The Livestock sector in Africa exhibits lack of integrated information management processes. This limits the provision of real-time livestock information and knowledge to facilitate decision making among livestock actors at regional and continental level. These observations led over 240 delegates from 43 African countries to publish a communique on Thursday 8th August 2019, in Cairo, Egypt, that among other common interventions identified the need for efficient Information Systems Management as a catalyst to the sustainable intensification of Regional Livestock Value Chains in Africa. The various stakeholders identified the need for more integrated information sharing across the RLVCs through the development of information modules specifically on: Poultry (meat and eggs) for Central Africa; Dairy for East Africa; Meat and live animals for IGAD; Dairy for North Africa; Meat and live animals for Southern Africa; and Poultry for West Africa.
Proceeding the Cairo meeting, AU-IBAR once again convened 160 stakeholders from 50 African countries at a Systemic Capacity Building Continental Workshop: Information Systems, Knowledge Management, and Technology. The consultative workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya held from 3-7 February, 2020. The workshop built upon agreed intervention areas identified during the Stakeholder’s Stocktaking Workshop, to improve the information need capacity of member countries across RLVCs. The workshop attendees comprised livestock value chain actors such as extension agents, Departments of Livestock, and policy makers who were in a position to affect the resources, market orientation and competitive advantage of smallholders, consequently impacting financial performance of the value chain.
Speaking during the official opening of the workshop, AU-IBAR’s Executive Director, Prof. Ahmed El-Sawalhy highlighted existing gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of current data on livestock. He noted that as a result, most livestock value chain actors lacked adequate quality information to support decision making at regional level. Consequently, a key intervention of the work attendees involved identifying critical data content for the selected priority Regional Livestock Value Chains.
The Systemic Capacity Building Continental Consultative Workshop was framed within the broader continental frameworks such as the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDeSA) that takes a two-pronged approach providing a comprehensive agenda to drive livestock sector economic contribution (including intra and inter-regional trade and promotion of sustainable livelihoods). Additionally, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the 2014 Malabo Declaration, and the AU Agenda provided the justification for the consultative workshop. The Malabo Declaration precisely renewed the commitments to the CAADP made in 2003, broadened the themes of the workshop and provided targets to be achieved by 2025: Some of the targets that were relevant to the Systemic Capacity Building Continental Consultative Workshop include: The exploitation of regional complementarities and cooperation to boost growth; The use of partnerships and alliances including farmers, agribusiness and civil society; Supply of appropriate knowledge, information, and skills to users; and to promote and strengthen platforms for multi-actor interactions.
The African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) is implementing a 5-year project on “Sustainable Development of Livestock for Livelihoods in Africa - Live2Africa”, The project pioneers a coherent continental programme approach to build systemic capacity in seven livestock components, that include: Investment in Value Chains, Animal Health; Animal Production, Productivity and Ecosystem Management; Resilience Building; Technology adoption in the Value Chains to inputs, services and markets; and strengthening institutional capacities.
AU-IBAR in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) conducted a consultative stakeholder meeting at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort in Victoria, Seychelles from 9th to 11th of March 2020 to refine the implementation modalities of catalytic actions for the prioritised Red meat and live animals Regional Livestock Value Chain (RLVC).
The meeting was attended by 31 participants from 14 SADC Member States- Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe; tertiary institutions (Stellenbosch University, University of Zambia, University of Zimbabwe); the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), representatives of the red meat and live animals industry – the Lesotho Abattoir and the National Emergent Red Meat Producers' Organisation (NERPO) and staff from AU-IBAR.
The overall objective of the workshop was to build consensus on modalities including, prioritised intervention and action areas, develop work plans and time-frames, budget and targets for implementation of defined catalytic actions under the SADC Priority Regional Livestock Value Chain of the red meat and live animals.
The COVID-19 pandemic whose causative agent is SARS-COV-2, with its origin in animals is causing social and economic disruption of unprecedented proportions. Currently, the disease has been reported in 52 out of 54 African Union Members States (MSs) with over 11, 400 cases and 574 fatalities. From imposing travel bans to prohibiting mass gatherings and lockdowns, governments across Africa, like elsewhere are increasingly adopting sweeping measures in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
Animal resources provide economic values for Africa’s population, often serving as a major contributor to food and economic security. Livestock can serve as insurance against risks and as an economic buffer (of income and/or food supply) in African economies (e.g., during droughts). However, their use as a buffer may be impacted by COVID 19. The economic consequences of the pandemic in Africa may well be as significant as its epidemiological impact. This write up identifies some of the impacts of COVID-19 on animal production and animal health and proposes some priority/strategic actions that the African Union Commission (AUC), Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and AU Member States (MSs) need to take into account in the short and medium terms to mitigate the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic in the animal resources sector.
