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Enhancement of Early Warning Systems for Food Safety in Eastern Africa

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Final Communique

© 2014 AU-IBAR. Participants during FAO/AU-IBAR Technical Workshop Nairobi, 27 - 31 October, 2014.© 2014 AU-IBAR. Participants during FAO/AU-IBAR Technical Workshop Nairobi, 27 - 31 October, 2014.FAO/AU-IBAR Technical Workshop. Nairobi, 27 - 31 October, 2014. The workshop on "Enhancement of Early Warning Systems for Food Safety in Eastern Africa", jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) took place at the JACARANDA hotel in Nairobi from 27 to 31 October, 2014.

Experts in food, agriculture, public and veterinary health from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania Uganda, Makarere University, Nairobi University as well as representatives from IGAD, AU-IBAR, AU- PACA , OIE, ILRI, WB, WHO, and FAO participated in the meeting. The workshop was organized with the technical support and participation of experts from Cranfield University (UK) and the Institute of Coastal Health in Canada.

The meeting was officially opened by Dr. Murithi Mbabu, representing the State Department of Livestock of Kenya followed by remarks from Dr. Raphael Coly, from AU-IBAR and Mr. Robert Alport, on behalfthe FAO Representative in Kenya.

Following the decision of the African Union Commission to establish the African Union Food Safety Management Coordination Mechanism and Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), FAO and AU-IBAR are cooperating with other international organizations to support country and regional capacities aimed at effective implementation of the AU decisions.

The training was specifically developed as part of ongoing FAO/AU-IBAR efforts to support national food control systems capacity development.

In particular, the meeting's objectives were to:

  • Provide knowledge and technical expertise to national and regional stakeholders on food safety Early Warning Systems including Rapid Alert Networks.
  • Assess food safety Early Warning capacity needs at the regional and national levels in East Africa and develop strategic plans for action at all levels.
  • Promote cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration through wider adoption of One Health approach, and through building on existing surveillance systems at all levels.

The 5-days meeting enabled the participants to address various topics on the agenda:

  • Update on AUC's food safety initiatives and perspectives
  • Food safety issues, control and prevention in East Africa: findings from a recent FAO/AU-IBAR study
  • Testing a new FAO draft handbook providing:
    • Overview of early warning system concept, key terminology (glossary) and key considerations
    • Understanding of agri-food production and food control systems
    • Food safety surveillance
    • Food Safety Foresight
    • Data sharing and integration/Mapping tool for surveillance systems
    • Guidance for strategy development for Early Warning system.

A panel discussion took place addressing the topic of rapid alert networks at all levels.
All groups were tasked to develop orientations for Early Warning Systems at national (4 countries) and at regional level (one group).

Following the meeting, the participants concluded and recommended the following:

  1. The participants recommended that AU-IBAR, FAO, WHO and UNIDO and other international partners take necessary actions to support countries' efforts in close coordination and under the leadership of the AUC.
  2. Support the development of early warning capabilities as fully integrated element of national food control systems.
  3. The participants requested that AU-IBAR, FAO, WHO and UNIDO start piloting Early Warning Systems including Rapid Alert Networks at country level.
  4. Participants commended AU-IBAR and FAO for organizing the Nairobi Workshop. The participants supported FAO and AU-IBAR project to organize similar workshop in the various regions starting with Western Africa in June 2015.
  5. The participants recommended that a more integrated, multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and interdepartmental collaboration through a wider adoption of One Health approach in building or strengthening Early Warning Systems in order to address food safety issues.
  6. The participants commended FAO EMPRES Food Safety for developing the handbook and training package to help countries develop national and regional early warning capabilities.
  7. The participants recommended African Union, FAO, WHO and other partners to sensitize the decision makers at all levels in the importance of food safety matters and to bring them at a high priority in their development policy agenda.

Acknowledgement

The participants are grateful to the Government of Kenya, FAO and AU-IBAR for the support extended to them during the preparation and the conduct of the workshop.