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Bridging the gap between veterinary technical knowledge and practice: 25 veterinary officers from the Greater Horn of Africa complete an 18 weeks training course in Management Skills Development

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© 2014 AU-IBAR. A participant Dr. Aluma Ameri from South Sudan receives a certificate from the Chief Veterinary officer, Kenya, Dr. Juma Ngeiywa.© 2014 AU-IBAR. A participant Dr. Aluma Ameri from South Sudan receives a certificate from the Chief Veterinary officer, Kenya, Dr. Juma Ngeiywa.On 8th May 2014, twenty-five veterinary officers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda successfully completed a training programme in Management Skills Development at Kenya School of Government (KSG) in Nairobi, Kenya. The training programme was organised by African Union Interafrican Bureau for animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the Kenya School of Government (KSG) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development East Africa Mission (USAID/EA).

Dr. Aluma Ameri a participant of the course said 'when we reported we had the veterinary technical skills at our finger tips but now we have, in addition, the required soft skills to enhance food security and livestock trade across the African continent and to take the Greater Horn of Africa (GHoA) to higher levels of economic development'. He further confirmed that the training opportunity had enhanced networking and sharing of knowledge and experiences among the professionals across the Greater Horn of Africa. On behalf of the participants, he thanked AU-IBAR and USAID for sponsoring the training course at KSG and hoped that another opportunity to train more staff from the region in management skills development within the SMP-AH project will arise.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Ag. Director of the KSG, Dr. Nura Mohamed informed the participants that the mandate of the KSG was to transform the public service both locally and internationally. 'Cascade the knowledge and skills you have acquired to others in your respective organisations for institutionalisation of skills, sustainability and enhancement of productivity at the work stations' he advised.

The Director of AU-IBAR, Prof Ahmed El-Sawalhy speaking at the same event reiterated the challenge posed by the transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) in the Greater Horn of Africa and their impact on international and regional trade of livestock and livestock products. He said 'cooperative and collaborative approach in disease prevention and control at regional level as advocated by the Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project will help leverage the scarce resources available at national levels'. He further said 'harmonisation of disease detection and response approaches at the regional level will allow generation of comparable data to support disease control and inform livestock trade decisions'.

© 2014 AU-IBAR. Guests and Veterinary Staff from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda pose for a group photograph during the closing ceremony of the training course in Management Skills Development at Kenya School of Government under the SMP-AH project, January –May, 2014.© 2014 AU-IBAR. Guests and Veterinary Staff from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda pose for a group photograph during the closing ceremony of the training course in Management Skills Development at Kenya School of Government under the SMP-AH project, January –May, 2014.'Harmonised and coordinated animal health approaches will lower the risk of exporting infected animals to the neighbouring countries, in the region, and to other regions such as Middle East thus protecting the health of humans and animals in importing countries' he said. He called upon the course participants to ensure that they apply the knowledge and skills they had acquired. He thanked KSG for excellent teaching and provision of very good facilities and expressed gratitude to USAID/EA for the support.

Dr. Steven Curtis of USAID/EA told the participant to use the knowledge gained to complement their technical skills. "Implement actions and create impact through knowledge acquired," he said.

The KSG Director General (DG) Dr. Ludeki Chweya urged the participants to transform themselves, their institutions and the countries in general. "Development of our countries depends on us as individuals and how we execute our daily work plans," he said. The DG further advised them to appreciate their profession as that is the only way to enhance productivity and improve quality of goods and services provided.

The Chief Veterinary Officer, State Department of Livestock officially closed the training programme on behalf of the Principal Secretary (PS), the State Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya, Dr. Dr. Khadijah Kassachoon. The PS reiterated the need for regional economic integration and emphasised the role of regional collaboration in disease management as being promoted by the SMP-AH project as key towards this. The participants were urged to do their best in their respective duties. "The room for improvement never fills up. So, use all the potential you have to upgrade your respective institutions," she remarked.

She recognized the importance of training staff saying that, the experience helps to enhance productivity of organizations. "Training of human resource is important to realize set goals for any institution," she added.

The training brought together senior to middle-level technical staff from the departments of veterinary services with the aim of equipping them with soft skills in management to support addressing administrative and management challenges associated with delivery of veterinary services to a variety of stakeholders, especially regarding the control of transboundary animal diseases across the region. Topics such as negotiation, influencing and persuasion skills; performance management; management and leadership; finance for non-finance and managing donor funds; project development and management; result based project monitoring and evaluation; and training of trainers for quality service delivery were the key components of the course modules.

The training programme was run over a period 18 weeks. Five weeks of the training was devoted to a workplace assignment aimed at putting in practice what had been learned during the 1st theoretical session. During the coming months , the KSG will remotely mentor the participants to ensure that the skills gained are put to use.

The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health is a four-year project that commenced on 14th March 2012 and is to end on 30th September 2016. SMP-AH project is implemented by AU-IBAR in partnership with Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and nine countries in the Greater Horn of Africa namely, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It is under the coordination of Dr. James Wabacha of AU-IBAR and is supported by United States Agency for International Development, East Africa Mission under the framework of the U.S President's Global Hunger and Food Security initiative, known as Feed the Future.