What Happens When Cows Come To Nairobi

More Africans are moving to large cities, and some are bringing their livestock with them, along with an increased risk of disease. Rather than banning the animals entirely, Kenyan officials came up with a different solution.

What's the Latest Development?


As more Africans move to urban cities, some, such as those residing in the Nairobi district of Dagoretti, are bringing their cows and chickens along with them. The animals are kept in the backyards, and their manure is also used to fertilize vegetable gardens, which Nairobi public health workers say helped contribute to a spike in a particular type of infectious disease. Rather than recommend a ban on keeping animals in the city, the workers created a publicity campaign to encourage more careful attention to how well they're kept. As researcher Delia Grace puts it, "[W]e know that [conventional warnings are] not very effective. [This is] a new approach that's trying to change peoples' behavior based on social norms."

What's the Big Idea?

Livestock serve as a reliable source of meat and milk in urban areas where there are few grocery stores or freezers: "[For children] the nutritional benefits of ready access to milk outweighs some of the cow-related drawbacks." A cow can also be used as collateral for a bank loan. Upon further research, Grace and her colleagues decided that asking rural people to give up such an integral part of their culture wasn't an option. The publicity campaign they developed involves brochures and cartoons that gently pressure residents into adopting safer and more hygienic standards. 

meunierd / Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Atlantic

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Remembering when bankers tried to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictator

When FDR took office, the U.S. was in the grips of the Great Depression. People had grown desperate, and FDR's election seemed disastrous. Some wealthy bankers believed that it was time to take the country by force.

Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less