Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) under current conditions poses a major risk to human and animal health. Efforts to contain the disease are therefore in national and global interest. As the most widely practiced control methods for poultry involve culling birds that are infected or in regions immediately around infected animals, the most common practice to ensure the cooperation of owners of birds is to compensate them for the culling of their animals to achieve this public goal. Early identification of HPAI and the immediate culling of diseased or suspected animals are critical elements of reducing the risk of the disease spreading. The international community and national governments have responded to this challenge by establishing funding mechanisms to enable compensation to assist in this strategy.
Payment of compensation to farmers whose animals are being culled enhances producer cooperation through better motivation to comply with the disease reporting and culling requirements of disease control packages. It reduces the time lag between an outbreak and containment actions, and hence diminishes the overall cost of control. To the extent that it reduces the virus load, it also reduces the risk of the virus mutating to becoming transmissible from human to human. Enhancing early reporting and complete culling of diseased or suspected birds is thus the first objective of compensation schemes. A second objective can be to reimburse losses of private citizens who have complied with a disease control process for the public good. This is compatible with the first objective.
While the imperative of disease containment drives compensation schemes, the reality of the severe impact of culling on very poor people cannot be ignored. However, a compensation scheme cannot cover all livelihoods losses caused by livestock disease control and it cannot replace social safety nets. This requires other measures, outside the scope of this paper.
The report seeks to provide guidelines on good practice for payment of compensation as part of HPAI stamping-out strategies. It is meant for national and international managers and project staff involved in containing HPAI. It responds to a request of the Senior Officials Meeting on Avian and Human Influenza held in Vienna, June 6–7, 2006, and the result of the work of a multidisciplinary team from the World Bank, FAO, and IFPRI. The report is based on review of the well-established literature of compensation practices in the developed world, staff interviews, experience, and newly emerging gray literature (project documents, mission reports, and so forth) on compensation in the developing world, and specific field visits to Egypt, Indonesia, and Vietnam.