoid such loss and in the process may facilitate the spread of infection. Such behavioural changes can modify the way disease spreads, and even prolong and enhance epidemic spread.

This research will study the behaviours of people working in the Bangladeshi poultry farming and trading system, focusing on behaviours influencing the risk of disease spread amongst poultry, and exposing humans to zoonotic transfer. We will aim to understand the rationale for, and adaptations of these behaviours to changes in perceived disease risk and different types of policy setting. Data will be collected from both farmers and traders so as to understand their rationales for observed behaviours. Open-ended conversations and semi-structured interviews with farmers and traders will cumulatively reveal the nature of locally rational behaviours and beliefs as well as enable them to be located in local market, political and cultural contexts.

Drawing on this information, standard ethnographic and survey techniques will be used to develop understanding of actor decision-making processes. These decision-making processes will then be explored in an entirely novel manner. A series of experimental interview instruments will be developed. They will be used to explore epidemiologically relevant issues with traders and farmers using their language and perceptions to work through a range of locally produced epidemiological scenarios in an experimental manner. This work will be based on an extension of now well established methods in experimental economics 1-2.

Supervisors: Dirk Pfeiffer (Main supervisor, Royal Veterinary College), Chris Desmond (Human Sciences Research Council / University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), Guillaume Fournié (Royal Veterinary College), Ahasanul Hoque (Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University, Bangladesh)