The likely impacts of COVID-19 on animal production and animal health
Effects on animal feed availability, veterinary and veterinary public health services, other production inputs and market access
- Restricted movement will affect the management of animal enterprises that need daily access to basic inputs such as grazing, feed, water, veterinary and other production supplies. Pastoralists, transhumant livestock keepers and fisher-folk dependent on natural resources are particularly vulnerable to movement restrictions. This will result in negative impacts on production and productivity, increased spoilage, wastage, and post-harvest losses along the animal resources value chains;
- Movement restrictions due to COVID-19 will affect access to and the availability of animal health and welfare, and production services, regulatory/enforcement and surveillance services with concomitant negative impacts on the control of diseases and vermin;
- Policy responses of social distancing, movement restrictions and in some cases total lock down will affect the youth who are key in fishing activities (marine or farmed) and could drastically reduce fishing activities. This would have concomitant effects on fish production and hence regular fish supplies or availability in the markets;
- The covid-19 pandemic comes amidst the impact of other environmental threats such as recurrent climate disasters, diseases epidemics and Desert locust invasions which will further compound vulnerabilities and lead to food insecurity and erosion of animal sector livelihoods;
Effects on animal based livelihoods and employment
- Disruptions of economic activities in the animal resources value chains from production, marketing and consumptions will lead to layoffs affecting livelihoods for many who depend on animal value chains for a living;
- In the fisheries sector the policy responses to COVID-19 will lead to reduced fishing activity as boat owners (the employers) would inevitably lay off the workers (the fishermen, mainly youth, who go out fishing);
- Fish farm owners would also unavoidably be obliged to lay off workers on the fish farms resulting in massive unemployment and loss of much needed revenue;
Africa's Blue Economy can be a major contributor to the continental transformation, sustainable economic progress, and social development. During this year’s 33rd African Union Summit in Ababa Ababa, Ethiopia, the Africa Blue Economy Strategy was launched at a High -level Side Event at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on 8th February, 2020.
Launched under the theme "Developing a sustainable blue economy; increasing momentum for Africa’s Blue Growth", the Africa Blue Economy Strategy’s vision is an inclusive and sustainable blue economy that significantly contributes to Africa’s transformation and growth.
The objective of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy is to guide the development of an inclusive and sustainable blue economy that becomes a significant contributor to continental transformation and growth, through advancing knowledge on marine and aquatic biotechnology, environmental sustainability, the growth of an Africa-wide shipping industry, the development of sea, river and lake transport, the management of fishing activities on these aquatic spaces, and the exploitation and beneficiation of deep sea minerals and other resources.
The Africa Blue Economy Strategy is consolidated the following five detailed thematic technical reports that are annexed to the Strategy:
- Fisheries, aquaculture, conservation and sustainable aquatic ecosystems
- Shipping/transportation, trade, ports, maritime security, safety and enforcement
- Coastal and maritime tourism, climate change, resilience, environment, infrastructure
- Sustainable energy and mineral resources and innovative industries
- Policies, institutional and governance, employment, job creation and poverty eradication, innovative financing
Animal health experts met in Nairobi, Kenya from the 6th to 10th January, 2020 to formulate a common position on draft OIE standards and make recommendations to boost the sector. The meeting was officially opened by Prof Ahmed Elsawalhy, Director Africa Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).
In his speech, Prof Elsawalhy noted that since 2009, AU-IBAR has been convening meetings of Animal Health Experts to review, analyze and provide science-based comments on draft OIE standards. He further noted that: “This initiative was conceptualized and started by the EU- sponsored PAN-SPSO Project which has now been taken over by the Standards and Trade Secretariat for Animal Health and Food Safety with funding from AU Member States,” said Prof Elsawalhy.
The meeting was attended by 27 delegates from ten countries; namely Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Eswatini, Liberia, Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe. The delegates comprised key focal point persons from ministries associated to Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry practitioners and researchers; Virologists, Fish Diseases and management, Quality Management Officers from National Standards, Agriculture & Forestry University instructors, Directors of Veterinary Services, and Ministries of Livestock and Animal Production were the main attendees.
During the workshop opening, Prof Elsawalhy used the opportunity to welcome experts from Liberia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe who were attending the meeting for the first time. He congratulate the three countries for being the first batch of countries to be supported over a three-year period. In his speech, he noted that the success and lessons to be gained from this initiative would catalyze a continental-wide drive towards greater standards culture, consumer awareness on quality and development of animal resources value chains,” he said.
Speaking during a presentation on the meeting objectives and outcomes of the meeting, John Oppong-Otoo, Food Safety Officer at AU-IBAR highlighted the importance and objective of the meeting. He noted that: “Our objective is to improve the quality of Africa’s participation in the work of international standard setting organizations. We are motivated by the need to ensure that Africa’s interest in the Global Animal Commodities trade must be safeguarded and not compromised during development of international standards. Our vision is that Africa will become a world leader in developing and using risk-based standards.”
- Towards more skills on Resourcing, Negotiating and Utilising Innovative Investment Finance and Insurance for AWARFA-N
- AU-IBAR hosts Retreat on the operationalization of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy
- Animal Welfare Strategy for Africa promoted during the Southern Africa Regional Animal Welfare Summit Held in Cape Town
- AU-IBAR Rolls Out 3rd Version of Animal Resources Information System to African Union Member States