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First Steering Committee of the Project “Strengthening the Capacity of African Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of African Animal Genetic Resources”

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© 2014 AU-IBAR. Group Photo.© 2014 AU-IBAR. Group Photo.July 2013-July 2014 marked the first year of operation of the Genetics Project "Strengthening the Capacity of African Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of African Animal Genetic Resources". This initiative is a collaborative project aimed at strengthening the capacity of countries and Regional Economic Communities to sustainably use and conserve African animal genetic resources through institutionalizing national and regional policy, legal and technical instruments.

Members of the Genetics Project Steering Committee met on July 17, 2014 at the AU-IBAR premises, in Nairobi, Kenya with the following objectives: (i) To review and endorse the committee's Terms of References; ii) To review and endorse the technical and financial report; iii) To review and endorse the distribution of roles and responsibilities to implementing partners; iv) To endorse the project M&E Framework; v) To endorse the project Communication Strategy; vi) To provide guidance for the formulation of the project Exit Strategy; and vii) To discuss and provide guidance on issues arising from the first year of implementing the project.

The meeting was chaired by the Commissioner of AUC-DREA, Her Excellency Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime. Other attendees included representatives from the technical and implementing partners (FAO, CIRDES, WALIC and ILRI), the European Commission, Member States, RECs, Farmers Organizations and Sub-Regional Research Organizations (ASARECA, CORAF, CCARDESA and INRAA).

The project team reported on the numerous achievements that included: extensive consultations with implementing partners (FAO, ILRI, CIRDES and WALIC) to define the roles and responsibilities of each of these key actors within the project; organization of inception workshops at continental and regional levels; organization of a facilitation workshop to support African countries in the timely submission of their country reports to FAO; and mapping of member states' livestock policies and National Action Plans (NAPs). Other significant milestones highlighted included the pre-assessment missions organized to assess AnGR ex-situ and in-situ conservation facilities and the identification of potential regional genebank centers, the roadmap and structure proposed for the Animal Genetic Resources Information System (AAGRIS), and the establishment of Sub-Regional Focal Points (S-RFP) in Eastern, Northern and Southern Africa. Members of the Steering Committee highly commended AU-IBAR on the milestones achieved during this first year of project implementation.

Additionally, the Steering Committee approved the Terms of Reference of the Steering Committee, endorsed the project's first year technical report, financial report, M&E Framework and Communication Strategy.

The Committee tentatively decided to hold the Second Steering Committee Meeting in November 2014, to monitor the project's progress and discuss ways to facilitate and fast-track its implementation. The Chair commended the achievements of the project team and emphasized the importance of the project noting that the project was the first of its kind for AU-IBAR as well as for the continent as a whole. She described the project as special and rare and encouraged the active participation of all the stakeholders to achieve the project's ultimate goal. In her closing remarks, the Chair gave the project team the go-ahead to implement the project's workplan as presented.